Cavers people in the Radio Times archive

The Radio Times is a UK radio and TV listings magazine which has been in print since the dawn of broadcasting in the UK, starting in 1923.

More recently an online digitised archive of its old BBC listings was created. This can be searched by keyword, meaning that it is possible to look for Cavers references.

Of course there is the usual problem of non surname results. Though unlike the British Newspaper Archive the issue this time is not Cavers the place name. Rather it is finding numerous references to potholers, people who explore caves!

Nevertheless there are useful surname references to be uncovered, albeit a tiny proportion of the 102 search results for “Cavers” (all meanings).

For example from 1924 and 1925 we find a Mr A.S. Cavers Secretary of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society appearing in the programme “Farmers’ Corner”, talking about “Clean Milk”. He was probably Adam Scott Cavers born in Yorkshire in 1854, son of Francis Cavers and Agnes Scott, but grew up in Hawick, after his parents returned to his father’s home area. He was an older brother of the Argyll siblings I blogged about recently. Later he appears living in Loughborough, Leicestershire, England, married with children. I suspect he was probably Adam S. Cavers whose death was registered in nearby Hinckley registration district in 1931, aged 76.

More recently, from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, we find actress Terry Cavers, accounting for 43 search results. She was a prolific performer on the BBC between 1971 and 1990, appearing in numerous plays and dramas, on television and on radio. Many were Scottish works, such as the “Kidnapped and Catriona” 1985 radio version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novels. Likewise she appeared in the 1982 television series of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s “Cloud Howe” and modern Scottish classic play “The Cheviot, the Stag, and the Black, Black Oil” on BBC One in 1975. From her entry in the Internet Movie Database (which also covers TV programmes) we find that she also appeared in ITV’s Scottish television stalwart “Taggart”.

Cavers events database uploaded to Google Docs

Ever since I registered my Cavers one-name study with the Guild of One-Name Studies I’ve been building up a database of events of Cavers people, using Microsoft Excel. So births, marriages, deaths, christenings, census returns, and so on. In the last few years it has stopped being updated, as my illness got worse, but it is still a useful resource, often including very obscure references that I have found, or friends have found and forwarded to me. As of today there are nearly 3000 entries in the Cavers events database.

In the interests of sharing this resource, and in particular in case anything happens to me (my health situation is extremely precarious), I have just uploaded it to Google Docs and it can be found and viewed through this link.

I need to explain the format though. There are 13 fields, each taking up a column of the spreadsheet:

  • surname (not always Cavers)
  • forenames
  • date
  • event
  • place
  • age
  • relatives (if named in record)
  • source (identifying the original record I found)
  • notes (for miscellaneous things like occupation etc.)
  • birthplace (if recorded e.g. in birth or census returns)
  • other names (surnames)
  • connection (where person fits into Cavers trees, e.g. c[hild of] Adam Cavers and Janet Clark or s[pouse of] Helen Scott)
  • other (for any other genealogical notes)

As you’ll probably gather it’s quite ad-hoc! But it sort of works.

The entries are sorted by forename, date, event. But because of the way the dates were entered as general text fields, including dates that may or may not have a month and day after the year, the sorting isn’t perfect. So, for example, there are entries in the spreadsheet for Adam Cavers in 1855, 1864, 1879 etc. and then these are followed by Adam Cavers references to years+months+days, e.g. 1770 Nov 11, 1782 Oct 9. Apologies. But keep that in mind when browsing through the data.

Places in the database are generally abbreviated for county names, at least in Scotland. So, for example, Hawick would be recorded as “Hawick, ROX”, using the standard genealogical abbreviation for Roxburghshire. Apologies if this is confusing in places. The spreadsheet was created for my own use. Other common county abbreviations you may see include SEL for Selkirkshire, BEW for Berwickshire, DFS for Dumfriesshire, MLN for Midlothian and so on. For a full list of them see here.

The events database is particularly strong for Scotland. And also very good for Ontario (Canada). Moderately good for England. But it has a way to go.

Census events in it generally go up to 1891. There are obviously later census references that can now be found for the family, but I haven’t put them into the database yet. They are generally well indexed though, at the various websites such as Ancestry.

At the moment I am not inviting new entries for the database, though that may change. In the meantime though, please feel free to browse it on the web, and to download it if you want. Using the file menu provides various download options, and you can save the whole sheet to your computer. But other people can’t currently edit the document online.

Painting of James Cavers (1765-1863) “Old Dunneram”

I wrote a blog post some time ago about a newspaper report regarding the 97th birthday of James Cavers. He was my 6xg-uncle, and has direct descendants still living today.

I knew there was a painting of him in the Hawick Museum in Wilton Lodge Park, though I’d never seen the original, just a photograph of it. It’s now been digitised and can be viewed online. Take a look, for a glimpse into the past and an interesting Cavers character.

It’s part of the BBC’s Your Paintings website which is related to a project to digitise the UK’s paintings. You can search by keyword, and it’s worth looking at the results for searching for Hawick, to see what the town so many Cavers people lived in looked like. Click on any of the small thumbnails to see bigger versions and more details about them.

A Cavers couple signing the Ulster Covenant in 1912

In 1912 nearly half a million people in Ireland and elsewhere signed the Ulster Covenant and the parallel Declaration for women, campaigning against Home Rule in Dublin. This record has recently been digitised, and the names of signatories can be searched online.

