Seasonal greetings and best wishes for 2020

Festive greetings to fellow Cavers researchers, and all the best for the coming year.

I’ve signed up for a Guild of One-Name Studies blogging challenge, and will be aiming to blog here more over the coming months. The long-term aim is to encourage me to blog more here about my Cavers research for years to come. But there may be quite an influx of posts over the next three months.

Topics will vary. I have a mix of blog ideas lined up. For starters lots of fun old newspaper references, very much light, frothy pieces, but often amusing.

Another theme will be to blog about some of the Cavers artefacts I got hold of recently, including a US baby photo from a century ago and a WW1 soldier reference letter.

Along the way of the one-name study I’ve encountered many characterful Cavers people from the distant past, and plan to write about some of those in coming weeks. have recently added a number of interesting data sets of records, and I plan to blog about some of the Cavers entries found in these.

I also have some new Cavers genealogy (family lineage) blogs planned. And some blogs about some more mysterious Cavers people from the past, and what we know of them, and where they might possibly fit in.

So much to come, if all goes as planned. Watch this space!

1854 inventory of possessions (household and farming) of Walter Cavers farmer of Dykes, Cavers parish, Roxburghshire

Recently I checked what I think is the earliest surviving after-death list of possessions for a Cavers person. Sadly almost all pre-1823 Roxburghshire testaments (wills and inventories) have been lost as part of the missing records of Peebles Commissary Court. So I think the earliest list of possessions for a Cavers named person, anywhere in the world, is this one.

The deceased man was Walter Cavers (1778-1854) son of Robert Cavers and Margaret Henderson. Walter appears in the 1841 and 1851 census returns at Dykes farm, with his wife Margaret. But she had presumably died before he did. His next of kin per the testament after he died was his younger brother Adam Cavers (1782-1864).

After Walter died an inventory of his personal possessions was drawn up, as part of winding up his estate. The overall valuations were as follows:

There pertained to the said Defunct at the time of his death the goods and gear and effects following vizt
1. Cash in the House £13 3 10
2. Household furniture, Stock, crop and implements of Husbandry, as per Inventory & valuation of Nicol Furness Joiner and Robert Bulman and John Scott farmers 217 16 9
(Signed) Adam Cavers Geo Oliver £ 231 “ 7

But far more interesting is the detailed room by room list of his possessions, including working its way around his farm house and recording the crops and animals he had. The values are all in pounds, shillings and pence.

Inventory & Valuation of the Household furniture, Stock, crop and other effects which belonged to the late Walter Cavers farmer Dykes who died there on 11th Feby 1854 The furniture valued by Nicol Furnace Joiner & the Stock crop and other effects by Messrs Robert Bulman and John Scott Farmers

Under Bedroom
Books & Books case £ – 10 –
Eight day Clock 1 10 –
Desk & Drawers 1 – –
Corner Cupboard – 2 6
Two Bed Fronts – 5 –
Two Bedroom Tables – 5 –
Two Chairs – 3 –
Bedroom Bars & fire irons – 1 –
Body Clothes 1 10 –
Linens – 10 –
Pillows & Towels – 10 –

No 2 Dining Room
A Sofa – 5 –
Two Tables – 10 –
Six Chairs – 10 –
Knife Box – 2 –
Weather Glass – 2 6
Two Brass Candlesticks – 2 6
Grate & fire irons – 10 –
A Carpet – 2 6
Seven tumblers and eight glasses – 3 –
Two Crystal Bottles – 1 –
Mustard Pot – – 2
Pepper Cask – – 2
A Salt Cask – – 2
Two Crystal Plates – – 8
Dozen of China Sugar bowl and Slop basin – 3 –
Japanned Tea Pot and cream pot – 1 6
Six Tody ladles with sugar Tongs – 1 6
Six Tea spoons – – 6
Four Egg spoons – – 1
Twelve Horn spoons – 2 6
Tureen & divider – 2 –
Twelve Broth plates – 2 –
Two Ashets – – 3
Four plain plates – – 6
Six Bread plates – – 9
Tea tray – – 9
Four Jugs – 2 –
Bread Basket and two Servers

