In the year 1800 in the
Haitian refugee Claire CAVAYÉ was 17
and Scots-born trader William CATHCART was 25.
-We are their descendants in a CAVAYE FAMILY that reaches round the world
2009 CAVAYE PARTY
Descendants of Andrew Cavaye
(The 1964 Party, forty-five years on)
(talk to Portobello Historical Society, May 2009) : Printable version here
Andrew Cavaye and Christina Hepburn Grieve
remarks by their eldest grandchild, Dorothy
we are, all of us Cavayes - descendants of, or married onto
descendants of, Andrew Cavaye and Christina Hepburn
Grieve. These two were married on his
At the time he married Chrissie Grieve, Andrew Cavaye was a fine handsome young man. Though not very tall in stature, he was dark with a well-groomed moustache and known for being impeccably dressed. His rise to this status in his life is truly remarkable.
He was born in Northfield Cottage in 1872 the ninth child of Robert McClelland Cavaye and Margaret Boyd Within two years of Andrew’s arrival the last child of the family was born, a girl, Louisa, but within eighteen months she had sickened and died, so Andrew was left as the youngest of a big family. This was a low point both financially and emotionally in the Cavaye family’s fortunes. In the words handed down to me, Robert McClelland Cavaye, the father, had not done a stroke of work since his nursery garden apprentice days in the early 1830’s, but lived on a very small annuity from his railway shares. In the early ‘70’s things were to deteriorate further until, when Andrew was nearly four, his father committed suicide cutting his throat with a razor . Eventually Dr. Balfour, senior, who had been rushed up from Portobello, pronounced him dead after six days from loss of blood Whether our grandfather remembered any of this or not, it could not have been a very good start to his life. General Cavaye, his Uncle, came down of course from Royal Circus. His carriage waited outside while all the business and legal pleas were drawn up to make Mrs. Cavaye more secure and the two Northfield Cottages bought and knocked together to give the big family a stable home. Mrs. Cavaye, Andrew’s widowed mother, was a very competent woman. She took in dressmaking and was even capable of joinery and laying a floor. Her standards were high and the General would come down regularly to keep an eye on things. If you have any skills in you hands, you must inherit them from her, I can assure you. My Auntie Maysie had none, I have none. Auntie Peggy had a lot as did Ronnie.
God for the Education Act of 1872.
Andrew Cavaye went to
during his days in Miller’s foundry and going on until he was fully established,
Andrew Cavaye walked down Fishwives’ Causeway to evening classes in
about Chrissie Grieve at this stage? She
was two years younger than Andrew. The
Grieve family had lived in various colony type houses in the Restalrig area of
year after they were married they had twins a boy and a girl, who sadly
survived only a few days. A year later
their eldest child Bertie was born, my father. From there we go on to ten more boys and four
girls. The girl just before Peggy died too,
so that left a big family of eleven, with Ronnie, born in 1919, as the
youngest. She was a lovely smiling
woman, Chrissie, always laughing, always generous Andrew had a fiery temper and a short
fuse. I have
kept to his own gentlemanly interests and didn’t have much time for
conversation with women. He liked his
clubs and his sports, his bowls and his golf, his cars and the convivial
company of men. Women mostly stayed at
home, men went out to the club or the pub in the evenings. Grannie often
sneaked a visit to the cinema sometimes with Ronnie, while Grandpa was
out. When I was born, he said to my
mother, “You’re an awful family for girls.” She didn’t much like him for that. Both Winkie and Ian
especially, thought he was a bit unfeeling, when he saw them off to
prospered every year becoming well-known in
time he was away, trouble began brewing with the Inland Revenue and in 1925 he
had to pay back £8000 plus a £2000 fine.
This led to his having a heart attack in the office in Storries Alley.
Early in 1930, my father recalls, there was a problem with some
contaminated casks, a hundred hogsheads to Bertram of Quality Street.
Bertie had to take over the firm he had inherited at a terrible time. The great depression was just starting and the cooperage was hardly ticking over. The bottom had fallen out of the whisky market. Production was halted. Three year old whiskies were being offered at the filling price. Grannie had to be life rented and the money £1800 Andrew had left was to be divided between the eleven children. He was advised to declare himself bankrupt. He got no helpful advice from the family lawyer, John Loudon of J and A. Hastie, who suggested that if he was not able to repay the £3000 of borrowed capital he would have to sign a trust deed. This he couldn’t bear to do. Why should he be the only one of a family of eleven to suffer from the sudden decline of the business from which the whole family fortune had stemmed. In his own words in the lawyer’s office, “You are forcing my back to the wall. Something must be done.”
He sent out
enquiry letters to the Belgian, French and Swedish consuls for names of glass
and tumbler manufacturers in their respective countries. Subsequently, filling a suitcase with
tumblers, he tramped round the pubs of
We are now at the end of the life and sad early death at the age of 57 of Andrew Cavaye . Both he and his wife had got too fat in their middle age. Like many of us, being hard up and kept on small rations when they were young they were naturally happy to be able to afford the good things of life when they were more affluent. It didn’t do their health any good. As with us also.