There are two Cavers references among the signatories: Samuel Cavers (b. 1865) from Hawick, Scotland, and his wife Christina. This couple also appear in the 1911 Irish census, one of the few census returns to survive for Ireland. They lived in Spamount, County Tyrone, and by 1911 had three young children.

All of the family were noted in the census as Presbyterian, and given that they were Presbyterians living in Northern Ireland it is not surprising that they were against Ireland breaking away from the United Kingdom.

Samuel Cavers was the son of my gggg-uncle James Cavers (1819-1892) who was beadle or church officer of the parish church of Wilton, in Hawick.

In other branches of my family tree I recently made great breakthroughs researching a great-grandmother born in Dublin in 1879. Her family were Roman Catholic and, unsurprisingly, the surviving family members in Ireland do not appear on the Ulster Covenant list. They were probably in favour of Irish Home Rule.

A Cavers household in 1831 Jedburgh

In Scotland detailed listings of population started with the 1841 census. Before then, in 1801, 1811, 1821 and 1831, there were simple head counts. Occasionally records from these head counts survive that mention individuals. This is very rare though. But one example that does is Jedburgh in Roxburghshire in 1831.

I’ve just bought the newly published transcript of the Jedburgh 1831 census listing. It lists heads of household, by street, including the head’s occupation, and numbers of males and females in their household. And it includes a Cavers: J. Cavers, postman at Canongate, Jedburgh. I think this must have been John Cavers (1799/1800-1865) husband of Margaret Cleghorn who was discussed in an earlier blog post.

This census return records that there was one male above 20 years in the household, which would be John himself, as well as two males under 20, presumably his sons John and George, the latter then a baby. There were 7 females in the household, which fits with his wife plus known daughters at the time (Mary, Elizabeth, Margaret, Jeanie, and Charlotte), as well as one female servant who the census records for the household.

Despite only recording partial detail the Jedburgh 1831 return is really interesting for providing a street-by-street listing of occupations, and some miscellaneous notes about servants etc. I look forward to studying it in more detail.

Cavers boy saving another boy from drowning in 1933

Thanks to the GOONS (Guild of One-Name Studies) mailing list I’ve just learned of an online searchable index to Lanark County [Ontario] Genealogical Society’s website and online resources. Obviously with the large number of Cavers people living there from the 19th century onwards it’s worth checking their resources.

There are quite a few references to Cavers people in the site, but I particularly liked this one, seemingly printed in the Souvenir Perth Old Home Week Booklet of June/July 1948:

1933 May 6 – ARTHUR CAVERS, aged 10 years, rescued HARRY STAFFORD, aged 4 years, from drowning in the Little Tay River, near the Park.  Later Arthur was presented with a parchment Certificate from the Royal Canadian Humane Society.

Is Arthur a relative of anyone reading this blog?

Also as someone living relatively near to the original Perth in Scotland, and also beside the mouth of the very large River Tay, it was quite nice to find there is a Tay River at the Canadian Perth, presumably named after its Scottish namesake. The Scottish River Tay flows past and through Perth out east to the Firth of Tay, by Dundee, where I live.

A Cavers celebrating his 97th birthday in 1862

I’ve been searching the newly-launched British Newspaper Archive. Few Scottish Borders papers have been digitised yet, but I’ve still been able to find lots of useful Cavers references, which I plan to share here over time. To start with here is the report of the 97th birthday celebrations of James Cavers (1765-1863), son of James Cavers and Isabella Coltherd. This report was almost certainly originally published in a Hawick newspaper, but was reproduced throughout Britain. This extract comes from the Dundee, Perth, and Cupar Advertiser on Friday 16 May 1862, p6:

AN ANCIENT STATIONER – James Cavers, better known as “Old Dunneram,” plies about the streets of Hawick, selling stationery and almanacks, and the other day attained his ninety-seventh year, and is in the enjoyment of excellent health. Some of the Hawick people kindly collected a purse of money and presented it to him on his birth-day. The old man was much gratified with the present, and assured his friends he “had gane lang aboot, and wad gang langer yet, and though now gotten somewhat stiff in the joints, he hadna a pain in a’ his body.”

Cavers death after assault in Hawick, 1874

Only recently I discovered that my distant g..uncle Francis Cavers in Hawick had died from injuries sustained in an assault in 1874. His death certificate, which I’d checked previously, gave the cause of death as “inflammation of Brain, 8 days”, which didn’t strike me as anything unusual. But it was only through a search in the online Scotsman newspaper archive that I discovered the fuller story:

The Scotsman; 1874 July 7. JEDBURGH-JURY COURT-At a Jury Court at Jedburgh yesterday, Walter Murray, labourer, Wilton-dean, was charged with assaulting Francis Cavers, gardener, Wilton Lodge, by knocking him down with his fist, and attempting to strangle him. From the evidence it appeared that each party had given the other the lie before the assault took place. Cavers had been so seriously maltreated that congestion of the brain set in, and he died three weeks after the assault. The jury, by a majority, found the charge proven, but considering that there might have been provocation, recommended the prisoner to the leniency of the Court. The Sheriff sentenced Murray to two months’ imprisonment.

Sometime I plan to check local newspapers in Hawick, to see if they say any more about the incident and subsequent death and trial. I’d also like to check the trial papers, if they survive, but I’m not sure if they’d be in Edinburgh, or in Jedburgh. The death must have had a big impact on the family at the time. Francis Cavers was married, with six children, and also had many surviving brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces. He was the oldest son of Thomas Cavers and Helen Scott, and a great-grandson of James Cavers and Isabella Coltherd.