A young Cavers family in search of Australian gold

I keep an eye on new datasets added to Ancestry. A recent one covers passenger lists to Victoria, Australia between 1839 and 1923. There aren’t many Cavers references in there, but most concern a single family, emigrating from Roxburghshire in the 1850s.

Robert Cavers was christened at Hobkirk, Roxburghshire in 1827, the eldest son of Adam Cavers and his wife Janet Clark. In 1847 he married Helen Hymers, and the couple appear in the 1851 census Fastcastle in Cavers parish. Robert was working as a labourer, and by this time the couple had two daughters: Margaret, aged 3, and Jessie, aged 1. A third daughter, Helen, would be born soon after.

On 1st July 1853 the family arrived on the ship “Genghis Khan” at Melbourne. I’d known they travelled to Australia, but did not know the exact arrival date before this new database went online. The passenger lists record that Robert was engaged by Mr Campbell at Richmond, now a suburb of Melbourne. This was the time of the Australian gold rush, and the family would soon become involved in this.

Sadly Robert died a year later, as the book Rulewater and its people records: “killed in blasting a rock at the gold-diggings”. His wife was pregnant at the time, and a daughter Robina was born in Australia after Robert’s death, named after her father. But the family did not stay in Australia, and made the long journey back to Scotland. The next census reference to them, in 1861, shows them at Ashtree in Southdean parish, Roxburghshire, staying with Helen’s parents Edward and Margaret Hymers.

The family can be traced forward in time, and has living descendants today.

An extensive Berwickshire Cavers family

Much of the focus of this one-name study involves gathering Cavers references from historic (especially pre 1900) records, such as BMD certificates, census returns, and parish registers. While doing this it became clear that there was an extensive Cavers family in Berwickshire, that single-handedly accounted for most pre-1900 Cavers references that I found in that county. Researching the family further I found that they traced back to Ashkirk near Hawick, but moved en-masse to Eccles in Berwickshire in the 1850s. This is a summary of their story.

This line probably originates with a family in Roberton parish next door to Ashkirk. This was John Cavers and Jane Scott, who had at least two children:

  • Margaret Cavers, born 1 Apr 1805 at Roberton.
  • John Cavers, christened 12 Apr 1808 at Roberton. Probably John who married Elizabeth Fiddes – see below. Parents John and Jane would fit with the naming patterns of the known children of John Cavers and Elizabeth Fiddes.

John Cavers married Elizabeth Fiddes, with the marriage recorded on 10th May 1833 at Melrose, Roxburghshire. John was variously an agricultural labourer, farm servant and toll collector. He was born circa 1807/8 at Ashkirk (birthplace from various census returns), and died on 15 Aug 1886 at Wark, Northumberland – just across the Border in England, which means his death certificate does not name his parents. In the 1851 census John and Elizabeth and their children were still living in Ashkirk parish, at North Sinton. But by 1861 they had moved to Belville in Eccles parish.

John Cavers and Elizabeth Fiddes had at least 8 children:

  • John Cavers, b. ca 1833/4 in France. Married Elizabeth Aitken. See below.
  • Jesse [or Jessie?] Cavers (a girl), b. cica 1834/5 (from 1841 census). Probably died young and had a younger sister named after her
  • Jane Cavers, b. ca 1838/9 at Ashkirk. Married 26 Dec 1862 at Kames East Mains, Eccles, to James Aitken, son of John Aitken and Agnes Brydon (brother of Jane’s sister-in-law Mrs Elizabeth Cavers).
  • Elizabeth Cavers, b. 1841 (aged 3 months in 1841 Ashkirk census). Or was this the same as the following sister?
  • Elizabeth Cavers, b. ca 1842/3 in Ashkirk (per age in 1881). Housekeeper for father in 1881 Coldstream census.
  • Andrew Cavers, b. ca 1843/4 (from age in 1881). Carpenter in Edinburgh. Married 20 October 1882 at Edinburgh to Margaret Sutherland.
  • Jessie Cavers, b. ca 1845/6 (from age at marriage). Married 29 Dec 1871 at Kames, Eccles, to John Flint, joiner in Glasgow, son of Robert Flint and Isabella Jeffrey.
  • Helen Cavers, b. ca 1846/7 at Ashkirk (from 1851 census return).
  • Walter Cavers, b. ca 1849/50 at Ashkirk (from age in 1881 census). Joiner in Fife/Edinburgh. Married 1877 at Edinburgh to Dona[ldina?] Sutherland.

Moving on to the next generation down, John Cavers married Elizabeth Aitken on 23 Jan 1857 at Belville, Eccles. Elizabeth was 19, daughter of farmer John Aitken and his wife Agnes Brydon; John was a 23-year-old agricultural labourer.

John Cavers and Elizabeth Aitken’s children were:

  • Agnes Liddell Cavers, b. 20 Feb 1857 at Eccles. Married in 1890 at Edinburgh to John Clinkscale. Had at least 1 daughter, Margaret b. ca 1896/7, a Public School Teacher who married her Canadian cousin John Leonard Cavers.
  • John Cavers, b. 19 Jan 1859 at Eccles. Almost certainly the saddler John Cavers who had an illegitimate son with Elizabeth Penny born 2 Feb 1885.
  • William Cavers, b. 7 Jun 1861 at Eccles. Married 1 Sep 1891 at Bedshiel, Greenlaw, Berwickshire, to Margaret Renwick. Almost certainly the groom William Cavers who had an illegitimate son with Mary Laing born 25 Jan 1878.
  • Andrew Cavers, b. 12 Jul 1863 at Eccles. A carpenter who emigrated to Canada and married 10 Dec 1888 at Toronto, Ontario. His wife Martha Green was born circa 1865 and died 25 Jan 1890 at Toronto. The couple had at least 1 son: John Leonard Cavers b. 18 Jul 1889 at Toronto, a chemist who married 25 Sep 1918 at Carriden Manse, Carriden, West Lothian to his cousin Margaret Clinkscale. I don’t know if this couple stayed in Scotland, or returned to Canada.
  • Elizabeth Cavers, b. 22 Sep 1864 at Eccles. Possibly died 21 Nov 1910. May have had a daughter Jessie who shows up in the census with the family.
  • James Cavers, b. 11 Jan 1867 at Eccles. Died 10 Jan 1937 at Crosshall. Married Christina Hastie Wood.
  • Walter Cavers, b. 29 Apr 1869 at Eccles. Died 15 Jan 1937 at Ploughlands. Married Elizabeth Laidlaw Bruce b. 1 Sep 1867 at Mertoun (daughter of James Bruce and Jessie Laidlaw), died 18 Jul 1921 at Pittlesheugh.
  • George Cavers, b. 28 Jul 1871 at Whitsome and Hilton. Died 6 Aug 1940 at Leitholm. Married Mary Elizabeth Robinson.

