I am in the midst of assembling all the bits
that I have at hand on our OLIVER part of our family tree - as
well as parts of related OLIVER families. Various biographies
will need to be rewritten over the next month and family trees
amended accordingly. Until then, please bear with me.
I have also been posting OLIVER
Family - Tables of information in a page with links to pages
of wills, news reports, BMDs and
With respect to the draft posted beneath, please let me know if you
spot any inaccuracies of fact or presentation and I will hasten to
Sharon Oddie Brown, January 22, 2007
Amendment to the section on emmigration & William OLIVER of Athol -
thanks to Kathryn C. BRYAN. January 23, 2007
Amendment January 24, 2007 - see paragrah in blue.
Family Early Detective Work
Oral histories are both enticing
and treacherous. If my ancestors were anything like my father and
my brothers (and myself as well), the version that has made its way
down to me would have been embellished many times over to suit the
needs of the audience of the day. So what about the story that the
OLIVERs of Ulster originally came to Ireland as Huguenots from France?
This version comes from our g-g-g-grandmother, Eliza OLIVER (the
mother of Sir Thomas JACKSON) who died in full possession of her
mental faculties at the age of 88 in 1903. The fact that her version
is at least three generations old lends it some credence, but only
Her granddaughter, Amy Oliver JACKSON adds her
bit on this version: They were of French Protestant origin, who
took refuge in the Netherlands and came to Ireland with William of
Orange's Army. If so, this emigration of an OLIVER ancestor
would likely have tied into the time of the Battle of the Boyne in
1690. According to her grandmother, the aforementioned Eliza OLIVER, They
were all clever, tall, good-looking people with beautiful hands.
As Grandmother once said: "We have often been called mad, but
If our early OLIVERs were French
Huguenots who emigrated directly to Northern Ireland, then it makes
some sense to start looking for them shortly after 1685, (although
there were OLIVERs in Ulster before then - some of whom are alleged
to have come from Scotland). In 1685 a wave of Huguenots fled France after
King Louis XIV overturned the protections of the Treaty of Nantes.
Considerable violence was unleashed against these Huguenots, many of whom would likely have been in the linen
industry and also have been people of some means – not
noble class, but well heeled merchants. This makes a good fit with
the OLIVERs that we have traced from the City of Armagh. Certainly,
there are OLIVERS who resided in Armagh and were moderately successful
in the linen trade by the late 1700s.
If we do choose to start with 1685,
it is still quite a leap to get to our first linen-trade OLIVERs
of Armagh in the early to mid 1700s. So, what happened in the intervening
years? Who were these people? Where did they live? What did they
do? The clues that connect them to the original OLIVER immigrants
from France are less plentiful than the crumbs left by Hansel and
Gretel. Although birds haven’t been pecking up the scattered
clues to our past, there have been fires in archives, the usual tossing
out of stuff at the end of a life, emigrations, bombings and repeated
instances of loss of memory (both willed and inadvertent) – all
these and more have been just as effective.
Let me give just one example of how
impediments to research crop up in unexpected and dramatic ways.
For years I looked for a stained glass window, allegedly in St. Patrick’s
Cathedral in Armagh (Church of Ireland). The Olivers had commissioned
it and of particular interest to me was the fact that it supposedly included
the OLIVER family crest of three fish. Time and again, I returned
to the Cathedral and couldn’t find it. I was convinced that
I must be some sort of dolt – a very inattentive dolt. My sources
were elderly people who had actually seen this window themselves.
So where was it? Then, I noticed a small plaque on the south wall.
Our window as well as all the others on that wall had been blown
to smithereens by a bomb on September 29th, 1957.
