My first sight of Wilton Old Church in Hawick

For much of my childhood I lived in the Wilton side of Hawick, near where my ancestors had lived for generations. I didn’t realise, though, that on my way to and from Wilton Primary School I was crossing the site of the Wilton Old Church and graveyard, which was cleared almost completely in the 1950s. Generations of my Hall and Cavers ancestors would have been buried there, and when the site was cleared there were still legible gravestones for some of the very earliest known Cavers ancestors. In addition some Usher relatives were buried in part of the crypt.

I’ve just, thanks to the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland website, had my first glimpse of what Wilton Old Church and graveyard looked like before the site was cleared. It’s eerie, a glimpse into the past.

Wilton Old Church and graveyard

Looking at the picture it looks as though it is looking east across the site, with Princes Street to the left, and the path to the newsagent’s I used to walk along a lot in the distance, beyond the church, to the right.

About vivdunstan

Academic historian, genealogist, former computer scientist, and Doctor Who fan.
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17 Responses to My first sight of Wilton Old Church in Hawick

  1. vivdunstan says:

    Reblogged this on Cavers One-Name Study Blog and commented:

    Just posted this to my general-purpose ancestry blog, but it’s a place where Cavers people (including my own ancestors) were buried too, so of interest to Cavers researchers as well.

  2. Jim Richmond says:

    Thanks Viv, for posting the image of the old Wilton Church. If I can believe my family lore, I had a third great grandfather, John Clark, who was born in about 1779 in the area in or around Wilton. Apparently it was a community near Hawick??

  3. Fascinating photo and story. Have those graves been recorded on your blog? Many thanks from Suzanne Cavers,whose ancestor Charles Cavers born 1827 in Scotland, and who immigrated to Middlesex On CA 1834 with his parents James Cavers and Margaret Biggar. James is s/o Thomas Cavers and Janet Scott. She was born in Hawick, Roxburghshire 1759.
    The children of Charles and wife Eliza Richardson, his 2nd family inCanada, were Verner James, Charles Walker, Jessie Rache, and John Thompson.
    SEE 1 family of Marilyn Whatley and
    2 famiy of Suzanne Cavers ancestry .ca

  4. Hi what a good photo of the old churchyard..i have taken an interest in. It and feel it’s wrong that all the poor soulswho were laid to test there. AHave no memorial plague…any anthing to remember them by….so sad are there any details on who used to be biuried there….what happend to the graves…the council should have errected since they cleared the sad.

  5. John Tierney says:

    Vivienne, very enjoyable blog, and informative. Great for an archaeologists like myself see how a genealogist wrks.

    You mention Usher in one post (is it above?) and this is the only Usher i have come across in our historic graves work in Ireland.

    • vivdunstan says:

      Thanks John. And thanks for the Usher refs. There were certainly Ushers in Ireland – not least Archbishop Ussher of renown. But I’m just tracing a Scottish bunch, from the Scottish Borders, so there probably isn’t a connection. It’s one of these surnames that could spring up in different places independently.

  6. Thanks for this Blog, might anyone know what they did with all the headstones that were cleared? Many of my ancestors were laid to rest here and it would be nice to know. Thanks

    • vivdunstan says:

      Apart from a tiny number of stones that were left standing against the west wall I don’t know what happened to the stones, but I’m going to ask via Project Hawick, which is collecting the history of the town and its places, in case anyone there knows.

  7. Marjorie Gavin says:

    Have just come across your blog and although we were in touch several years ago re my Turnbull connection, I didn’t realise that you grew up in Wilton. I lived in Dickson Street as a young child in the early 1950s but have few memories as we moved to a new house in Burnfoot when I was 4 years old. However my Grieve family lived there for many years previously and that is where my Mum grew up. It is a great pity about old Wilton churchyard as that is where some of my distant direct ancestors are buried but no record remains unfortunately. As an aside, while looking for a picture of Old Wilton Church, I came across one of Dickson Street which brought back some memories. Looking forward to following your blog.

  8. Ken Turnbull says:

    I was born in Dickson Street in 1941 and used to play in the old graveyard, which was opposite Wilton Primary School.

  9. John Macvean says:

    Hi Viv, I know your post is years old now but thanks so much for sharing. It is 2021 now and I just discovered that my 4x Great Grandparent’s marriage banns were proclaimed in this church in 1804. Can’t confirm if they were married there or at the Auld Kirk in Cavers but it is one or the other. My 4x GGrandfather was the Blacksmith at Cauldmill just round the corner from the Auld Kirk and their daughter, my 3x GGrandmother was christened there in 1809. Your post and the pictures you shared just give my family history such life. We are in lockdown at the moment in NSW but when it is over and we can travel O/S again, we are definitely stopping into Wilton. Cheers John.

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