The family has many modern descendants, and farmed various farms in the Eccles area of Berwickshire. It should be possible to find more references to the 19th century members of this family in various historic records. It may also be possible to find out more about what happened to some members of the family, such as brothers John and William Cavers.

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.

Cavers people in Massachusetts, USA

Ancestry has recently added Massachusetts parish registers to its online indexes and digital images. Part of my own personal Cavers line has a Massachusetts connection, so I was really pleased to see these new online records.

John Cavers son of Thomas Cavers and Helen Scott emigrated from Hawick to Massachusetts with his wife Sarah Duncan. John was a tailor. John and Sarah had children in Massachusetts, then after John died Sarah returned with her children to Hawick. At least one of her children went back out to marry in Massachusetts. And now I know so much more.

Children that I’ve been able to establish for the couple are now:

  • Thomas Francis, b. ca 1848; d. 1861 at Wilton, house painter
  • Janet, b. 2 Jul 1850 at Boston, Massachusetts; m. Thomas Binns (b. England, son of George & Martha), on 21 Jun 1876 at Lowell, Massachusetts, and had children
  • Ellen, b. 30 Apr 1852 at Chelsea, Massachusetts; d. 15 Oct 1855 at Chelsea, Massachusetts, cause of death “Lung Fever”
  • Sarah F. (or Sarah E.), b. 1 Feb 1854 at Chelsea, Massachusetts; d. 13 Oct 1854 at Chelsea, Massachusetts, cause of death “Disease of Bowels”
  • George Duncan, b. 14 Jul 1855 at Chelsea, Massachusetts; d. 1879 at Hawick
  • Allen (male), b. 1 Oct 1856 at Chelsea, Massachusetts; presumed to have died young
  • Helen, b. ca 1857 at USA; d. 1890 at Wellington Street, Hawick. Executor for her testament was her first cousin Thomas Cavers Hall (my gg-grandfather)

The father John died at Boston on 25 Mar 1858, recorded as aged 29 years 8 months (there is no trace of his birth in the Scottish parish registers), cause of death consumption, married, born Scotland, parents Thomas and Allen (Ellen/Helen?). His widow Sarah remarried in 1871 at Edinburgh to Thomas Rattray. He too was from Hawick: an engineman from Wilton. At the time of this marriage Sarah was living at Silver Street, Hawick, and her marriage certificate names her parents as George Duncan and Janet Thorburn. Census records indicate that Sarah was born circa 1827 or 1829 in Hawick.

The Massachusetts databases on Ancestry throw up some other Cavers references, but checking the original parish registers pages they almost all look as though they are other surnames mistranscribed. The only one that *may* be a Cavers is Mrs Ann Young who died in 1904 at Winthrop, Massachusetts, aged 71, widow of John Young, born Canada, daughter of George and Esther ?Cavers? {that name is hard to read}. But even that one may be another surname really. I can’t find her in my Canadian Cavers records so far.

Clues to London Cavers family in West Ham parish registers

Prompted by findmypast adding Westminster parish register transcripts to their records I just had a fresh look for Cavers references. And, to my surprise, as well as ones in Westminster I found some in West Ham in Essex, where Ann Cavers and her husband John Rivett seem to have had children. Having those West Ham registers searchable online prompted me to look into the Rivett family more. But I also think it’s given me clues to her Cavers parents.

Firstly there’s a burial at West Ham, sourced from the National Burial Index, for Ann Rivett. She was buried at All Saints church on 17 Apr 1840, aged 51, which would suggest a birthdate circa 1788. Her likely husband John Rivett was buried at the same church on 14 Mar 1837 aged 45, indicating a birth circa 1791. It looks as though their sons Charles and William were buried there too, because there are burials of those names at the same church: Charles in 1834 aged 12, and William in 1835 aged 21. The findmypast parish register transcripts for West Ham include a number of children for John and Ann Rivett:

  • William Rivett, c. 27 Jun 1813 at All Saints, West Ham, ?buried 1 Mar 1835 aged 21 at All Saints, West Ham
  • James Rivett, c. 8 Jan 1815 at All Saints, West Ham, ?executor to his uncle William Cavers gunsmith in 1841?
  • Jane Rivett, c. 2 May 1819 at All Saints, West Ham
  • Charles Rivett, c. 25 Nov 1821 at All Saints, West Ham, ?buried 2 Aug 1834 aged 12 at All Saints, West Ham
  • Henry Rivett, c. 1 Jun 1825 at All Saints, West Ham
  • John Rivett, c. 1 Jun 1825 at All Saints, West Ham

This Rivett family grouping is pretty consistent with the family I found in the 1841 census, living in Church Street, West Ham: James, a carpenter, aged 25, George, aged 20, Jane aged 20, John aged 15, and Henry aged 15. Note that ages in the 1841 English census are rounded down to the nearest 5 years. Presumably George was another son of the family. And James Rivett christened in 1815 fits with a builder and undertaker of the name in the 1851 West Ham census, which ties in with the information in his likely uncle’s will. There’s a Rivett undertakers business still operating in West Ham, which has apparently been running from the early 1800s, always in the same family. I must contact them sometime, to see if they know about their early family history.