What can I
add now about Christina Grieve, our grandmother? I loved her, whereas I had been very afraid
of Grandpa Cavaye. Ronnie was probably
the only one who wasn’t, so he said.
With that enormous family, she had to be relaxed and yet she couldn’t
have been laid back, for the household was always well organised, rooms were
always tidy and meals on time. It was a
well disciplined family and it can’t have been only Grandpa who asserted
himself. She was a very generous woman
not just to her children and grandchildren but, when she could afford it, (and
remember she never was hard-up during the depression) to any poor people in
talk about the particular child of Andrew and Chrissie who was their ancestor.
I’ll say something quickly about mine, Bertie, the
oldest. I absolutely adored my father.
He took up his position as the eldest of the family with all its aspirations
and responsibilities. He was one of the
first Scouts and became a King Scout as did both Doug and Winkie
after him. He trained as an officer in
the university OTC, eventually joining the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders. He told me a lot about the War. He spent most of his war time with the Seaforths in the
I have always taken him as my model for ethical behaviour and integrity. He believed in hard work. I also thought him a very logical thinker. I think I got my love of politics and argument from him. He got the OBE after all for his services to politics.
Robin Cavaye added his own memory of Grannie: with Bill and Dorothy he had performed Snow White for her when she was ill. It was all the rage at the time. He vividly remembered being rewarded with apples kept, strangely, in her wardrobe, and the smell of mothballs when the door was opened.
Andrew Bell remembered each
of Andrew and Chrissie Cavaye’s children in turn: Bertie, Louie, Doug, Melville, Peggy, Winkie,
Maysie, Ian, Noel,
David Cavaye spoke of his
grandfather Melville: his travels with the Currie Line, his wartime heroism in
Portobello walk by Roger
Andrew Cavaye attended evening classes here in French and shorthand,
walking here after his working day as a junior clerk at Millers Foundry, Abbeyhill
After his childhood education at Willowbrae school (here he is below)
Round the corner we saw Portobello Station,
With the tennis club behind where Maysie made the teas and Dorothy helped.
Under the skew arch into Brighton Place and up the Christian Path to the back of Craig Royston
The old approach to the station from Brighton Place was also the start of the Christian Path
Named after Portobello’s Provost Christian, who campaigned for it long and hard, the path was
a shortcut to Portobello Station for
residents from St Mark’s Place,
With entrances to the path from
of Craig Royston were the scene of memorable family photographs of 90, 80 and 70 years ago
Chrissie and Andrew with their children Winks (back) Maysie (front), Ian,
Their daughter Louie and Aunt Ann (one of Chrissie’s younger sisters) about 1919.
Dorothy, Maysie and Peggy in June 1934 for Maysie’s wedding.
Grannie and grandchildren about 1936.
The corner of
The corner of
The Clydesdale Bank where the reunion walkers sheltered from the downpour was Andrew Cavaye’s bank:
The walkers then turned down
(Opposite, on the right, fifty years ago stood Portobello’s first tiny self-service supermarket, Monsvolls.)
Grannie met Mary Forrest of Keith, Melville’s-bride-to-be and where
the couple were married in December 1929.
Peggy’s marriage to Charlie Cruttenden at Regent Street Church
Maysie’s marriage to Monty Bell
Bertie (who gave the bride away) back left with son Bill, Grannie back right.
Portobello Pier in 1911. Andrew Cavaye swam from the pier every day with
whichever of his sons he could coerce to join him. The structure had been designed by
Thomas Bouch . It was removed during the First WarCavaye children performed
as pierrots in the Town Hall in 1920 (as their adult equivalents had done here earlier).
On the front, the elaborate red sandstone block of Marlborough Mansions has been demolished.
The Cavayes came to
soon after the Baths were opened. Andrew Cavaye was a member of the
swimming club. Year by year he contrived to move ever closer to the beach by
renting different houses as the family grew. We walk past the houses in reverse order.
The Cavaye’s last house in
number 32 and was probably where these pictures were taken of
Grannie, Louie, Peggie, Maysie, Douglas and Melville.
This was the Cavaye’s third house in
only two doors from the Baths, it was rented from Captain Turner of the
Merchant Navy around 1910. Captain Turner’s henhouse (which he’d
had on one of his ships) went with the Cavayes from this point on.
The Cavaye’s second abode in
near the church -the children thought it a “dull old house”
The flat at Number
St Mark’s Church at the
St Marks church where Bertie and Doug were choristers
William Baird, Portobello’s Clydesdale Bank manager and friend of Andrew Cavaye,
lived in Pitt Street opposite the daisy park. See an extract of the Annals here.
Devon House, 2 Pitt Street, where Bertie moved after the second war.
Roger and Dorothy outside
Family gathering at the Devon House doorway in Pitt Street
Dr Dewar attended Chrissie at Noel’s birth not long before the tragedy. She suffered
sudden and serious post-natal complications as Andrew carved the Christmas dinner.
This is not one of the 200
most visited KOSMOID & MAKERS webpages