Then I forgot about it - until I was emailed about the fact that there was indeed an OLIVER crest in the cathedral, but not the one that I had been hoping for. To see what if looks like, it is included in a page about my search for The OLIVER Family Crest
Early OLIVER sightings related
to Co. Tyrone OLIVERs
In pursuing the ancestry of the OLIVER
line that links up to Eliza OLIVER, we cannot ignore the narrative
that comes from other branches of Ulster OLIVERS – the ones
from Co. Tyrone. There are several, but I will start with just one
for now because it is the most extensive – the history of the
ancestors of Henry W. OLIVER (1840-1904). In the mid 1800s, this highly successful businessman
emigrated from Dungannon, County Tyrone to Philadelphia and it was
in honour of his life and his ancestry, that Henry Oliver REA assembled
the history of these Tyrone OLIVERs. It is hard to say what the connection between
this branch of OLIVERs and ours might be but since Counties Tyrone & Armagh
are cheek by jowl, it would not be far fetched to consider some sort
of connection between them.
Henry Oliver Rea’s version
starts with the notion of a French antecedent – in much the
same way that our family narrative would have it:
The " Olier " or " D'Olier " family is characterised
as an ancient, powerful, and noble family in the south of France.
The oldest record of the name is on the roster of the 12 peers
of Charlemagne (742-814 A.D.), king of the Franks and emperor of
the Holy Roman Empire. The name is immortalized by the great French
epic Chanson de Roland, based upon Charlemagne's expedition against
the Spaniards in 778 A.D. Members of the family held high offices
under the kings. For example a Bertrand Olier was Capitoul of Toulouse
in 1364 A.D. It is believed that the surname is a derivative of " olive
branch," the symbol of peace.
Then there are various OLIVERs
sightings in England, but we will ignore them for now and jump
to the earliest record that we have of an Ulster-based OLIVER
In Ireland the surname[OLIVER] appears
first in the province of Ulster, on the roster of an English garrison
(1611-1616), which made tours of duty in the counties of Londonderry
and Tyrone. “Of Brittish Birth and Descent” and “Brittish
tenants” were phrases used by Nicholas Pynnar in 1618 and
1619 to describe the settlers at Tullyhogue Manor near Cookstown,
County Tyrone. There is in existence strong circumstantial evidence
that James Oliver whose name appears on the military roster
of 1611-1616 did military duty in this region as early as 1606;
and official records confirm that the same area was the ancestral
paternal home of Henry Oliver (1807-1888).
More circumstantial evidence
(which may or may not prove out) connects these OLIVERs to George
OLIVER, who was a resident in Co. Tyrone in 1631. Even though these
OLIVERs are resident in Ulster some 54 years before floods of Huguenots
left France for Ireland, we cannot rule out a close connection
to French ancestry. They may have come from after a short sojourn
in Scotland or England – we really do not know at this stage.
How do these OLIVERs connect
to the ancestors of Eliza OLIVER? Although there are a few leaps
of faith needed, it seems quite possible that this George OLIVER
of Tullyhogue, Co. Tyrone was actually the father of Stephen, Andrew & William
OLIVER who are recorded as residing in Co. Armagh. This is complicated,
so it is worth thinking back to some of the events in Ulster at the
time. Henry Oliver REA’s theory (or the theory of his researcher)
is that these OLIVERs from Tyrone may have fled to Armagh as a result
of the sectarian violence surrounding the Siege of Derry in 1641
(and also the widespread torching of Protestant farms in Ulster at
the time). It seems possible that these same Tyrone OLIVERs
may have subsequently resided in Armagh on and off. There is much more to say on this, but rather
than posting more excerpts I would first like to get in touch with
the family of Henry Oliver REA and see whether they might be willing
to post the full story of their OLIVER ancestors on the web.
Three other researchers have
also made significant contributions to my understanding of the
OLIVERs from Co. Tyrone. I met Maria BEATTIE in London in the spring
of 2006 and we have been in touch ever since. Many of the tables
that are posted on my web site are the result of her work. In turn,
her work would have been legless were it not for the meticulous
research undertaken by Harry NICHOLSON. Then, there is the irrepressible
Cec OLIVER of Saltspring Island, BC – almost a neighbour.
I will return to their inter-connected work in the future, perhaps
after my trip in the spring of 2007 – with regret -
but if I chase too many tangents at this stage, I will never get
to writing the story of Eliza OLIVER – the key person who I
need to always keep in my sights.)