Significantly for my one-name study the West Ham burial registers also include a number of Cavers references. Firstly there’s William Cavers buried on 25 Apr 1841 at All Saints, West Ham. His age is recorded as 55, which fits with a birth circa 1785. Could he be William the gunsmith who married Sarah Nussey? Since William the gunsmith drew up his own will on 24 Mar 1841 but died before the census on 6 Jun 1841 I think it’s very likely to be the same man. His age also fits well to be a sibling of Mrs Ann Rivett.

There’s an even older William Cavers buried at All Saints, West Ham: William Cavers buried 27 Jun 1819 aged 62, giving a birthdate circa 1757. And likewise Jane Cavers was buried there on 3 Jan 1810, and Sarah Cavers on 10 Jul 1799 – ages for both not recorded. Could these be the parents of William Cavers and Mrs Ann Rivett, possibly William Cavers and Jane Howell who married in 1783, and another member of their family? The name Jane was passed down to daughters of both William the gunsmith and Mrs Ann Rivett. And the name Sarah was used in William’s family too.

I really need someone to check for gravestones for the Cavers and Rivett families at All Saints, in the hope that this clarifies relationships. That’s assuming there is a readable inscription there. But it’s very encouraging. Having likely birth dates for the older members of the family raises the possibility of tracing things back in time. And it makes it more likely that William the gunsmith and Mrs Ann Rivett were children of William Cavers and Jane Howell. I could also buy the death certificates for William and Ann, but that is very costly. Burial indexes through a pre-paid subscription are a nice alternative.

A London dynasty of gunsmiths and publicans

This post outlines a relatively early London Cavers family. It seems likely that the family had Scottish origins if they could be traced back far enough, but unfortunately this isn’t possible at the moment. For generations the family were gunsmiths and then publicans in the London area.

The earliest known members of the family are William Cavers and his wife Sarah, who can be matched with a marriage on 28 Jan 1808 at Bloomsbury St George. This gives Sarah’s maiden name as Nussey, and both bride and groom were of that parish. The 1851 census records Sarah’s birthplace as Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, which together with her age in 1851 and 1861 allows her likely baptism to be traced, on 16 Apr 1788, daughter of George and Mary Nussey.

However it is possible that an earlier Cavers couple in London are linked to this family. On 23 Jan 1783 William Cavers and Jane Howell married in the church of Harrow St Mary, both of that parish, he a bachelor, she a spinster. It is possible that they were the parents of William who married Sarah Nussey. Alternatively he could be the same man, marrying twice, but the signatures recorded for the grooms at the 1783 and 1808 marriages do not seem to match.

William who married Sarah Nussey was a gun implement maker or gunsmith. He signed a will on 24 Mar 1841, and does not appear in the 1841 census with his family, at Strand Golden Buildings, St Clement Danes, Westminster, so may have died between the two dates. The death of a William Cavers was registered in the April-May-June quarter of 1841 at Strand RD, London. William’s widow Sarah was still living in 1861, described as a “Fundholder”, and probably died in 1865, with a death for Sarah Cavers registered in April-May-June quarter at Pancras RD.

William Cavers and Sarah Nussey had at least the following children:

1. Elizabeth Ann, c. 14 May 1809 at St George, Bloomsbury, Middlesex.

2. Caroline, b. ca 1812 at Clerkenwell, Middlesex. Married 29 Sep 1839 at Saint Bride Fleet St, London, to Charles Darling, cabinet maker who d. between 1861 and 1871. By 1881 Caroline seems to have been an inmate of some sort of hospital at 37 And 38, Gt Alie St, Whitechapel.

The couple’s children were at least:

  • William Darling, b. 1 Aug 1840, c. 22 Nov 1840 Limehouse St Anne. Living in 1861 (then “Engineer Lab”).
  • Jane Darling, b. 5 Aug 1841, c. 27 Aug 1841 Limehouse St Anne. Living in 1871.
  • Charlotte Darling, b. 19 Oct 1842, c. 9 Nov 1842, Limehouse St Anne. Living in 1851.
  • Mary Ann Darling, b. 8 Mar 1844, c. 29 Mar 1844, Limehouse St Anne. Living in 1851.
  • Elizabeth Darling, b. 21 Jun 1845, c. 11 Jul 1845 Limehouse St Anne. Living in 1871.
  • Caroline Darling, b. 20 Sep 1849, c. 28 Oct 1849, Limehouse St Anne. Living in 1861.
  • Charles Darling, b. 9 Feb 1852, c. 4 Jul 1852, Limehouse St Anne. Living in 1871.

3. Jane, b. 23 Jul 1815, c. 20 Oct 1816 at St Andrew Holborn, father’s occupation “Turner”. Married 28 Sep 1845 at Saint Bride Fleet St, London, to Joseph William Dunn. In the 1851 census Joseph’s occupation was “Coach Budgett Trimmer” and Jane’s “Coach Lining Maker”. In 1861 Joseph’s occupation was “Journeyman Harness Maker”. By 1871 Joseph was described as a “Coach Maker”.

The couple’s children were at least:

  • William J. Dunn, b. ca 1845. Living in 1871.
  • Harry F. Dunn, b. ca 1859. Living in 1861.
  • Caroline S. Dunn, b. ca 1851. Living in 1871.
  • Edward J. Dunn, b. ca 1853. Living in 1861.
  • Charlotte Dunn, b. ca 1855. Living in 1871.

