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.

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Cavers apprentices in Scotland, 1762-1800

I’ve recently been studying the new database of apprentice indenture duties available on Ancestry.co.uk. This is based on records held in The National Archives at Kew in Surrey, and includes the names of many masters, apprentices and details of the trades they were pursuing, across the UK, between 1710 and 1811. By studying the original document images I’ve already extracted the details of apprentices in Melrose parish in Roxburghshire, 201 pairs of master-apprentice names between 1734 and 1804, and I will be doing a similar extraction for Coldingham parish in Berwickshire, my other one-place study.

However it’s also possible to search for apprentices or masters with the surname Cavers. There are very few, just three.

The earliest recorded is Robert Cavers at Lauder in Berwickshire in 1762, who was apprenticed to shoemaker Robert Romanus. This may be Robert Cavers who married Mary Tweedup at Lauder in 1784 and had descendants. There was certainly a Cavers cluster at Lauder around then, though I don’t know where they came from originally.

Then in 1793 there was a payment for James Cavers who was apprenticed to John Lydon junior taylor at Denholm, in Cavers parish. It’s difficult to be sure about this, but from the date, and the likely age at which he would have been apprenticed it’s possible that this was the son christened in 1780 at Cavers parish to father Robert Cavers. If so that would match up with James Cavers (1780-1866) husband of Margaret Blackburn who emigrated to Ormstown in Quebec, was a farmer there, and had many descendants.

I’m most confident about the third Cavers apprentice. This was Charles Cavers whose apprenticeship dues to Adam Hart weaver in Lockieshedge in Wilton parish were paid in 1800. This has to be Charles Cavers (ca1784-1864) son of Thomas Cavers and Janet Scott who had other children christened in the Wilton/Hawick area. Charles was known to be a weaver, and also a soldier, married at Wilton in 1805, and later settled in Lilliesleaf.

I had hoped to find a reference in the records to William Cavers the gunsmith in London, which might have helped me identify his origins more. It’s possible he was apprenticed, but his name could have been misrecorded or mistranscribed. As it is there are only these three Cavers apprentices that I can confidently identify as part of the one-name study.

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.

An 1841 will and a case of disinheritance

I’ve just been studying the will of William Cavers gunsmith in London. It’s hard to read, at least compared to Scottish wills I’m more used to. Even Scottish wills from the 16th century are easier to read than this English document!

 

Snippet of will of William Cavers

As a result I’ve given up trying to decipher the whole thing. Instead I’ve been glancing through it, looking for clues.

William left his household effects, after his wife Sarah died, to his four daughters, unnamed, but presumably Caroline, Jane, Sarah Maria, and Ann. His tools and implements were left to his son William, along with the management of the family business, with the advice that William was “to be diligent to rise early” and to look after the business “as much as lies in his power”. By contrast the eldest son Charles was disinherited, who due to his

immoral and dissipated habits alienated himself from his family thereby forfeiting that claim he would have had naturally had he been a dutifull son. I reluctantly exclude him Charles Cavers from the benefits he would otherwise participate in at the same time should he choose to assist in the business I recommend that he be well remunerated

How sad, given that the last blog post recounted a happier time for the family, an outing to the fair in 1828 to see the animals, albeit one where father William, with his young son Charles and probably little William too, was pickpocketed.

I’ve just spotted another useful clue in the will though. As well as young William and son-in-law Charles Darling, the will also appointed as executor “my nephew Mr James Rivett of Stratford and West Ham in the County of Essex Builder”. That name Rivett has popped up before, with a marriage in 1812 in London between John Rivett and Ann Cavers. So this will suggests that Ann was William’s sister. A valuable clue. I need to look into the Rivett family more next.

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.

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.