No 3 The Lobby
Eight day Clock 2 – –
A Table – 1 –

No 4 Best Bedroom upperflat
A press & Mirror – 3 –
Basin stand & ware – 2 –
Three Chairs – 3 –
Two beds & Curtains – 10 –
Two Counterpanes – 10 –
Four Ticks three Bolsters, Four Pillows – 6 –
Five water pots – 1 –
A Carpet – 3 –
Bars & Jambstones – 1 6

No 5 Cheese Room
Cheese Barrow – 5 –

No 6 Wester Bedroom upperflat
Bed and four pair of Blankets one Bolster and one Pillow – 14 –
Single Barreled Gun – 5 –
Ten pair of blankets 2 – –
One bolster Two PIllows – 3 –
Riding Saddle & Bridle – 1 6
Screen for drying clothes – – 6
A press – 1 –
Barley Meal seive Thirty one fleeces of wool 3 – –
Bars and Jambstones – 2 6

No 7 Kitchen Loft
Meal Arle – 2 –
Long wheel and reel & yarn winder – 2 6
Back and Boards – 3 –
Sundries of other articles – 2 6

No 8 Milk House
Thirty two Bottles – 2 6
Fourteen Milk Bowies – 6 –
Eight Milk Plates – 2 –
Nine Cream Cans – 2 6
A Cage – 1 –
Half Peck – – 6
Chesfords – 1 6
Milk House Shelves – 1 6

No 9 Kitchen
Sixteen Bowls Eight Ashets Eleven Broth Plates – 3 –
Three pudding dishes  – – 3
Four tea cups Six tea spoons – 1 4
Tea Caddy – – 6
Eight horn spoons – – 6
Six Breakfast Knives six Forks – 1 6
Eight Table knives eight forks – 1 6
Tin Kettle – 1 –
Bread Toaster – – 3
Dripping Pan – – 2
Four Candlesticks – – 4
Meal Box – – 2
Bread Basket – – 2
Kitchen Bellows – – 1
Two Kettles – 1 –
Two Oven Pans – 1 3
Two large Pots – 2 6
Three water cans – – 6
Two small Pots – – 3
Furnace Pot – 5 –
Oven & Swey – 10 –
Bars and Tongs – 5 –
Dresser & Table – 5 –
Bed two Pair of Blankets & covering Bolster & Picks – 10 –
Press – – 6
Five Stools – 1 –
Barrel Churn – 2 6
Stone cheese Press – 2 6
Water Barrel – – 6
Three Tubs & Boats – 3 3
Water Grate – – 6

No 10 Barn
Thrashing Mill 10 – –
Pair of Fanners – 2 –
Four Riddles – – 8
Two Corn weights – – 6
Hand Humbler – – 6
Bushel Measure – 2 6
Sixteen corn Bags – 10 –
Barn Barrow – 2 6

No 11 Straw Barn
Trap Ladder & Screen – – 6
Two Long Carts – 10 –
Corn Rake – – 6
Spade & Scythe – 1 –
Four sheep Nets – 4 –

No 12 Cart Shed
Two Short Carts 1 10 –
Pair of Wheels with Iron axletree – 5 –
A few net stakes – 1 8
Cross cut Saw – 1 –
Hand Saw & Hatchet – 1 6
Two Turnip Pickers – – 6
Three Turnip Hoes – – 3
Draining Pick – 1 –
Shovel Spade – 1 –
Grinding Stone – – 2
Four Forks – 2 –
Piercer – – 10
Two Cattle Hemmels – 1 –
Two Long Ladders – 1 –