OLIVERs and Emigration
There is a saying in Newfoundland, “There
they are, gone.” When it comes to tracking down many of our
elusive OLIVERs, it is useful to remember that many of them are in
fact gone. In the early 1700s more than 100,000 people emigrated
from Ulster to American – most of them Presbyterians. It was
a result of a “perfect storm” of significantly rising
rents, harvest failures and the indignity and the financial constraints
that the sacramental test inflicted upon them. Some of these emigrants
were OLIVERs and I have caught a mention of some who may have gone
or were at least thinking of it.
In August of 1735, Thomas Cumming
was sailing a ship bound for North Carolina and sent his agents to
several parts of the counties of Monaghan, Cavan, and Meath, to get
passengers. He followed several of them to “the public meeting-house,
David Wright, that he might earn 40. sterling a month by easy labour,
and told Robert Oliver, who is a linen weaver, that he would
get a guinea sterling for weaving a ten hundred piece of cloth,
which according to the labour of a good workman in linen of that
sort, would produce above £100 sterling a year.”
Whether Robert OLIVER took the bait,
I do not know. Nor do I know how he might fit into the story – but
his connection to linen weaving hooks my interest.
Three years later, in 1738, Andrew
OLIVER, a weaver from Armagh, along with his brother Thomas OLIVER
and two unnamed brothers (at least, unnamed to me) were four of the
100,000 or so Irish and Scots-Irish who emigrated to North America.
A year later, he married a local woman. It seems that he was successful
as he had a high profile as a signatory of the Articles of Association
on April 29th, 1775. This meant that he had thrown in
his hat with the Continental Congress, which meant that he was decidedly on the side
of American Independence (as were most other Ulster Presbyterians
at the time). Close to six months later, on October 15, 1775, the
Council of Safety (which essentially ran things after the Legislature
of New York had adjourned and delegated its powers) moved their meeting
to Andrew OLIVER’s home. The Council had been meeting at the
Tavern of Coenrandt at Kingston when British troops were discovered “a
few miles away on the Hudson River”. Since much of the town
of Kingston was in flames, Andrew OLIVER’s home was obviously
a much safer refuge. Unfortunately, Andrew OLIVER himself was killed
in the winter of 1777, but at least he left descendants. Their lives
led to a Bible (including a couple of obituaries and a family genealogy)
being kept for a few generations and this same Bible was recently
offered on a sale on eBay which in turn led me to his story. It turns
out that his son, James OLIVER, was the surgeon for the Ulster County
Regiment of the New York Militia and that Andrew OLIVER’s house
where the historically significant events occurred, is still preserved
as an historic landmark.
While we are keeping track of
possible relatives and/or ancestors who may have emigrated there
was also a Robert OLIVER who became a successful businessman in
Baltimore and then died there in 1835 at age 74 (therefore
he was born abt. 1751). Originally, he was from Trooperfield, near
Lisburn (the son of Robert OLIVER & Mary WATERWORTH) and had emigrated
with two brothers,
John and Thomas . I mention him not only because he was obviously
a member of the business class, but also because Lisburn was such
a vibrant linen town, and this seems to be a common thread in our
story (pardon the pun). He is soon to be included in an upcoming
book on Scots-Irish merchants in 18th century North America
currently being written by Richard MacMaster.
Another brief glimpse of an OLIVER
of Scots-Irish descent who emigrated from Northern Ireland is of
a William OLIVER who was born about 1700. He became the father of John, Robert, William
and James OLIVER who also settled in Athol, Massachusetts in either
the fall of 1735 or the spring of 1836. They were of Scotch-Irish descent, and came to America
directly from the north of Ireland. They are said to have been
healthy, robust, stout men, who had the strength and will to build
for themselves homes among the forests of old Athol. William may also have been a brother of Lancelot b. 1804 who emigrated
with the CALDWELL family in 1718..
