What about Cavey's name ?

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From :


Jean-Luc Cavey
(France) 18 September 2006

Jean Tosti is a well known French specialist of onomastic continuously searching for the origins of the family names. On his site he assumes that Cavey, in France, comes from a location near Beaucoudray in Normandy.

I wrote to him that I could not agree with him at least for four reasons :

  • there are other locations whose name is « Le Cavey » or « de Cavey » , but no place whose name would be « Cavey » ,
  • assuming he is right, there is no reason to choose Beaucoudray as birthplace of the family name instead of another location (Corbeauville - Méautis, Millieres, Trun, Fervaches - Tessy-sur Vire, Colleville-sur-Mer or Erquy). See , Caveys Places on this site.
  • if Cavey indicates a person living in a hollow place (as explained below), places which are called « Le Cavey » or « de Cavey » might have inherited their name from this person instead of the contrary.This is not ambiguous for « Le Vallon de Cavey » at Erquy which indicates either a small valley where a Cavey was living or which was owned by a Cavey.
  • there is no known Cavey neither at Beaucoudray or at any other « Le Cavey » places. This is true in the past as well as right now

I must recognise that Beaucoudray is located just in the middle of the two Cavey areas described on the French Caveys' history page but Fervaches - Tessy-sur Vire is too and the other Cavey places are just next door...


According to most of the famous Patronymics/Onomastic specialists in France (see note below), 'Cavey' is a Latin name which is derived from two words : 'cave' and 'y'. The word 'cave', form latin 'cavus', was used to describe a curved place such as a small vallee. We found the same latin root in the name 'carve' which also describe a curved place. The second part, the suffix 'y' comes from the Latin 'acum', (sometimes changed into 'iacus' or acus') which becomes 'ay', 'ai' and 'y'. This suffix is intended to indicate that someone lives there.

(Note: A Patronymics/Onomastic is one who studies the origin and meaning of paternal names. Note also that the particular specialists mentioned above are Madame Mariane Mulon, chief librarian at the French Nationals Archives, and Professor Charles Rostaing a well known researcher in genealogy)

So 'Cavey' is the name of somebody living ('y') in a curved place ('cave'), or a small (possibly shallow) valley.

Marquis du Four de la Londe (see : Caveys in Belgium & India) reports that Lord Cave (without 'y') branch went from Normandy through the Channel after the battle of Hastings (14 october 1066) when Guillaume of Normandy, also known as Guillaume the Conquerant has invaded England. The fact is that in 1978, the managing director of Thorn Electrical Industree Corp. was Sir Richard Cave.

Here is a problem we have to discuss : In the past, most of the people does not know reading and writing. In France school became an obligation for all in 1881. As a consequence of this situation, when a father had to declare the birth of a child to the keepers of the registers of births, marriages and deaths, the name was written as it sounds and frequently spelling mistakes occurs. The Web is certainly not the right place to explain to the English readers how "Cavey" sounds in French... Let me tel you that it sounds exactly like "Cavet", "Cavé" (with an acute accent upon the 'e') or "Cavez" (See How does Cavey sounds in French ?). Are those whose name is Cavet, Cavé or Cavez, members of our family tree (via a spelling mistake) ? Nobody knows... And what about Sir Richard Cave in this case ?

By an other hand, as Adrian Cavey (U.-K. - England) wrote (see his mail in  : "Caveys in United-Kingdom", page), Cavey doesn't sound very French to an Anglo Saxon ear. This is true. In English it sounds like Casey, Carey, Davey, Carvey...

As you can see, this explanation do not agree with what Ronald D.Cavey (USA - Maryland) wrote us in his mail (Sat, 12 July 1997) and in the message he sent to an other Cavey living in U.K. Click here to see the letter Ronald sent.

I can easily understand how McDavid, McDaid, McDavitt came from the same ancestor 'David Dougherty' and the Dougherty clan. These three branches sound like 'Son of David', but what about McCaveys ? Ronald says that "The McCavey version was actually closer phonetically to the Gaelic". Maybe so...

It should be great if Ronald could give us much a more detailed and documented explanation about this mystery.

In fact, the reason I wonder about this explanation, is because most of Caveys, in UK are located in the south of England. I have never heard, before Ronald told us, that there were Caveys in Ireland, nor Wales or Scotland for that matter (Click here to see How the story began. ).

We have to keep in mind that Romans emperor 'Claude' occupied this area from about 47 BC until 450 AD. (they stayed about 5 centuries). They built the famous 'limes' from Tine to Solway known as 'Hadrian's Wall'. There is many reason for the Caveys' name in UK to be Latin (and not Gaelic) as it is on this side of the Channel, but may be I am wrong. This does not means that some Cavey might not be from Ireland and have their name derived from McCavey / Mc Cavey : see « The main debate ».

Better still : are the Caveys from England and Caveys from France relatives or not ? The Channel is not so wide that Caveys could not establish them form a side to the other...

Perhaps nobody knows but God ?


Last update : Jun-20-2021 16:29:23 CEST

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