No 13 Stable
[loads with no value noted – unlikely all with no value? especially the horses]
Four Horses
Three Cart Saddles
Four Pair of Plough chains
Four Neck Collars
Four pair of haims and four Bridles
Two pair of Plough Reins
Corn Chest
Two Beds six Pair of Blankets
two Picks Two Bolsters
Two Iron Ploughs
Weeding Plough
Three pair Harness
Break Harrow
Turnip Sowing Machine
Three Large Grapes – 3 –
Two Small ones – – 6
Two Sheep Boxes – 1 –
Turkeys – 5 –
Thirty eight Hens 1 8 6
Two Stone Hen Troughs – – 2
To four Cows 32 – –
Two Queys 12 – –
Three Calves 3 – –
Thirty one old sheep 28 – –
Forty Score Lambs 22 – –
Brood Sow & eight Pigs 4 – –

11 Acres of Oats 11 – –
15 Acres of Peas 15 – –
43 Acres of Oats & barley 23 – –
Potatoes 2 14 –
Turnips  – 8 –
£ 216 16 9

The above Inventory & Valuation taken and made by us respectively to the best of our knowledge and judgement (Signed) Nicholas Furness. John Scott. Robert Bulmars.

Remembering an Australian Cavers soldier on Anzac Day

Today, 25th April, is a day of remembrance for the many soldiers from Australia and New Zealand who served in all wars, but perhaps especially, and at least originally, those who fought at Gallipoli in World War 1.

One of these Australian soldiers was Francis Cavers (1894-1918). Born at Hobkirk near Hawick in Scotland, son of William McLean Cavers and Margaret Robson Jepps, he was a gardener before he emigrated to Australia. He joined the Australian Imperial Force and served at Gallipoli before being invalided out with dysentery. Patched up in time to serve at the Battle of the Somme he received several injuries there, which again saw him invalided out. He returned to the war in late 1917, and was killed in France on 5th April 1918, aged just 24, leaving a widow Elizabeth and young daughter Mary. His younger brother John Jepps Cavers had died in 1915, on the way to Gallipoli.

Francis Cavers (1894-1918)

Thanks to Derek Robertson of Hawick and the Great War for some of this information, including the photo of Francis’s grave in France which he has just sent me.

Grave of Francis Cavers

New clues to a Cavers family’s brief time in France in the 1830s

Thanks to the British Newspaper Archive‘s online digital editions of old newspapers I just uncovered a useful clue to a Cavers family’s brief time in France, which had puzzled me before. The obituary below is for John Cavers (ca1833-1920) who was born in France, son of John Cavers and Elizabeth Fiddes. For more details of their family tree see my blog post about this family that moved from Ashkirk near Hawick to farm in Berwickshire.

Berwick Advertiser, October 15 1920

Noted Border Farmer Dead – There passed away at Belville last week one of the ablest and most successful farmers of the Merse, in the person of Mr John Cavers. Born 87 years ago in Alsace, where his father was a gardener for a time, he started work at eleven years of age. At various times he acted as hind (at Belville among other things), as miller at Ednam, and as steward at Highridge Hall, Swinton Quarter, Whitsome Langrig, and Broomdykes. His first venture as a farmer was made at Heriot Bank 28 years ago. After five years he came to Belville as farmer, and there he succeeded so well that he and his sons have since been able to take over Heiton Mains, Kelso, Pittlesheugh, and Thorneydykes (since given up). Mr Cavers, whose wife, as sister of the late Mr James Aitken, of Springwells, died ten years ago, had two daughters, Elizabeth, who died within six weeks of her mother, and Mrs Clinkscales, now of Bo’ness; and six sons, one of whom, John, died abroad; a second Andrew lives in Canada, William, farmer of Heiton Mains; Walter, farmer and proprietor of Pittlesheugh; James, lately farmer of Thorneydykes, but now living at Bank House, Greenlaw; and George, who farms Belville. The late Mr Cavers, whose farming was probably unsurpassed in the County, was for some years a member of Whitsome School Board, and for a longer period a trusted manager of Leitholm U.F. Church. The attendance at his funeral on Saturday – one of the largest seen in this neighbourhood – was a tribute to the respect in which he was held.