4. Charles, c. 16 Nov 1817 at St Giles in the Fields, father’s occupation “Brass-turner”. Charles’s occupation was Gun Maker. Married 7 Feb 1842 at Parish of St Andrew Holborn to Mary Ann Gifford Gravatt (b. ca 1821/2 in London, daughter of Henry Gravatt soap boiler, d. 17 Sep 1855 at 163 Goldhawk Road, Shepherds Bush).

The couple’s children were at least:

  • Maria Cavers, b. 22 May 1843, c. 28 Jun 1843 at Lambeth St John the Evangelist (father “Gun maker”).
  • Charles Cavers, b. 1845, St James RD, London. Married to Mary Ann ???, possibly Mary Ann Cretten: a bride of this name appears on same page of certificates as, apparently, a Charles Covers, in September quarter 1865, St Giles RD, London – very possibly Charles Cavers misindexed. Charles and Mary Ann had issue (at least Ada Elizabeth, Emily Harriet, and Florence Mary). Occupation of Charles at Emily’s 1869 baptism was “Waiter” and at Ada’s 1892 marriage. Though when Emily Harriet married in 1897 her father’s occupation was recorded as “Gun Maker”, as it was when Florence Mary married in 1905. Charles died 1872, Holborn RD, London. In 1881 census his widow’s occupation was Charwoman. By 1891 she was listed as a Cook, Ada as a Machinist, Emily as a Druggist Packer, and Florence as a Feather Curler.
  • Henry Cavers, b. abt 1847, St James or Bow, London. Died 31 Jan 1905, then of 113 Devons Road, Bow. Waiter / Coffee House proprietor. Married 7 Sep 1873 at Parish Church, Camberwell, to Fanny Gravatt (b. abt 1848, St Pancras, daughter of Alfred Gravatt cook, d. aft 31 Jan 1905) with issue (at least Helen, Eleanor, William, Augustus, Alice, Maud and Walter Percy).
  • Herbert Cavers, b. 1848/9 in St James RD, c. 21 Jun 1860 at Holborn St Giles in the Fields. Died 1871 St Saviour RD, London. Married 14 Aug 1870 at Parish Church, Islington, to Harriett Hannah Suckling (daughter of James Suckling, stone mason), with issue (Herbert James Suckling). Harriet remarried, on 6 Feb 1876 at Gray’s Inn Road St Jude, Camden, to George Henry Seymour, a Carpenter.
  • Emily Cavers, b. 1852/3, St James RD or Bloomsbury RD, c, 21 Jun 1860 at Holborn St Giles in the Fields. Married 6 Jul 1873 at Parish Church, Islington, to Thomas Shaddock Stevens (b. 1851/2, Bideford, Devon), a Traveller / Licensed Victualler. Had issue (at least Augustus C., Ada E., Mabel L., Ethel M., Sidney C., Alice G. and Edith G.).
  • Augustus Cavers, c. 21 Jun 1860 at Holborn St Giles in the Fields. Seems to have married his first cousin Alice Fussell on 2 Apr 1882 at Parish Church, Islington St Mary. In mother’s will (1885) Augustus was described as licensed victualler of Wheatsheaf Hotel, Goldhawk Road, Shepherds Bush, Middlesex. Also at one point described as an “Engraver Artiz”. 1891 census reveals that he and Alice had issue (at least Edgar A. and Albert G.)
  • Eliza Cavers, b. abt 1860, c. 21 Jun 1860 at Holborn St Giles in the Fields (father “Gun maker”), d. after 1861.

5. William, c. 19 Nov 1820 at St Pancras Old St Pancras, father’s occupation “Gun smith”. Gun maker. Married 20 Aug 1854 at Myddelton Square St Mark, Islington, to Sarah Thrift (b. ca 1831, daughter of William Thrift bookmaker). William seems to have died between 1881 and 1891, assuming that Sarah Cavers in the 1891 census, widow, aged 61, and charwoman living at 29, Block E Peabody Buildings, Great Wild Street, Bloomsbury was most probably his widow.

The couple’s children were at least:

  • William Cavers, b. 1853/4, St Marylebone, Middlesex. Living in 1881. Probably the 58-year-old William Cavers living in 1911 with nephew Thomas Faulis, Musical Instrument Maker.
  • Emma Cavers, b. abt 1855. Living in 1871.
  • Louisa A Cavers, b. abt 1856. Living in 1871.
  • Edwin G Cavers, b. abt 1857. Living in 1871.
  • Ernest F Cavers, b. abt 1860. Living in 1871.
  • Grace Cavers, b. abt 1860. Married 17 Apr 1881 at Walworth All Saints Church, Southwark, to George William James, Cabman.
  • Alice Cavers, b. abt 1863. Living in 1871.
  • Edith Cavers, b. abt 1866. Living in 1871.
  • Kate Cavers, b. abt 1868. Living in 1871.

6. George, b. ca 1822, buried 20 Apr 1823 at St Andrew, Holborn, London, aged 1. Residence given as St Giles in the Fields. Am assuming that he was most likely a son of William and Sarah.

7. Sarah Maria, c. 27 Feb 1825 at Holborn St Giles in the Fields. Died after 1881. Licensed Victualler in 1871. Publican in 1881. Married 16 Oct 1842 at Parish Church, St Bride, London, to Joseph Fussell, compositor, and later journeyman printer, probably living with his family two doors along from the Cavers family in the 1841 census.