The last group of OLIVER emigrants
that I have found from Co. Tyrone were Presbyterians and emigrated
in 1833. This family group included John OLIVER (b. abt 1765) and
his three sons William (b. abt 1811), John (b. abt 1817) and Andrew
(b. abt 1819). (The youngest son has the letters “doa” after
his occupation of “labourer” and he does not show up
in subsequent records.) The family sailed on the “Edward Reid” from
the port of Londonderry and seem to have settled in New Brunswick Fourteen years later in 1837, a Sarah Maria OLIVER,
b. abt 1836, father John OLIVER also emigrated from Co. Tyrone and
settled in the same place.
Early OLIVER sightings related
to Co. Armagh OLIVERs
So enough of these tantalizing
side trips. What about the Armagh and Tyrone and Monaghan OLIVERs
who didn’t emigrate? On August 1670, Thomas OLIVER was a
witness to a document recorded in The Brownlow Leasebook. It is tempting and not unreasonable to suspect
that there may be some continuity between him and later OLIVERs from
the same region. Other records from the area of the Brownlow estate but more than a hundred years later include:
Benjamin, residence Lislooney, Freehold: Lislooney/ ₤50
James, residence Lislooney, Freehold: Lislooney/ ₤50
Benjamin. Killinure. Freehold Knockagraphy ₤20 15 January 1819
Benjamin. Killinure. Freehold Knockagraphy ₤20 1829.
Close to the same time frame
as this aforementioned Thomas OLIVER, there is mention of a William
OLIVER who resided within easy riding distance. With the name William,
he may also be related to the aforementioned William OLIVER of
Co. Tyrone. Regardless, this is the first OLIVER that I feel some
confidence in regarding as one of the ancestors of Eliza OLIVER
(although there are still several broken links to bridge before
this can be said conclusively). In 1703, Thomas Ashe wrote in a
OF ARMAGH: MULLINTUR. It contains 80r 3p Irish
plantation measure. It is very good land. William, Mary and Jane
Oliverare tenants and have
a farm house [___]. This is Lyme-Stone-Land and bears good Corne.”
It is significant to note that these
OLIVERS were described as tenants at Mullintur, not owners. This
would suggest that they were middleclass and because of faith-based
restrictions on land ownership at the time, they were quite possibly
Presbyterian (or some other version of “dissenting” faith,
which could also include Quaker).
So, where is Mullintur? Just to
keep us on our toes, there are two Armagh townlands that approximate
this name in the usual townland indices. These multiple appearances
of similarly named townlands are part of what keeps us cautious.
I am going with the first Mullintur (there are variant spellings
in the parish of Eglish. I include the location of the second Mullantur
- just in case I am wrong:
My reason for choosing the first
of the two is that Tullysaren borders it on the east. This is a townland
where many other OLIVERs resided at the time and in later years.
On the other hand, the parish of Ballymore doesn’t seem to
contain any geographically proximate OLIVERs (at least not so far!).
It is also compelling that there are also fistfuls of OLIVERS in
the Church of Ireland records many of whom are recorded as being
from Eglish Parish. In matters such as this, I say that coincidence
rules – but I may be wrong.
It seems that Mullintur and the OLIVERs
were a good fit. A couple of decades later in 1726, a will was probated
for a William OLIVER of Mullintur and also for another William OLIVER of Mullintur
in 1779. Father and son is a good bet here, but not certain. What
is more, the will abstract includes the information that the second
William was a linen draper. (The links between OLIVERs and
the linen industry will be dealt with further on.) In the meantime,
I find it encouraging that in the late 1700s there were still OLIVERs
at Mullintur. Having a fixed point is potentially useful for amateur
researchers such as myself. That being said, I still need to see
if I can find wills or other such documentary leads to take me through
to my g-g-grandmother Eliza (but she would be pleased to know that
I am still working on it!).
Bearing in mind that Tullysaren and
Mullintur are next to each other, it is also likely that the William
OLIVER of Tullysaren who shows up in the Rent Book of Armagh Estates
of the Earl of Charlemount as paying ₤188.8.131.52 on 1st May
1765 is connected to the OLIVERs of Mullintur.