And as a postscript to this, Jean Le Youdec has since traced the birth record for John Cavers in France. Quoting from Jean on Facebook:

I have discovered a trace of the birth of this John Cavers in Alsace. His birth was registered in the commune of Hayes in the Moselle on 20th October 1833. His parents are given as John Cavers and Elisabeth Sidder – perhaps a mis-spelling of Elizabeth Fiddes?

Goals for my Cavers one-name study in 2018

Looking ahead to the New Year I thought I’d jot down things that I’d like to tackle in this area in the next 12 months.

I’m tempted to work on a new WordPress-based website for my one-name study, as I did for my Coldingham and Melrose one-place studies. But at the moment I’m not sure that’s a good use of my limited energy. Not least because my existing Cavers blog is also acting well as a repository for ideas / sharing.

I’d definitely like to blog more Cavers family lineages, and also stories of interesting people, references to Cavers people in early newspapers etc. That should become easier as more Scottish Borders papers are added to the British Newspaper Archive in digital form online.

The Cavers Y-DNA Project continues, and I’d like to do at least a couple more DNA blog posts. The first will consider the issue of comparing Douglas vs Cavers DNA – not quite as my first impressions suggested, and more complex a story. And I very much want to blog about the potential of autosomal DNA testing for the Cavers one-name study, given my recent successes. I may well widen the DNA study to accept autosomal tests next year.

It would also be nice to blog more provocative articles which raise questions, or throw up suggestions for further research. For example I did a medical blog post in the last year, which led to quite a bit of discussion. It would be good to see more along these lines.

Many ideas anyway. Looking forward to it!

Cavers surname and health conditions

This blog post has been suggested by a few Cavers descendants who have histories of specific health conditions in their particular Cavers families. Usually auto immune diseases, like arthritis, eczema, thyroid problems, ME/CFS etc. In my own family tree, on the line that does trace back to Cavers some generations back, we have various auto immune diseases, such as arthritis, eczema, multiple sclerosis, and my own cerebral vasculitis.

I’m just throwing this out there wondering if any other Cavers lines have particularly strong family histories of any particular medical conditions or types of conditions, that may have a genetic element (in addition to other possible factors, like environmental issues, chance, infection etc.). My one big proviso is that Cavers – for every living descendant – is just one of many ancestral lines. Even for people who have the surname Cavers by descent if you trace back to e.g. your great-grandparents then 7 of the 8 probably aren’t a Cavers by birth, and all 8 great-grandparents’ genes contribute to your medical history.

However, that said, I still think it’s an interesting question, and am throwing it out there. It would also be possible to study the causes of deaths of various historic Cavers, in Scotland and elsewhere, which might throw up any particular patterns. Although I expect that the general trend wouldn’t be too dissimilar from the wider population.

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.

Cavers references in the London workhouse records

Ancestry have recently added a searchable database of London workhouse admission and discharge records between 1738 and 1930. The original paper records are held by the London Metropolitan Archives.

Unsurprisingly, given that there was a London cluster of Cavers in the 19th century, there are Cavers references in there. All concern the same family, which I’ve covered on this blog a number of times before.

For example on 19th March 1869 a large Cavers family was admitted to Cleveland Street Workhouse. This was 48-year-old William Cavers, a gun maker, his wife Sarah aged 39, and their children George Edward (10), Earnest F. (9), Grace (6), Alice (4), Edith (3) and Kate (2). Some of the family were only in the workhouse for a day, but Sarah and her youngest daughters were there for several weeks. And some of the children appear back in the same workhouse a couple of months later. George Edward, Ernest Frederick, Alice and Grace were all admitted on 22nd May, but discharged that same day to their parents.