The couple’s children were at least:

  • Sarah Fussell, b. ca 1844, St George the Martyr, Middlesex. Living in 1851.
  • Joseph Fussell, b. ca 1845, Clerkenwell, Middlesex. Alive Living in 1851. Probably the Joseph Fussell, Compositor, son of Joseph Fussell (Deceased) Compositor, who married 19 Jun 1876 at St Peter’s Church, St Peter’s Saffron Hill, London, to Jemima Peppinall (?surname hard to read).
  • Jane Fussell, b. ca 1850. Living in 1871.
  • William Fussell, b. ca 1853. Living in 1871. Probably William Fussell, Warehouseman, son of Joseph Fussell (Deceased) Licensed Victualler, who married 31 Jul 1875 at St Mark’s Dalton, West Hackney, to Frances Helen Fussell.
  • Alice Fussell, b. 1863/4, Middlesex. Occupation before marriage: barmaid. Seems to have married her first cousin Augustus Cavers who was living with her and her mother in 1881. See above. On Alice’s marriage certificate her father Joseph is described as a “Licensed Victualler”.

8. Ann, c. 28 Jan 1827 at St Giles in the Fields. Curiously the 1851 census gives her birthplace as “Somerset Bristol”, possibly a mistake, since other census returns give her birthplace as Middlesex. Died after 1881. Milliner in 1851 census. Dressmaker in 1861 census.

Curiously the 1841 London census lists another early Cavers family, living at Coppin’s Court, St Dunstan In The East parish: Elizabeth, 37, a “Cha?? Woman” [hard to read, may be Char, but also looks like Chain!], William seemingly a son, 27, Jane, 13, Richard, 5 and Jane, 11. But this family does not appear in 1851, and I have no idea where they fit in, if at all.

Another relatively early London reference which can’t be linked up to anyone else yet is the marriage on 18 Jul 1812 at Limehouse St Anne parish between John Rivett and Ann Cavers, both of that parish.

Family of John Cavers and Elizabeth Hislop

This family shows how incomplete references in Scottish parish registers can be. Of the known earliest children of the family, none have baptisms in the parish registers, and all can only be identified from later death certificates, sometimes combined with other records. Even these death certificates can sometimes be misleading, with wrong information recorded for one parent, which has to be carefully teased apart, to piece together the family. It’s also possible there were more children of the early family, but only the ones outlined below have been reliably identified.

A marriage between John Cavers and “Betty Haselhope” is recorded in Hawick parish registers on 17th May 1793. The groom was of Hawick parish, and the bride of Yarrow parish. Note this wasn’t the date of the marriage ceremony, but the giving up of names for proclamation of banns prior to the ceremony: often the only record of a marriage that survives in Scottish parish registers.

There are no baptisms in the parish registers for children of this couple. On the death certificates of the couple’s children John’s occupation is variously recorded as groom and shepherd, although more commonly the latter, suggesting that was probably his main occupation.

Here are outline details of the four known children of John Cavers and Elizabeth Hislop, as far as I and descendants of the family have been able to piece things together:

1. Elizabeth Cavers, b. circa 1794 at Teviothead. Died 31 Dec 1881 at Craick Cottage, Roberton. Married James Nichol. Her death certificate names her parents as John Cavers, Shepherd, and Elizabeth Scott. But she can be identified as a daughter of John Cavers and probably Elizabeth Hislop because in the 1871 census James Cavers son of Robert Cavers and Elizabeth McPherson (see below) was living with James and Elizabeth Nichol in Hawick and described as their nephew. Also in the 1841 Hawick census Robert Cavers (prior to his marriage) had 20-year-old Jean Nichol and 12-year-old Barbra Nichol living with him, almost certainly his two nieces.

Elizabeth and James’s children were:

  • Elisabeth Nichol, c. 30 Nov 1813 at Roberton
  • Janet Nichol, c. 24 Dec 1815 at Roberton
  • Margaret Nichol, c. 20 Nov 1817 at Roberton
  • Jane Nichol, c. 25 Mar 1820 at Roberton
  • Christian Nichol, b. 11 May 1822 at Roberton
  • Joan Nichol, b. 22 Aug 1824 at Roberton
  • John Nichol, c. 27 May 1827 at Roberton
  • Barbara Pott Nichol, c. 15 Feb 1829 at Roberton
  • Walter Nichol, c. 28 Jan 1831 at Roberton
  • Mina or Williamina Nichol, c. 3 Feb 1833 at Roberton, married George Nichol, 3 Aug 1855 at Borthwickshiels Lodge, Roberton. Husband was agricultural labourer, who acted as informant at her mother’s death.
  • Jemima Nichol, b. 7 Apr 1836 at Roberton

2. John Cavers, b. circa 1799/1800 at Teviothead. Died 28 Apr 1865 at 14 Buccleuch Street, Hawick. His death certificate names his parents as James Cavers, Shepherd, and Elizabeth Hislop; almost certainly a mistake for father John, which fits with the known 1793 marriage, and the name given to his eldest son. John’s occupation was groom or ostler, and he lived for much of his married life at Teviothead. He married Margaret Cleghorn (recorded 20 Nov 1820 at Mertoun parish, Berwickshire) who was born circa 1802/1803 at Ancrum, daughter of George Cleghorn and Mary Hills, and died 8 Jul 1863 at Change House, Teviothead.

John and Margaret’s children were:

