A clutch of Cavers burials in the Lauder kirk session records

Some time ago I blogged about Cavers references in the apprenticeship records that recently went online at Ancestry.co.uk. These include Robert Cavers, shoemaker at Lauder, Berwickshire, who was one of a Cavers family living there for several generations. I commented in that post that I didn’t know where they came from before then. I do now.

Graham and Emma Maxwell are indexing baptisms, marriages and burials in non Church of Scotland parish registers. More specifically that means non-conformist (i.e. not Church of Scotland) parish registers, and Church of Scotland kirk session records – the other records kept by the local church authorities for each parish in Scotland. And searching their database I found lots of Cavers burial references in Lauder. I bought a few, and Emma revealed that they were all on the same page of the parish’s kirk session records, all burials for the one family. Result! Here’s what it says:

Records of Funerals in Lauder Beloning to the Faimely of Robert Cavers since the year 1785.

John Cavers His Sone Departed this life 1785 Aged 3 years.

William Sone to Robert Cavers Departed this life June 11th 1794 Aged 23 years.

William Father to Robert Cavers Departed this life September 1798 Aged 79 years.

Ebenezer Sone to Robert Cavers Departed this life December 25th 1801 Aged 24 years.

Christean Daughter To Robert Cavers Departed this life March the 6th 1806 Aged 24 years.

Marrion Tweedhope 2d Spouse to Robert Cavers Departed this life May 29th 1819 aged 71 years.

John Waddel Sone to Christean Cavers Departed this life Febuary 13th 1825 Aged 24 years.

Robert Sone to James Cavers & Agnes Waddel Departed this life June 28th 1806 Aged 2 years 3 m.

Robert Cavers Departed this life June 20th 1827 Aged 80 years.

Margreat Cavers daughter to James Cavers & Agnes Waddel Departed this life July 13th 1831 Aged 2 years 10 months 2 Weeks.

James Waddel Sone to Christean Cavers Departed this life July 18th 1832 Aged 29 Years.

John Cavers Sone to James Cavers and Agnes Waddle Born 13 octr. 1830 Departed this life 4th May 1849 Aged 18 years 6 Months 3 Weeks.

The most interesting ones for tracing the family back in time are the burials for the first Robert Cavers, buried in 1827 aged 80 years, and his father William Cavers, buried in 1798 aged 79 years. I hadn’t known the first Robert’s father was William. Both of these burials can be confidently linked up to earlier baptisms, in Galashiels, Selkirkshire. Robert Cavers was christened on 9th August 1746 at Galashiels, son of William Cavers and Christian Currer. And his father William Cavers was christened at Galashiels on 21st January 1719, son of Robert Cavers and Margaret Easton. So that takes the family back in time confidently. At the moment it isn’t possible to trace further back than this, though there are other references to both families. For example I know that William and Christian Cavers had a son John christened in 1749 at Melrose parish in Roxburghshire, which lies somewhat on the way from Galashiels towards Lauder, so perhaps the family were already started on their gradual move from Selkirkshire to Berwickshire.

I plan to research the family further, and write up my findings in a future blog post. As far as I can recall I haven’t been contacted by a descendant of this family before, but I may be in future. In any event I want to research it as much as any other Cavers family in the past.

A previously unknown illegitimate Cavers birth

As genealogists research their family trees back in time it’s common to stumble across illegitimate ancestors, who were born out of wedlock, at a time when there was a great stigma attached to births outside marriage. Sometimes the child took the mother’s surname, sometimes the father’s. Sometimes the child’s father is recorded on a marriage or death certificate. In Scotland the kirk session minutes of the Church of Scotland also provide another source, because the kirk session often, especially before 1855, dragged in the mother for interrogation. But not all illegitimate births show up in these records.

A couple in southwest Scotland are currently indexing, with the help of another person, paternity cases in the Scottish Borders sheriff courts. These are cases where usually the mother sues the father for maintenance and financial support for her child. The database is growing all the time, but it already has a Cavers reference. The father was Thomas Cavers (ca1810-1879) from Newcastleton, Roxburghshire, son of John Cavers and Jane Douglas. He emigrated to Lanark County in Ontario, Canada, married twice (firstly to Margaret Lockhart, secondly to Margaret Campbell), and had at least 14 children in Canada. But now we know he had at least one more child, born before he emigrated, in Scotland.

I’m going to paste in the report from the Sheriff Court records. Unfortunately they don’t record the name of the child, just that it was a girl who was still alive when the court case was brought. She may have died in childhood, or adulthood. I will try to find out more. I suspect that the child may have used her mother’s surname, Murray, if she survived, because I don’t recall a likely Cavers candidate I’ve seen before. But I will investigate.

Jedburgh Sheriff Court Register of Decrees

(National Records of Scotland reference SC62/7/4 p48)

Decreet

Murray q Cavers

2d Apl. 1832

At Jedburgh the 10 & 31 March 1832 Sitting in Judgment John Elliot Esq Sheriff Substitute of the County of Roxburgh in an action raised before the Sheriff Court of Said County at the instance of Elizabeth Murray residenter in New Castleton Pursuer against Thomas Cavers son of John Cavers Joiner New Castleton Defender; the Sheriff found and declared and herby finds and declares the said Thomas Cavers to be the father of the said Elizabeth Murrays female illegitimate child born by her on the 9th of May 1831 and decerned and Ordained and hereby decerns and Ordains the Said Thomas Cavers Defender to make payment to the said Elizabeth Murray Pursuer of the sum of £1.0.0 Stg. of inlying Expences for said Child: Item of the sum of £1. 10/. per quarter for the first nine months from the birth of the child in name of Nursing fee: Item of the Sum of £1 per quarter thereafter in name of aliment until the Child shall have Attained the Age of 10 Years complete, the said Nursing fee and aliment to be paid quarterly and per advance: Item of the lawful int[erest] of Said Quarterly instalments from the period at wh[ich] they respectively fall due and till payment; Item of the sum of £7. 14. 10. of Expences of Pro[ces]s: Item of the farther sum of 6/ as the dues of Extracting this Decr[eet] and of recording the same And after the terms of payment are first come and by gone. Ordains &c.