Decades later the father William Cavers appears again in the workhouse records. By now it was 1902, and he was a 81-year-old man. On 5th March 1902 he was recorded still as a gun implement maker, and admitted to the Westminster Union Workhouse. His nearest relative was noted as his son William. This time he stayed in the workhouse until 11th March, when he was discharged at his own request. But that’s not the end of the story. There’s a record for the workhouse on 18th March, of William being discharged to Colney Hatch Asylum, which in its day was the largest lunatic asylum in Europe.

Intriguingly I’d previously thought that William had died between 1881 and 1891, because his wife Sarah appears in the census of 1891 described as a widow. But I’m now guessing that the marriage had broken down, and they were living apart. He was certainly still alive in 1902, as these records show.

Finding another Cavers, this time a young married woman, in the mental health records

About a week ago I blogged – originally on my own genealogy blog, and then reblogged here on the Cavers blog – about my Cavers ancestor who appears in the Scotland-wide records of patients admitted to asylums. In that original blog post I explained more fully about these records, and what they record, and how to access them. Do check out that original blog post for more details of all of this.

Since then Graham and Emma Maxwell have kindly sent me details of another Cavers reference in these records. This concerns Elizabeth Cavers of the Lilliesleaf family, daughter of Charles Cavers and Martha Cathrae. I’ve blogged here about her brother William (see here) and also her father Charles (see here).

She’s recorded in these mental health records as Betsy Cavers or Turner, having married in 1847 weaver Thomas Turner. She was admitted to Newbigging House asylum at Musselburgh in 1858. She was then 34, living at Dunsdalehaugh at Selkirk, with occupation recorded as “Superintending her family”. Her first attack happened when she was 23, but she didn’t receive treatment then. Her latest attack had been going on for one week, and she was observed among other things to be talking incoherently, and under delusions that her house would be taken from her. Her husband also reported that she had threatened to injure the children and others.

At the moment I don’t know how long Betsy was in this asylum for, or what treatment she received while there. I hadn’t previously found any evidence of children for her, and struggled to find her in various census returns. But this record expands the picture. And it’s prompted me to recheck for children. After 1855 there were Thomas (1855) and Margaret (1859) both born at Selkirk. Thomas’s 1855 birth certificate – the first year of civil registration in Scotland, when extra details were recorded – notes that the couple had 4 boys and 1 girl living then. And I’ve now found the family in 1861. They were still at Dunsdalehaugh at Selkirk, and as well as Thomas and Elizabeth were their children John (13), Charles (11), Martha (9), James (8), Thomas (5) and Margaret (1). I’ve traced Betsy’s husband’s death in 1902, and his second marriage in 1865 to Isabella Dickson. And that’s helped me finally locate Betsy’s death: recorded as Elizabeth Turner, wife of Thomas Turner weaver, and daughter of Charles Cavers and Martha Cathrae, both deceased. Sadly she died in the Millholme House asylum at Musselburgh in 1862. She was just 38, described on her death certificate as a pauper lunatic, and died from general paralysis. How sad.

Betsy Cavers or Turner can now be found in Graham and Emma’s online indexes of Scottish mental health records, which will grow over time to cover more and more years, and I expect will throw up more Cavers references for me to follow up and blog about.

Finding an ancestor in the mental health records

Reblogging the story of my g..uncle William Cavers, as revealed by mental health records.

Viv's Ancestry Blog

Graham and Emma Maxwell have started looking at mental health records of Scots admitted to various asylums (National Records of Scotland records MC2 and MC7), with a view to indexing these by name of patient, thus opening them up more to family history researchers. They knew of my Cavers one-name study, so when they stumbled across a Cavers reference they kindly sent me the images. And it turns out to be a relative of mine.

William Cavers (1798-1873) was my distant g..uncle, son of Francis Cavers and Euphemia Hogg, and younger brother of my 4xg-grandfather Thomas Cavers. Like most of the men in his immediate family William worked as a shepherd, moving about various parts of the Borders and other parts of southern Scotland. By 1859 he was at Ancrum, living with his wife Mary and some of their children.

At this time, before Dingleton Hospital opened at Melrose…

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