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Our 2,768 members have registered
2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

The Cavie One-Name Study began when attempting to resolve two problems with my ancestors. My great-grandfather Sydney Ernest Cavie went off to the Boar War as a civilian saddler and never returned, his fate unknown. I could not find the marriage of his grandfather William Cavie to Jane, his grandmother. The project was registered with the Guild in 1998. I still don't know the fate of my great-grandfather despite searches of records in UK and South Africa.  The answer to my second problem has been solved thanks to autosomal DNA testing and information from a previously unknown distant cousin.  The marriage took place in a parish with no known connections with either party, it was indexed as Thomas rather than William and the bride's name was misspelt, so difficult to find.

Variant names

Cavey is a more common modern variant. Cavy, Cavye, Caveye, Cavay and Kavey are rarer and in most cases archaic variants. Modern Cavaye is not a variant but a distinct Scottish family with their own society but not registered with the Guild.

Name origin

The Cavie and Cavey families in the 1881 British census had at least three origins. Some were descended from those who had been in England at least from the 16th century. The origin of the name here is uncertain, a local variant of Cave cannot be ruled out currently but is perhaps unlikely except as a deviant spelling. A second group were of Irish origin, Cavey possibly being an anglicised version of a Gaelic name (McDavy) or a locative. Those in Jersey were of French origin. The OED defines cavie as Scottish derived from Dutch meaning hen coup. Cavie as an alternative to Guinea Pig derives from the Latin name Cavia porcellus. The phrase '€˜to keep cavey'€™ derives from the Latin '€˜cave'€™ meaning beware which was shouted out by the one on watch when someone approached. None of these seem connected with the name.

Distribution of the name

The English Cavies and Caveys were and are concentrated in the South East, particularly Kent and East Sussex. Most of those currently spelling the name Cavie are descended from my ancestor William of Tunbridge Wells. There are sporadic occurrences of the name for example in East Midlands, West Country and Wiltshire/ Berkshire at least one of which is a variant of Carvey. The Caveys of Irish origin tend to concentrated in NW England. Most of the USA Caveys are probably of Irish origin. The distribution of Covey in 19th century shows that it is particularly concentrated in the southern England especially in Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex. This opens up the possibility that Cavey/Covey evolved from a common origin into eastern and western branches in southern England.


BMDs E & W from 1837, censuses E & W, probate PCC and NPC from 1858, some PR. Data from USA, Canada, Australia now being added.  Please contact me.


The Cavie DNA Project welcomes all participants. We encourage you to join today!Our project is just getting started, and we expect to have many exciting discoveries.


Participating is an opportunity to uncover information not provided in the paper records, which will help with your family history research. We will also discover which family trees are related. As the project progresses, the results for the various family trees will provide information about the evolution of the surname. It is possible that some of the listed surnames evolved at different times and places into other listed surnames, while others are variant spellings of the same name. DNA studies will help to clarify this.


The Y DNA test tells you about your direct male line, which would be your father, his father, and back in time. You must be male to take this test, and you should have one of the surnames shown. If you believe there is a Cavie or variant in your direct male line, although you have a different surname, you are also welcome to participate. If you are female, you will need to find a direct line male in your family tree to participate and represent your tree. We encourage males to order a Y-DNA test for 37 markers, if possible. If you order less markers, you can upgrade later, though this costs a little more.


Both males and females may also be interested in learning about their direct female line, which would be their mother, their mother's mother, and back in time. Both men and women inherit mtDNA, although only women pass it on. To explore your direct female line, you would order a mtDNA test. For matches in a genealogical time frame, order the mtDNA Full Sequence test.


Both the Y DNA and the mtDNA test results contain no personal information, and you will match or be a close match to those to whom you are related. This is an opportunity to learn more about your origins and ancestry.

For more information go to the project profile

and see also the DNA project website

If you wish to join the project please contact me