Theft of fruit in Hawick in 1889

Hawick News, 1889 September 21

Alexander Forbes, Backdamgate, and John Moore, Baker Street, schoolboys, for stealing plums, pears and apples from the shop of George Cavers, High Street, were fined. Forbes 2s or 4 hours and Moor 3s 6d or 6 hours.

George Cavers (1847-1912) married Janet Bruce at Wilton in 1886. He was the son of John Cavers and Janet Graham, and has living descendants. As a young man George was the Cornet for Hawick.

More details about Francis Cavers who died after being assaulted in 1874

Previously I blogged about the death of Francis Cavers, after being assaulted. I’ve just found another newspaper report which gives more details, particularly of his life and character:

Southern Reporter, 1874 May 28


Mr Francis Cavers, a native of Tweedside, and for many years gardener at Ashiestiel, and latterly jobbing gardener at Galashiels, and who also acted as sexton at Ladhope, has died from the effects of injuries received in the neighbourhood of Hawick. He was set upon one evening by a party (now in custody) on the way from Hawick to Wilton Dean, and so brutally maltreated that he died on Saturday last. He was interred yesterday. He was a quiet, industrious man, very peaceable and obliging in disposition; and much regret is felt for his widow and family.

Francis has descendants living today. I descend from his younger sister Margaret, Mrs Hall, who lived not far from Francis when he died. Both were great-grandchildren of James Cavers and Isabella Coltherd.

A Cavers policeman with beer all over his face

Thanks to the British Newspaper Archive digitising many decades of Southern Reporter issues I’ve been able to find more Cavers references. There will be more to find in local Borders newspapers: Hawick had its own newspapers at this time, so this may explain why the Hawick coverage in the Southern Reporter isn’t as good as some other areas of the Borders. And the Hawick papers haven’t been digitised yet, so I can’t readily search them at the moment. However searching the Southern Reporter has revealed new references to Cavers people, and I will share them on the blog over the coming months.

First up here is a Cavers policeman in Galashiels who ended up with beer over his face:

Southern Reporter, 1894 February 1


David Cleghorn pleaded not guilty to a charge of assaulting Constable Cavers by throwing a pitcher of beer on his face in High Buckholmside on the evening of Wednesday last week. Constables Cavers and Quarry stated in evidence that they saw accused go into Hare’s public-house eight or nine minutes past ten o’clock carrying a pitcher, and when he came out they wanted to learn what was in the pitcher, when Cleghorn threw the contents in Cavers’ face. Accused said it was milk, and asked how the constable could prove it was beer. Constable Cavers said some of it went into his mouth. (Laughter.) Charge found proven, and sentence of 10s, or five days, imposed.

Constable Cavers was David Cavers born in 1849 at Ashkirk, son of William Cavers and Mary Hunter. See the relevant blog post for details of his family line. David married Margaret Chisholm at St Boswells in 1875, and by the time of the 1891 census was living in Galashiels, at 73 Lintburn Street with his wife and many children.

A Cavers involved in a rumpus at an 1897 football match

There’s a new website, Welsh Newspapers Online, which provides free access to digitised copies of lots of historic Welsh newspapers. Although Cavers people don’t generally appear in Wales the Welsh newspapers sometimes re-reported something from elsewhere that did mention a Cavers. And searching the site just now I found this gem, reported in various Welsh newspapers, clearly originally from a Scottish paper, most probably one in Dumfriesshire:

Evening Express, 15 April 1897


Three football players in the Moffat Club, named James Cavers, James Easton, and John Borroman, were at Dumfries on Wednesday fined £2 each, with the alternative of fourteen days’ imprisonment, for having threatened and seized hold of William Hay, the referee in a cup-tie at Moffat. One of the defendants attempted to pull Hay’s nose. For having mobbed and thrown eggs at the referee at the close of the match James Bell, George Harkness, Thomas Grant, John McKie, and William Davidson were fined £1 each or seven days’ imprisonment.

James Cavers can be confidently identified as the 1871-born son of George Cavers and Ann Richardson. He appears in the 1891 and 1901 census returns at Moffat, living with his parents. His occupation was saddler. For more on his ancestral line see here.

A Cavers boy stealing soap in South Shields, County Durham, England

I’ve newly subscribed to the British Newspaper Archive and have been trying some more Cavers searches. Here’s one thing I just found:

Shields Daily Gazette – Wednesday 30 November 1881
William Armstrong, John Lloyd, and John Cavers, each 12 years of age, were charged with having stolen a box containing twelve squares of soap, from the shop of Messrs Roberts and Co, grocers, King Street. Armstrong and Lloyd were each fined 2s 6d without costs, and Cavers was ordered to be sent to the Wellesley Training Ship until he is 16 years of age.

Also apologies for the delay with the planned in-depth post about early Canadian Cavers families. I’ve been undergoing gruelling chemotherapy treatments over past months, since early May, which on top of my severely disabling MS-like disease means a lot of plans have had to be put on hold.

A trip to the fair, an elephant, and a case of pickpocketing

Gunsmith William Cavers in London shows up in Old Bailey court records, not as a criminal, but as a victim of crime.

He had gone to the Bartholomew Fair, on 3 Sep 1828, an annual fair held in London and very popular with the local people. He had taken his eleven-year-old son Charles with him, and was carrying another son in his arms, possibly little William. The family group had gone into Wombwell’s booth, run by George Wombwell who kept a famous menagerie of exotic animals, and would regularly show them at the annual Bartholomew Fair. The Cavers family were seeing an elephant as the crime happened, as little Charles said in evidence to the court:

I am the prosecutor’s son, and am eleven years old: my little brother was on my father’s shoulder – the prisoner was talking to us, and telling us the nature of the wild beast – we were looking at the elephant and he was walking round us for a good bit; my father turned round and caught his hand pretty nearly close to his pocket – I am sure it was his hand, nobody else was near; the people were quite on the other side of the booth – I did not know the prisoner before.

William Cavers gave an even more detailed account of events:

I was inside Wombwell’s booth; I felt somebody at my pocket, turned round, and saw the prisoner – I found his hand near my pocket; he was drawing his hand from my pocket – my money was safe ten minutes before; I was sure it was the prisoner’s hand that came from my pocket, for nobody else was near me, except my two children, one of whom was in my arms, or I could have taken him in a moment; I put the child down in a minutes and a half, and was going to secure him, but he had disappeared: I went to the door, to inquire for an officer – the people at the door said they kept no officer; I said I had been robbed by a person who I knew – I am certain the prisoner is the person whose hand I found coming from my pocket – I remained there a quarter of an hour, and then found him in the same booth.

Cross-examined by MR. CHURCHILL. Q. You turned round and saw somebody near you? A. It was the prisoner; there might be one hundred or one hundred and fifty people in the booth, but nobody except the prisoner was near me, for I did not like to trust my children in the crowd, who were following the keeper, as he gave a description of the beast – I explained them to my children myself; the prisoner’s hand was in my pocket – I felt it there; I did not see it in my pocket – I saw his face: I cannot say whether he went out of the booth, but he disappeared in an instant; I cannot say whether he ran, for the child, being on my shoulder, was a total eclipse to me. When I went to inquire at the door for an officer, the people said “People who come to the fair, must take care of themselves.”

The accused John Clark was apprehended in a nearby street, and subsequently indicted for stealing 1 half-sovereign, 5 shillings, and 4 sixpences, all from William Cavers.

Clark was convicted of theft, and sentenced to be transported for life.