The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

A Sept is a family name which can be related to a clan or a larger family for various reasons - either by marriage or seeking protection from a larger or a more powerful clan or family. Many recorded Sept names have since become clans in their own right and many may be related to more than one clan.

The following is one list of possible Douglas septs.  The eagle-eyed will have noticed that it differs from the list in the History section of The Douglas Archives!

Agnew, Blacklock, Blackstock, Blakwood, Blalock, Brown,        
Brownlee, Cavan, Cavers, Dickey, Drysdale, Forest, Forrester,
Foster, Gilpatrick, Glendinning, Glenn, Inglis, Kilgore,
Kilpatrick, Kirkland, Kirkpatrick, Lockerby, Lockery,
MacGuffey,MacGuffock, McKittrick, Morton, Sandilands,
Sandlin, Soule, Sterrett, Symington, Troup, Young

Which list is correct?  This Forum is where this can be discussed.

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As you will have noticed, I do not include Cavan/Caven/Cavin in my list of Douglas septs.


This is not because I think that they are not a sept, but because I have no knowledge of their connection.


Jamie Cavin wrote the following in an discussion three years ago:

I have gone through all the Peerage and Baronage books I can find. There are five which are considered the most accurate. They list five different origins of the name. Kingship of O'Caubauin, (Ireland); Kingship of Keevan, (Ireland); from Kavanuagh, (Ireland); Northern France, meaning "the cave dweller;" and as a Sept of Clan Douglass from Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland. 
I found the earlist listings for land grants to Cavan's in Kirkcudbright. The oldest being eighty acres given to a Archibald Cavan in the 1480's.
I am trying to find a Franciscan Monk, living in the state New York, who's last name is Cavin. He claims that several Cavin's went to France in the 1220's, with about 300 other Scotsman, as an aliegence between the Kings, against England. I know the Scotish king did send about 350 warriors to France in 1221, (I think that's the correct year).
There are alot of Cavan/Caven/Cavin in Southeast Ireland. This area is very close to Southwest Scotland, Kirkcudbrightshire.
I do know the name has nothing to do with Co. Cavan, Ireland. My Father and I went there 4 years ago. Dating back to 1820, no one by the name of Cavan has ever lived/ died/married there. The word Cavan is the anglosized version of a gaelic word meaning "the hollow." The township was established in a very round valley, or hollow.
If anyone knows the "real" origin of the name, let us all know.



The earliest reference to Cavens is a John de Cavens who is stated to have had the lands of Kevands in the parish of Sorby, in Wigtonshire bestowed on him by Archibald, Earl of Douglas in 1421.

I don't know the early history of the Cavens estate, in Kirkbean, Kirkcudbrightshire, but it was acquired by Richard Oswald, a tobacco baron, in about 1773.  It remained in the family til the 1950s.


I hope this will help the discussion regarding Cavan/Caven/Cavin.  This information is from my recent research into the septs of Douglas for CDSNA.  I have information on several of the other names considered septs and information about other surnames that could/should be considered septs.


Listed in the 2009 CDSNA bylaws.  Cavan was accepted by CDSNA as a sept in December 1988 based on its being noted as a sept in the 1954 publication Badges of the Scottish Clans.  This sept name has a strong connection with Agnew above. 


The research for this sept name was taken from a single source: Kevans DNA project (hosted by @ The editor of this article did such a wonderful job of documenting that no effort is given to re-invent his/her wheel.  Some of this will be seen to be a repeat of the text for Agnew.


"The surname Kevan is native to Galloway and thought to be derived “from the land of Cavens in the parish of Kirkbean, Kirkcudbrightshire. (George F. Black, The Surnames of Scotland: their Origin, Meaning & History, p. 143; John E. Wilson, Gazeteer of Scotland, p. 84] Cavens, which, lies a few hundred yards south of the village of Kirkbean, with land running South and Eastward down to the banks of the Nith estuary, and was once part of the Earldom of Morton, was associated with the Maxwell family as early as the 15th century. (See the Maxwell Society website)


JAMES MAXWELL, the third son of John Maxwell, Master of Maxwell, who was killed at the battle of Lochmaben, 1484 (see title Nithsdale), is said to have been the ancestor of the Maxwells of Cavens.1 Who his immediate successors were has not been ascertained, but the next possessor of the estate on record is


Herbert Maxwell, of Cavens, who died 24 March 1572-73, leaving two sons:

1. William.

2. John, who, with his son Joke, is named in Herbert's will as his “oyes”

(James Balfour Paul, The Scots Peerage, p. 126; P. H. M’Kerlie, History of the lands & their owners in Galloway p. 162)