  • John Cavers, c. 5 Mar 1820 at Hawick, d. 4 Mar 1873 at Burn Lady part field, Whitelaw farm, Lauder in Berwickshire. Occupation variously: horse breaker and coachman. Married 1852 at Hobkirk (per daughter’s 1855 birth certificate), also recorded 20 Aug 1852 in Southdean parish registers. Married to Catharine Allan, b. ca 1852 at Haddington, daughter of John Allan and Helen Sandilands. She d. 16 Feb 1887 at Hawick, then described as “Keeper of a Temperance Hotel”. The couple had 2 children (John, Helen Allan).
  • Mary Cavers, c. 4 Jul 1822 at Hawick. Died 15 Jan 1881 at 27 Douglas Street, Galashiels. Married Andrew Harvey, wool factory worker, marriage recorded at Hawick, 2 Dec 1844. Had at least 9 children (Margaret, Agnes, Mary, Wilhelmina, a girl between 1851 and 1855, Charlotte, Elizabeth Hammond, Thomas, and John Cavers).
  • Elizabeth Cavers, b. ca 1822/3 at Jedburgh. First husband was a Mr Wright, possibly John Wright who married Betsy Cavers, recorded in Minto parish registers, 3 Sep 1842. Sons John Wright and Alexander Mein Wright were born 1847 and 1849 with these parents and baptised at Hawick Free Church. Second marriage (as “Elizabeth Cavers or Wright, Widow”) 8 May 1871 at Cowcaddens Street, Glasgow, to James Robertson, Ostler or Groom, son of James Robertson and Margaret Robertson. On the marriage certificate Elizabeth’s mother is noted as “Elizabeth Cavers M.S. Cleghorn” but this is probably a slip for Margaret. Elizabeth would fit this family well.
  • Margaret Cavers, c. 26 Feb 1826 at Jedburgh. Married Robert Kerr, joiner from Newcastleton, 4 Dec 1846. Had at least 9 children (Margaret, Robert, another daughter before 1855, John, Walter, John Cavers, Helen, Janet, and Francis Napier). Emigrated to Manitoba, Canada, with her family.
  • Jeanie or Jane Cavers, c. 22 Jul 1827 at Jedburgh. Probably 21-year-old Jane Cavers from Jedburgh recorded in 1851 census at Buccleuch Street in Melrose, servant in home of James B. Clarkson, General Medical Practitioner. Probably married James (Mc)Hen(d)ry, a coachman from Galway, Ireland, marriage recorded 29 Sep 1851 at Melrose, with at least 9 children (Jane, another girl, John, William, Margaret Stevenson, Mary, Mary Frances, Janet Reid Ovens, Isabella Park, and Ann).
  • Charlotte Cavers, b. 30 Jul 1829 at Jedburgh. Probably 19-year-old in 1851 census working as house servant in home of William Currie, retired gamekeeper at St Boswells. Seems to have had at least 2 illegitimate children (Jane, and Janet), before marrying John Rodgerson, labourer, 7 Oct 1859 at Teviothead. Couple had at least 5 children (Robert, David, Margaret Cleghorn, John Cavers, and Andrew).
  • George Cavers, c. 9 Jan 1831 at Jedburgh. Married Annie Richardson, Jan 1854 at Hawick (per son George’s birth certificate). Worked as coachman, although was also recorded as fire brigade driver in Glasgow (1856). Had at least 8 children (John, Walter, George, Margaret, Robert, Annie, James Richardson, and Thomas).
  • Agnes Cavers, c. 1 Aug 1832 at Jedburgh. Probably 18-year-old in 1851 Hawick census at Silver Street working as cook for innkeeper James Sheil and his family. Probably married John Grieve, recorded 17 Dec 1852 at Roberton. Couple had at least 11 children (Thomas S., Margaret, Robert, John Cavers, Christopher, John, Walter, Agnes Hislop, Christopher Cavers, Mary Cavers, and Esther). Children born variously in Dumfriesshire, Roxburghshire, Ross & Cromarty, and Lanarkshire. By 1881 the family was at Kirk Yetholm Mains in Yetholm parish, Roxburghshire.
  • Janet Cavers, b. ca 1834/5 per 1841 census, assuming the 6-year-old Janet Cavers in the family of John Cavers and Margaret Cleghorn was their daughter.
  • Robert Cavers, b. 5 Sep 1837 at Teviothead. Married Agnes Mather, 9 Oct 1857 at Hawick. Died 29 Aug 1859 at Path, Wilton. Occupation on death certificate Tailor (Journeyman). Buried in Wilton Churchyard. Had 2 children (John, and Robina Janet).

3. Robert Cavers, b. circa 1801/2 at Hawick. Died 2 Jan 1871 at Wellington Street, Wilton. His death certificate names his parents as John Cavers, Shepherd, and Elizabeth Hislop. Robert’s occupation was grocer and spirit dealer. He had married Elizabeth McPherson who was b. circa 1819 at Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire, daughter of James McPherson, agricultural labourer, and Mary Bell. Elizabeth died 4 Aug 1864 at Howegate, Hawick.

Robert and Elizabeth’s children were:

  • John Cavers, c. 10 Sep 1846 at Hawick. Listed with parents in 1851 census. Emigrated to Manitoba, Canada.
  • Agnes Wilson Cavers, c. 4 Mar 1849 at Hawick. Not listed with parents in 1851 census, so may have been dead by then.
  • James Cavers, c. 27 Oct 1850 at Hawick. Listed with parents in 1851 census. Emigrated to Manitoba, Canada.
  • Elizabeth Hislop Cavers, b. 12 Mar 1853 at Hawick. Died 24 Mar 1863 at 11 Howegate, Hawick.

4. Jane Cavers, b. circa 1803 at Hawick. Died 18 Feb 1861 at Hope Park, Wilton. Her death certificate names her parents as John Cavers, Shepherd, and Elizabeth Hislop. Jane had married John Howison, Wool Frame Work Knitter, born circa 1804 at Hawick or Wilton, who survived her.

Jane and John’s children were at least:

  • Isabella Howison, b. circa 1832 at Hawick
  • Robert Howison, c. 20 Apr 1834 at Hawick
  • Elizabeth Howison, c. 22 Sep 1835 at Hawick
  • Robert Howison, c. 23 Dec 1838 at Hawick
  • Jane Howison, c. 26 Sep 1841 at Hawick
  • John Cavers Howison, c. 7 May 1843 at Hawick, m. Agnes Scott, 1867, Hawick, with at least 4 children (Mary, Jane, John, and Jane)
  • Adam Howison, b. 24 Jun 1845 at Hawick, baptised 12 Oct 1845 at Hawick Free Church. Wool sorter. Married 31 May 1867 at 55 High Street, Hawick, to Jean Welsh.

