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.

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A mysterious Cavers court case in 1783 Selkirk

Graham Maxwell kindly sent me images of a Cavers reference he spotted in the Sheriff Court Decrees for Selkirk Sheriff Court (National Records of Scotland, SC63/6/9, page 175). The case was brought by Andrew Cairns in Burnfoot against Betty Cavers in Langtownsheel. Betty had been hired to be his servant, to be paid one pound ten shillings sterling in wages, as well as a pair of shoes and a coat. But when she was due to start service “she fell into distress”. Although she recovered she refused to work as his servant. The case report goes on at great length, but as far as I can tell the short version of the story is that the court found in Betty’s favour, and ordered Andrew Cairns to pay her expenses.

I honestly have no idea who Betty was! Firstly I’m not entirely sure where the places are. Burnfoot could be the place of that name in Hawick, but because the case was brought before the Selkirk Sheriff Court I think it’s more likely to be a place in Selkirkshire, possibly even in Selkirk itself, and likewise Langtownsheel.

Even if I look at my Cavers events database it’s hard to find likely candidate entries for Betty. For example there was a Betty Cavers christened at Hawick in 1764, and another Betty christened at Cavers in 1769. Either could be this person, especially the older one. But she could equally be someone else entirely. The parish registers do not record all births, and sometimes there are big gaps, or registers didn’t start early enough. Even looking for other variants of Betty like Elizabeth doesn’t throw up very likely candidates.

There were probably Cavers people in Selkirk at this time though. There certainly were in earlier centuries, per various Selkirk burgh court cases. And the 1841 census has quite a few elderly Cavers ladies in Selkirkshire e.g. Betty (81) and Jean (78) in Yarrow; and Isble (80), Margaret (80) and Eliza (73) in Selkirk. Could any of these be connected to the court case Betty, perhaps even Betty or Eliza?

So it’s currently a mystery. But perhaps more records will come to light in future to clarify things.

Retiral of a tourism coachman

This concerns George Cavers (1831-1900) of the John Cavers and Elizabeth Hislop line. He died six months later, of chronic bronchitis. The tourism routes he operated on are in Dumfriesshire and Selkirkshire.

Edinburgh Evening News, 1900 April 11
George Cavers, the well-known four-in-hand “whip,” who for nearly half-a-century has driven tourists on the Moffat and St Mary’s Loch routes, has laid down the reins in this capacity, and retired from the road.

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.

A Cavers girl winning prizes at school in 1874

Again in the Southern Reporter back issues I found this reference. It’s from the 1874 August 6 edition, and is a prize list for Selkirk Grammar School. Elizabeth Cavers won two prizes: Recitation for Class IV, and the second prize for Writing in Class IV.

I’ve looked to see who she might be, and think she was probably the 1862-born daughter of William Cavers shoemaker at Lilliesleaf who I blogged about the other day. By the time of the 1881 census Elizabeth and her father and brother were living in Selkirk. She was recorded as her father’s housekeeper, aged 18. A decade earlier she was recorded in Edinburgh, as 8-year-old Lizzie Cavers, in the home of her older sister Margaret, Mrs Wood. Perhaps Lizzie moved back to live with her widowed father a few years later, and attended the local school in Selkirk for a while? There are no other likely candidates for Elizabeth Cavers in the prize list, so I’m fairly confident the identification is right. For more information about Elizabeth’s life see the Cavers family web page created by her relative.

New Zealand Cavers soldiers in World War One

I previously blogged about known Cavers soldiers in World War One, covering soldiers in the UK, Canada, and Australia. I’ve now learned of a new resource for New Zealanders, who often enlisted in other countries. The Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database, is gathering information on known New Zealand WW1 soldiers.

Searching the database there are currently two Cavers entries in there, and it looks like two brothers from Galashiels, Selkirkshire: Francis Cavers (b. 1891), and David Hunter Cavers (b. 1897), sons of David Cavers the policeman who I blogged about the other day.

Both when they enlisted gave their next of kin as their father David Cavers, of Hauturu, New Zealand. Both were farmers, and both joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, specifically the Mounted Rifles division. Both sailed from Wellington, New Zealand to Egypt: Francis in 1916, David in 1917. I don’t know what happened to them after that.

I wonder if there are more New Zealand World War One soldiers to be uncovered. And I wonder if their service records may yet be digitised, as Canada and the UK have done.

More details about Francis Cavers who died after being assaulted in 1874

Previously I blogged about the death of Francis Cavers, after being assaulted. I’ve just found another newspaper report which gives more details, particularly of his life and character:

Southern Reporter, 1874 May 28

FATAL RESULT OF PERSONAL INJURIES

Mr Francis Cavers, a native of Tweedside, and for many years gardener at Ashiestiel, and latterly jobbing gardener at Galashiels, and who also acted as sexton at Ladhope, has died from the effects of injuries received in the neighbourhood of Hawick. He was set upon one evening by a party (now in custody) on the way from Hawick to Wilton Dean, and so brutally maltreated that he died on Saturday last. He was interred yesterday. He was a quiet, industrious man, very peaceable and obliging in disposition; and much regret is felt for his widow and family.

Francis has descendants living today. I descend from his younger sister Margaret, Mrs Hall, who lived not far from Francis when he died. Both were great-grandchildren of James Cavers and Isabella Coltherd.