Cavens came into Maxwell possession when John Maxwell, 7th Lord Maxwell and grandson of the third Earl, briefly claimed the Earldom after the 4th Earl was executed for involvement in the murder of Lord Darnley, and [b]y 1589, Cavens [wa]s in the hands of Herbert Maxwell of Cavens who was tried for the murder of Sir Robert Maxwell of Dinwiddie in 1605. John Maxwell, Bishop of Ross was a scion of Cavens Maxwells as were the Maxwells of Kirkhouse. The Cavens Maxwells died out in 1640 and the cadet line of Maxwell of Kirkhouse inherited. James Maxwell, Earl of Dirleton was the last of that line and the property then appears to have been inherited by members of the Murrey family, Earls of Annandale. An eighteenth century house possibly a house built for William Maxwell of Preston is the main caput, is now the Cavens Country House Hotel. (from the Maxwell Society)


M. Kerlie’s History mentions a William Maxwell, son of William Maxwell of Cavens, parish of Kirkbean, who had retour of the farm of Gate side on the 15th April 1617 [ p. 18]


The earliest example found thus far of Cavens used as a surname dates to the late 14th or early 15th century. Gilbert de Cavens, who died in 1420 and for a brief time was Bishop Elect of Galloway, held a Bachelors degree in Canon Law by 1406 and was a long-time servant and cleric for the Douglas family, acting as “chaplain and familiar” of Margaret Stewart, Countess of Douglas in 1406 and tutor for her eldest son Archibald Douglas.


The name Kevans or Kavands is also found as a place name in Wigtownshire from at least the 15th century:


The first lands obtained in the parish of Sorby by the Agnews of Lochnaw were the farms which had been given for the support of the church at Cruggleton, and called the church lands; viz., Baltier, Cults, and Kevands. The grant was subsequent to the Reformation, and by charter in January 1581 by King James VI. Kevands is stated to have been bestowed in 1421 by Archibald, Earl of Douglas, to a John de Cavens, [PH M'Kerlie, History of the lands & their owners in Galloway p. 350]


A later addendum by M’Kerlie, however, argues that Balter, Cults, and Kevands could not have been accepted by William Douglas of Leswalt as an equivalent for Lochnaw when he gave up the castle, etc.[because] “they had [already] been appropriated or set apart for the support of the Church of Cruggleton.” [Furthermore] search has recently been made in vain for any charter under the Great Seal in confirmation of such a grant to William Douglas. There were two charters granted by Margaret, Countess of Douglas, and confirmed by King James I., but they did not refer to any portion of the Cruggleton property. [M’Kerlie, p. 338]


Sir Andrew Agnew, however, in The Agnews of Lochnaw: a history of the hereditary sheriffs of Galloway, p. 242, says that “the Sheriff simultaneously increased his Galloway estates and acquired the lands of Cults, including Baltier and Kevands”. The deed conveying these lands to the Sheriff from his son-in-law, James Kennedy, was signed at Lochnaw "in presence of Quentin Agnew, lawful son of the said Sir Andrew Agnew;" and among the charters which then came into his possession, as evidents, is a curious one by the Earl of Douglas to John de Cavens, dated 1421 showing the origin of the word Kevands, which, though much altered by modern orthography, is always pronounced Cavens.


According to Sir Andrew, the “first rentalls of the lands of Cruggleton Cavens” brought in “300 marks.” [Ibid., p. 329]"




The Kevans of Galloway. Article on the World Families server @

Harold Edington, CDSNA Septs Project Coordinator, has produced a booklet on the Douglas septs. This contains much information not previously available in the Douglas Archives.

The booklet can be downloaded as a pdf or read as a FlipBook from our Septs page.

Comments on the booklet would be welcome.

Jim is one of the good guys!  He will look after you well.


I notice that under "vassals" for Clan Douglas identified in the History section of The Douglas Archives, the family name 'Kidston' is not spelled correctly (incorrectly listed as kidson)... this should be corrected. 

Also, it is my opinion that the Kidston family should be given 'allied family' status of Clan Douglas, rather than 'vassal' status, given the fact the the ancient lands in question near Peebles were first owned by the ancient Kidston family, prior to being granted by King Robert II to the first Earl of Douglas.  A vassal family of Clan Douglas would not have any prior claim to land ownership, only feu status as a tenant. 

I have posted a document on the 'Early History of the Kidston Family in Scotland" on my home page.


Comments welcome.   Robert D. Davic

Thank you, Robert for the correction, which is very welcome.

You were kind enough to send me the paper on the history of Kidston about a year ago, and i include a link from the Septs page.

I have included a remark about allied families on the page.

Yours aye,



Making conections

The more information you can give about the people you mention, the more chance there is of someone else connecting with your family.

Dates and places of births, deaths and marriages all help to place families.

Professions also help.

'My great-grandmother mother was a Douglas from Montrose' does not give many clues to follow up! But a bit of flesh on the bones makes further research possible. But if we are told who she married, what his profession was and where the children were baptised, then we can get to work.

Maybe it is time to update the information in your profile?

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