There may have been additional children of John Cavers and Elizabeth Hislop. One likely candidate is a man who appears in the 1851 census, but, frustratingly, his first name is not recorded:

1851 Hobkirk census, enumeration district 2, pages 11 and 12, schedule 46
Wolflee Farm:
________ Cavers, 44, U. Horsebreaker, born Hawick. He was in the household of John Murray, 43, Farmer of 145 arable & 3300 pasture, with his wife, 2 sons & cook, housemaid, 3 Ag. servants, & the Horsebreaker Cavers.

Another possible child of this family is Isabella Cavers, who d. 23 Nov 1871 at Newton, Bedrule. Census returns variously give her birthplace as Teviothead and Hawick, around 1796. Her death certificate names her parents as John Cavers, groom, and his wife Mary Lillico, both deceased. But given how unreliable death certificate information can be, and the mention of a groom occupation, plus Teviothead as a possible birthplace, she may have been another child of John Cavers and Elizabeth Hislop, born between Elizabeth and John. I will outline Isabella’s family in another blog post.

As for tracing the line further back in time, at the moment I don’t think that would be possible. There are plenty of possible Church of Scotland christenings for John, but there is as far as I know no way to identify any as “the” one. Plus enormous proportions of Scottish births are not recorded in any surviving parish registers. Like the births of his children, his birth might be one of those.

Family of James Cavers and Isabella Coltherd

This family is important as an example of a Cavers family tree because it shows how incomplete references in historical records can be pieced together to build up a more complete family tree. It is also a relatively early Scottish Cavers family tree.

The earliest confident references to the family are a series of baptisms of sons in 1760s Roberton parish, a parish near Hawick straddling county boundaries in Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire:

May 14 1761: Baptised John son to James Cavers in Horsecleugh.

Jany 16 1763: Baptised Francis son to James Cavers in Harden.

April 30 1765: Baptised James son to James Cavers in Harden.

Octr 2 1767: Baptised Walter son to James Cavers in Harden.

One of these sons, James, lived to be 98, and can be traced in 19th century census returns, linking him conclusively, along with his extremely precise age at death, to the Roberton baptism. His 1863 Hawick death certificate names his parents as James Cavers, Shepherd, and his wife Isabella Coulthard, both of them deceased. There is no marriage recorded for a couple of this name, but there is a marriage recorded between a “Walter” Cavers and Isabella Coltherd in Roberton parish dated 1760 May 31. Both the bride and the groom were living in Roberton parish at the time of their marriage.

My suspicion is that this is a mis-recording in the parish registers (happened surprisingly often in these historical records) and that groom Walter was really James. This is more likely because the marriage record was not a record of the marriage ceremony, but rather a payment made before proclamation of banns, which might be more prone to memory errors than the ceremony itself. The 1760 groom being James would fit well with the later run of baptisms, and crucially also the death certificate of James Cavers (1765-1863). It also fits with the names that that son James gave to his many children, including second daughter (who would normally, per traditional Scottish naming patterns, be named after his mother) who he named Isobel.

Going further back in time it is possible that Isabella Coltherd was a daughter of Francis Coltherd and Isobel Young who married in 1724 in Roberton parish and had many children baptised there. An index of Selkirkshire baptisms checked many years ago at the Scottish Borders Archive and Local History Centre (when it was at St Mary’s Mill in Selkirk) includes the baptism of a daughter Isobel in 1737. However the parish register entry for this baptism is extremely faint, and it is difficult to be sure if this child’s name was correct, although it appears to have “called Isobel” squeezed in at the end. Other children of the couple were Mary (1727), George (1732), John (1734), William (1739), Agnes (1742) and Agnes (1745).

James Cavers is harder to trace back in time, but the parish registers have such scanty coverage and most Cavers births at this time are unrecorded. There doesn’t seem to be a promising baptism for James. If his father was called John, as the name of his eldest known son might suggest, then perhaps he was related to either John Cavers married to Elspeth Young, 3 Jul 1725 at Hawick or John Cavers married to Agnes Easten, 30 Nov 1729 at Wilton.

It is not known when James Cavers or Isabella Coltherd died, or where. However two of their sons were buried in Wilton churchyard in the town of Hawick, in the old Wilton churchyard south of Princes Street whose stones were cleared in the 1950s:

1938 Hawick Archaeological Society Transactions
Wilton graveyard, p. 45, 3. H.S.
On Front – In Memory of JANE WATSON (rest illegible)
On Back – In Memory of FRANCIS CAVERS, late shepherd, Peelbrae-hope, who died 5th January 1810 aged _7 years; (also) …IA HOGG, … Lo—ide Brae, 22nd April 18__ aged 24 (?) years.

The front of the stone commemorated Francis and Euphemia’s daughter-in-law Jane Watson (first wife of their son James). Euphemia Hogg’s age at death was difficult to read (hence the question mark), and it is likely the stone had worn or crumbled and the age was originally different. On old worn gravestones the number 5 commonly changes with time to 2 and it is quite likely that Euphemia was in her 50s when she died. Peelbraehope is a place in Cavers parish, and Euphemia probably died at Longside Brae, another place in Cavers parish.

Francis’s brother James was buried nearby:

1938 Hawick Archaeological Society Transactions
Wilton graveyard, p. 44:
In memory of JEAN SCOTT, spouse to James Cavers, born at Thorn-hall 4th Aug. 1760, died at Woodfoot 29 Dec. 1813; also three of their children; also the above JAMES CAVERS, who died at Hawick 1st June 1863, aged 98 years; and JANE BOLE, his second wife, who died at Hawick 5th May 1855, aged 54 years.

