While browsing through the Scottish birth, marriage and death certificates again I looked at the 1861 marriage of “Isabella Scott or Cavers”, a 21-year old mender in a wool hosiery factory, living at 4 Fore Row, Hawick, daughter of Barbara Moyes maiden name Scott. Isabella married wool sorter William Spalding, also aged 21, of Wilton Place, Hawick. Very sadly Isabella died just over a week after her wedding. Her death certificate names just her mother again, no father noted. Who was he?
My working presumption is that he was a Cavers man, hence the two surnames that unmarried Isabella used when she married. Looking in the census finds her mother Barbara (who died in 1869 aged 51) was born at Selkirk. And a bit more digging finds mother and daughter together in the 1841 Selkirk census, living at Edinburgh Road, Selkirk, in the large household of Alexander and Jane Scott. Sadly the 1841 Scottish census doesn’t record relationships, but from their ages (44 and 40) this couple are likely to have been Barbara’s parents, with others in the house her younger siblings. Alexander was a stocking maker and Barbara a woollen factory worker. Barbara’s daughter was recorded as “Isabel Cavers” in this census, aged 1, born Selkirkshire.
Barbara Scott next appears in the 1851 census, by now wife of James Moise, stocking weaver and keeping of a lodging house, and living at Back Row, Selkirk with their children and some members of her Scott family. No sign of Isabel Cavers. By 1861 the “Moyse” family appear in Hawick, living at Mill Port, Hawick, James a wool framework knitter. In both 1851 and 1861 census returns Barbara is noted as born Selkirk. Again no sign of Isabel or Isabella Cavers living with her.
And then it gets very strange! Because the only possible glimpse of Isabella Cavers in the 1861 census is the 21-year-old “Isobella Cavers”, wool hosiery warehouse girl, living with her granny Helen Scott or Cavers at Roadhead, Hawick. Helen Scott was the widow of Thomas Cavers, and my gggg-granny! I’ve never known who this granddaughter Isobella was. She’s born in Selkirk per this census. Might she be Barbara Scott/Moyes’ daughter, and the illegitimate child of one of the sons of Helen Scott/Cavers? There’s also a mysterious 10-year-old Isabella Cavers living with the same Helen Scott/Cavers at Burnfoot, Wilton in 1851. Supposedly born Selkirkshire, and Helen’s daughter, but could that again be a granddaughter really born in Selkirk?
Helen Scott had 5 Cavers sons: Francis, James, John, Thomas and William. Francis Cavers was probably the most likely of these sons to have been Isabella’s father, close in age to Barbara, and I know that he gardened for a time in Selkirkshire. A paternity case might prove it, whether in the courts or the kirk session minutes. But for now I have one final clue. Guess who shows up as a witness at Isabella’s 1861 marriage per the certificate. Francis Cavers, almost certainly this same man. So I think this mystery is now pretty much solved, barring final 100% confirmation. And to think when I first looked at Isabella’s marriage certificate earlier I had absolutely no idea who she was …