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Parish of Cavers

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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1791-99: Cavers
1791-99: Kirktown
1834-45: Cavers
1834-45: Kirktown

Cavers, a Teviotdale parish of Roxburghshire, containing, in its northern division, the village of Denholm, 5 miles NE of Hawick, and, in its southern division, Shankend station, 7 miles SSE of Hawick. Very irregular in shape, being cut in two by Kirkton parish except for a narrow connecting link to the E, it is bounded NW by Wilton and Minto, E by Bedrule and Hobkirk, S by Castleton, and W by Teviothead, Kirkton, and Hawick. It has an extreme length from NNE to SSW of 13½ miles, a width of from 70 yards to 4 miles, and an area of 18,352¾ acres, of which 88¾ are water. The Teviot, for 5¾ miles, roughly traces all the boundary with Wilton and Minto; and Rule Water winds 2 miles northward to it along the Bedrule border; whilst others of its affluents here are the Honey and Dean Burns in the northern, and Slitrig Water in the southern, division of the parish. The surface sinks to less than 300 feet above sea-level in the furthest N, thence rising south-westward to 558 feet near Caversmains, 718 at Caversknowes, 675 at Orchard, 901 at Whitacres Hill, and 988 at White Hill-south-south-westward to 1392 at ' dark Ruberslaw,' 946 at Hogfield Hill, 1053 at Peat Law, 1034 at Berryfell, 1253 at Burnt Craig, 1216 at Shankend Hill, 1516 at the Pike, 1677 at Maiden Paps, and 1964 at Greatmoor Hill, which, forming part of the Teviotdale and Liddesdale 'divide,' culminates just within Castleton. The rocks are variously eruptive, Silurian, and Devonian; and the soils range from very fertile loam to sterile moor. Dr Chalmers was assistant minister from 1801 to 1803; but the name most closely associated with Cavers is that of the scholar-poet, John Leyden (1775-1811). The low-thatched cottage at Denholm in which he was born is still occupied; but Henlawshiel, at the base of Ruberslaw, whither his father removed in 1776, has been long demolished. Antiquities are four or five prehistoric hill-forts, remains near Ormiston of Cocklaw Castle, and, in the southern division, about 3 miles of the Catrail; whilst a crag towards the summit of Ruberslaw is pointed out as ' Peden's Pulpit.' Cavers House, a little SE of the parish church, on the site of a castle inhabited by the Baliols in the 12th and 13th centuries, is a large rectangular pile, baronial in aspect, with walls of great thickness and small old-fashioned windows. Its oldest portion, a square tower, was built by Sir Archibald Douglas, younger son of that valiant Earl of Douglas who conquered and fell at Otterburn (1388), and whose banner is here preserved along with the trophy won from Harry Hotspur. Sir Archibald's descendants were hereditary Sheriffs of Teviotdale, and also sometimes Wardens of the Marches, down to 1745; with the twentieth of them, Jas. Douglas, Esq. of Cavers (1822-78), the male line became extinct. There upon the estate-9840 acres, valued at £7937 per annum-passed to his niece, Miss Mary Malcolm, who in 1879 married Capt. Edward Palmer. Other mansions are Orchard, Ormiston House, and Stobs Castle, which stand respectively 2¾ miles E by N, 2½ E by S, and 4½ S, of Hawick; and 4 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 7 of between £100 and £500,1 of from £50 to £100, and 8 of from £20 to £50. Cavers is in the presbytery of Jedburgh and synod of Merse and Teviotdale; the living is worth £397. The old parish church, ¼ mile NNE of Cavers House, is a long plain building, with traces of Norman and First Pointed work; young Leyden made it his week-day study, and played in it some most unholy pranks. A little to the westward, and 2½ miles ENE of Hawick, is the present church, erected in 1822, and containing 500 sittings. Denholm has also a Free church (364 sittings); and under the Cavers and Kirkton school-board, three public schools-Cogsmill, Denholm, and Kirkton-with respective accommodation for 125, 201, and 125 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 50,149, and 74, and grants of £48,19s., £101,16s., and £72,3s. Valuation (1880) £16,149, 2s. 1d., including £2296 for the railway. Pop. (1801) 1382, (1831) 1625, (1861) 1824, (1871) 1443, (1881) 1318; of registration district (1881) 842.—Ord. Sur., sh. 17,1864. See the Memoir by Thomas Brown, prefixed to the centenary edition of Leyden's Scenes of Infancy and other -Poems (Edinb. 1875).

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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