Cavers families in the 1881 Canadian census

I’ve been searching for Cavers people in the 1881 Canada census, using transcripts and images online at FamilySearch and Ancestry. I’ve found 110 people now, and of those 89 can be linked to families traced back to known Scottish origins. But another 21 people had so-far mysterious origins.

27 of the Cavers people found in the census lived in Quebec, all descended from James Cavers (1780?-1866) and his wife Margaret Blackburn. James was from Roxburghshire, the son of Robert Cavers and Margaret Henderson. Their descendants in the 1881 census lived mostly in St Malachie D’Ormstown in Chateaugay:

  • William Cavers (son of James Cavers and Margaret Blackburn), aged 51, with second wife Catherine
  • Euphemia Cavers (nee Smith), aged 50, widow of James Cavers (son of James Cavers and Margaret Blackburn), and various children
  • Walter Cavers, aged 41, farmer (son of James Cavers and Margaret Blackburn), with wife Margaret and children
  • Peter Cavers, aged 36, farmer (son of James Cavers and Euphemia Smith), with wife Elizabeth and children
  • James Cavers, aged 31 (son of above William Cavers and first wife Sarah Watherston), with wife Elizabeth
  • sisters Maria, 30, and Jane, 26 (daughters of above William Cavers and first wife Sarah Watherston)
  • in Montreal City: James, 29, grocer (son of James Cavers and Euphemia Smith), with wife Sarah and son
  • in Montreal City: Jennie, 21, servant (?daughter of James Cavers and Euphemia Smith)

4 of the Cavers people found lived in Manitoba. These were two brothers from Hawick, Roxburghshire, both sons of Robert Cavers and Elizabeth McPherson. The younger brother John, 21, was recorded at Rockwood, Lisgar, with his wife Frances and baby son Robert. At Winnipeg, Selkirk, was John’s brother James, 31, a clerk.

79 of the Cavers people found lived in Ontario. Of these 26 were descended from James Cavers and Isabella Coltherd and their family in Roxburghshire, via various people emigrating to Canada:

  • in Dumfries North, Waterloo South, John Cavers, 55, from Hawick (son of James Cavers and Mary Biggar), and his wife Isabella and children
  • in Dumfries North, Waterloo South, Walter Cavers (b. ca 1842, Hawick, son of James Cavers and Jean Bole) and his wife Rebecca and children
  • in Sydenham, Grey North, James Cavers, 49, from Scotland, and his wife Margaret and children, and siblings Francis, 53, and Catherine, 41 (all children of John Cavers and Agnes McGregor who emigrated to Ontario)
  • in Sydenham, Grey North, blacksmith William Cavers, 24, and his recently-married wife Mary. This couple were children (separately) of my distant g..uncle Thomas Cavers and his wife Eleanor or Ellen Ryder (nee Cavill) and married in March 1881.

17 Cavers people in Ontario descended from John Cavers and Jean Douglas from Castleton, Roxburghshire, via their sons Thomas and John who emigrated to Canada:

  • in Bathurst, Lanark South, Peter Cavers, 31 (son of John Cavers and Mary Campbell), his wife Jessie, sister Jane, and widowed mother Mary, 66, b. Scotland
  • in Beckwith, Lanark South, James Cavers, 29 (son of Thomas Cavers and second wife Margaret Campbell), his wife Margaret, widowed mother Margaret, baby son, and siblings Peter, Alexander and Margaret
  • in Dumfries North, Waterloo South, John Cavers, 35 (son of John Cavers and Mary Campbell), wife Margaret, and three young children

11 Cavers people descended from James Cavers (son of Thomas Cavers and Janet Scott) from Wilton, Roxburghshire, and his wife Margaret ???:

  • in Nichol, Wellington Centre, blacksmith William Cavers, 27 (son of Charles Cavers and his first wife Ann), his wife Mary, and two daughters
  • in St Catherines, Lincoln, music dealer Charles Cavers, 54 (father of above, and son of James and Margaret Cavers), his second wife Eliza, and various children

8 Cavers people living in Gainsborough, Monck, were descended from Walter Cavers (b. ca 1825, Hawick, Roxburghshire) and his wife Christina Anderson (previously Mrs Wilson) from Aberdeenshire. This family has unknown origins and needs to be researched further. One theory is that Walter was another illegitimate son of Elizabeth Cavers (ca 1793-1872), daughter of John Cavers and Christian Hardie who married in 1791 at Hawick. Elizabeth had one known son John Cavers (b. ca 1823, Hawick), also known as John Irvine, who married Janet Graham and had a large family in Scotland. In the 1881 Canada census Walter and his wife Christina are listed with two of their younger children, and in a separate household is their son John, his wife Almeda, and children.

6 Cavers people in St Catherines, Lincoln, were descended from William Cavers (b. ca 1800/1805, Scotland) and his wife Mary ???? (b. ca 1810, Scotland). Again this is a family we can’t trace back to known Scottish families. William Cavers died in 1878, so the family in 1881 census was his son William and wife Maggie and children, as well as 70-year-old widowed Mary Cavers.

5 Cavers people lived in Orford, Bothwell, the family of Luke and Emily Cavers, and probably their son William Cavers and his wife Laura from USA. This is another mystery family. Luke Cavers was b. ca 1812 in Scotland, and can be traced in Canadian census returns from 1851 onwards, but can’t be linked up yet to any family or birth events in Scotland. The 1871 census suggests that Luke and Emily probably had younger sons George and Walter, names which might help suggest possible Scottish roots.

2 Cavers people lived in Williams West, Middlesex North: Thomas Cavers (b. ca 1815, Scotland), Plasterer, and his wife Sarah (b. ca 1817, England). This couple can be traced in various census returns, but again can’t be linked up to Scotland, and have mystery origins. There was another Thomas Cavers of a similar age living in Owen Sound, my distant g..uncle, but the Williams West one was different (both Thomas Cavers men listed separately in the same census returns) and currently a mystery.

There are 2 other Cavers people listed in the 1881 Canada census who I haven’t been able to link up yet conclusively, but probably fitted into known Ontario families:

  • in Dumfries North, Waterloo South, Thomas S. Cavers, Plasterer, aged 37, b. Ontario
  • in Warwick, Lambton, Maggie Cavers, aged 16, b. Ontario, living in house of Alexander McKenzie

Of the 110 Cavers people found in Canada in 1881 98 have traceable origins back to Roxburghshire. By this time the Canadian Cavers population was greater than the Scottish Cavers population, with only 82 Cavers in Scotland in 1881, and only 46 in Roxburghshire.

P.S. There may have been more Cavers people in 1881 Canada who I didn’t find in my census search, either because they were misrecorded, or mistranscribed. If anyone can pinpoint more Cavers people – finding them recorded in the original census images – let me know. Also I’d be grateful for comments about any who should have been there.

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One thought on “Cavers families in the 1881 Canadian census

  1. John Cavers and Jean Douglas were my 4x great grandparents. I am descended from their son, my 3x great grandfather Thomas Cavers and his first wife, Margaret Lockhart (d. 28 Dec. 1848 – she is buried with her Lockhart family in the Auld Kirk Cemetery, Almonte, ON). Their children were Jane (18 Oct. 1841), John (1 Sept. 1843), Henry (1 Dec. 1845) and Thomas (5 May – our records had 1848 but his tombstone says 1847). These four were always referred to as “the first family”. I am curious as to why they weren’t mentioned in the 1881 census.

    John Cavers was my great grandfather. He married Sarah Ann Lang, the granddaughter of Arthur Lang who came over on the same boat as Thomas Cavers in approx. 1820.
    Tui

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