Now here are outline details of the four known children of James Cavers and Isabella Coltherd, and their children where known:

1. John Cavers, c. 14 May 1761 at Roberton. Nothing further known.

2. Francis Cavers, christened 16 Jan 1763 at Roberton. Worked as a shepherd. Married 9 Jun 1789 to Euphemia Hogg, he living at Ropelawsheall in Ettrick parish at marriage, she at Craiksheall in Roberton parish. The family moved around over subsequent years, but ultimately settled in Cavers parish. Francis died in 1810, and there was a family gravestone (now removed) in Wilton Churchyard.

Francis and Euphemia’s children were:

  • James Cavers, christened 28 Nov 1789 at Ettrick. Died 6 Jul 1875 at Kirkton. Worked as a shepherd and married twice, firstly to Jane Watson (died 1830) in 1813, with issue (Margaret, Euphemia, Francis, Walter, Jane and Helen); secondly to Janet Jackson, seemingly with no issue, and she apparently died before him according to his death certificate. James was an elder at the United Presbyterian Church in Hawick, and I have seen a photograph of him, found by sheer chance one day while browsing through a book about that church.
  • Thomas Cavers, born June 1791 at Ettrick. Died between 1835 and 1841. Worked as ploughman. Marriage recorded 16 May 1813 at Wilton parish to Helen Scott (born circa 1792 in Hobkirk, Roxburghshire; d. 1870 at Wilton Dean, Wilton), illegitimate daughter of joiner William Scott and Elizabeth Ingles later second wife of Thomas Hope of Hope Park, Wilton. Couple had large family (Francis, Helen, James, John, Margaret, Elizabeth, Thomas, William, Euphemia, and Jane). This is my line. I descend from their daughter Margaret, wife of Hugh Hall at Wilton Dean.
  • Francis Cavers, christened 8 Aug 1793 at Kirkton. Nothing further known.
  • Margaret Cavers, christened 29 May 1796 at Kirkton. Nothing further known.
  • William Cavers, christened 25 Nov 1798 at Kirkton. Worked as a shepherd and moved about a fair bit, before settling at Ashkirk, Roxburghshire. Died at St Boswells on 12 Aug 1873. He had married Mary Hunter, who was born circa 1805 at Tinwald, Dumfriesshire. The couple had at least 5 children (Francis, Mary, Elizabeth, Euphemia, and David).
  • John Cavers, born 24 Jun 1801 at Cavers. He married Agnes Gregor (born ca 1797, Canonbie, died before 1871) who sometimes appears under the surname spelling McGregor. The couple had 4 children (Francis, John, James and Catherine) and about 1855 the family emigrated to Ontario, Canada, settling in the Sydenham/Owen Sound area where they worked as farmers. Father John Cavers died 18th April 1880 at Sydenham.
3. James Cavers, christened 30 Apr 1765 at Roberton. Died 1 Jun 1863 at 12 Kirkwynd, Hawick. Death certificate records his occupation as “General Labourer”, the same occupation recorded for him in the 1851 census. The 1841 census recorded him as an “Ag Lab”. James married twice, firstly in 1788 in Cavers parish to Jean Scott (1760-1813), secondly in 1825 in Kirkton parish to Jean Bole (ca1800-1855), daughter of James Bole and Margaret Scott. Descendants of this family have seen a painting of James Cavers in Wilton Lodge Museum in Hawick.

Children of James Cavers and Jean Scott were:

  • James, christened 3 Oct 1790 at Kirkton. Probably the same James Cavers who emigrated to Galt, Ontario, Canada, and died there 30 Jul 1861. Married Mary Biggar (died Mar 1864 at Galt) and had at least 3 children (Andrew, John, and a daughter). The evidence for linking this Canadian James to this Scotland-born one is the death notice which appeared in the “Hawick Advertiser” newspaper after his death: “CAVERS. at Galt, on 30th July 1861, Mr. James Cavers, eldest son of Mr. James Cavers, Hawick.” And the Canadian death certificate of James and Mary’s son John Cavers gives his father’s birthplace as Roxburghshire, Scotland.
  • Christian, christened 7 Oct 1793 at Kirkton. Nothing futher known.
  • David, christened 14 Jun 1795 at Kirkton. Died 19 Oct 1874 at 18 High Riggs, Edinburgh. Worked as a waiter. Married 1830 at Dunfermline to Margaret Thomson, with one known child (Elizabeth).
  • Isobel, christened 15 Oct 1797 at Kirkton. Nothing further known.
  • Walter, christened 30 Jun 1799 at Kirkton. Nothing further known.
  • Robert, christened 12 Jul 1801 at Kirkton. Nothing further known.
  • John, christened 8 Aug 1803 at Kirkton. Nothing further known.

Similarly the children of James Cavers and Jean Bole, his second wife, were:

  • Jane, born 26 Sep 1826 at Kirkton. Still alive in 1855 per mother’s death certificate. Nothing further known.
  • Margaret, christened 30 Apr 1829 at Kirkton. Died in 1852 aged 23, per mother’s 1855 death certificate.
  • Isobel, christened 9 Mar 1832 at Kirkton. Still alive in 1855 per mother’s death certificate. Nothing further known.
  • Joannah, christened 21 Dec 1834 at Kirkton. Still alive in 1855 per mother’s death certificate. Nothing further known.
  • Walter Martin, born ca 1842, per mother’s 1855 death certificate. Emigrated to Galt, Ontario, Canada. Died in 1922 at Galt, having married in 1866 Rebecca Wilkinson (ca1838-1909), daughter of Solomon Wilkinson and Catherine Baird, and had 4 known children (Catherine Baird, Elizabeth Jane, Rebecca Jemina, and James John).
  • James, died in 1849 aged 3 1/2 years, per mother’s 1855 death certificate.

4. Walter Cavers, christened 2 Oct 1767 at Roberton. Nothing further known.