The name Arthur OLIVER is also a
name to pay attention to. He shows up as a witness on April 26, 1770
and later on July 30th, 1770 where he is described as
a linen draper of Balinahonebeg, Co. Armagh. The townland, Balinahonebeg
is also significant as it crops up with increased frequency in the
various leases concerning OLIVERs in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
Arthur OLIVER also appears on the Petition of Protestant Dissenters
from October & November 1775 (as do Andrew, Josh & William
OLIVER). He is also likely the same Arthur OLIVER who paid ₤1.2.9
towards a reward for catching whoever “burglariously broke
into” the cellar of James McMULLAN of Blackwatertown from which “15
rolls of tobacco [were] feloniously taken” belonging to John
MARSHALL and the said James McMULLAN.
Although graveyards are often a good
bet for finding out more about our ancestors, many of our OLIVERs
from the Parish of Lisnadill were buried in a family plot that has
been used as a cow pasture for years. Not surprisingly, the hooves
of the cows have taken their toll and there is nothing left to be
read. Fortunately, the internments that were affiliated with churches
have stood a better chance. Not only is there an absence of cows,
but also there are sometimes internment records. Here we hit pay
dirt, or at least find another crumb. According to the internment
records for St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland, Co. Armagh (St.
Marks Internment records) an Elinor OLIVER of Mullintur was buried
on May 10, 1753. The Armagh Church of Ireland deserves full marks
(and your donations) for cataloguing and making these records accessible.
Will probates have also proved to
be fruitful ground. As mentioned earlier, two William OLIVERs show
up at Mullintur in probates for 1726 and 1779. Regrettably, most
of the actual wills were burned in 1922 in a politically provoked
fire at the records office in Dublin, but a smattering of abstracts
still survive. I have posted them on my website in table form: Probate Reords of OLIVERs from Armagh. In
these records of probates for the 1700s, the names of Andrew, Arthur,
Benjamin, John and William OLIVER crop up. Also in this timeframe,
the townlands of Ballynahonebeg, Glenmore, Mullaghghrive, Mullintur
appear, sometimes more than once. In the 1800s, the names Andrew,
Benjamin, David, Esther, Frances, James, John, Joseph, Mark, Martha
and William OLIVER appear. Townland names in this later timeframe
include: Armagh, Aughnasallagh, Ballynahonebeg, Ballyrea, Benburb,
Brootally, Enagh, Killynure, Lishiny, Tullymore and Tullysaren. By
now, many of these names and places click in solidly and their place
in the family tree is well known to me. As they say, “Where
there’s a will, there’s a way” (another bad pun!).
By the time we move up to the early
1770s, we find a will for a Benjamin OLIVER of Ballynahonebegg, Co.
Armagh in 1770 and one for a John OLIVER of Tullymore in 1772. Given
the slew of leases that surround these lands and other in the vicinity
and which a few decades later connect up with our known family, I
would suggest that these two OLIVERs –
Benjamin and John - are both related to us in ways that are yet to
be determined. Not that I can tell you more at this stage, except to
note that Eglish Parish includes Mullintur, Knockagrahy & Tullymore & Tullysaren – all townlands
of interest in deeds that mention the name OLIVER. In a less serious
citation, Benjamin OLIVER is mentioned as a judge in Caledon ploughing
Recurring family names also have
me mulling about connections, although this line of inquiry is more
in the nature of long shots. Still, long shots can and do pay off
from time to time. For example, there is an Esther OLIVER, an Armagh
widow whose will was probated in 1819. Was she a widow of William
OLIVER of Mullintur? A generation or two later, Griffiths Valuations
show an Esther OLIVER at Mullintur. It does make me wonder. There
are also family stories of the OLIVER-DOBBIN connections, and there
was an Esther DOBBIN living close to this time and place so it is possible that the naming pattern here
bears a second look. Interestingly, the Andrew OLIVER who died in
1777 in Marbletown also had a descendant named “Esther” and
for all we know may have had a daughter named Esther (women fare
less well in remembered history).
It is also helpful not to get too
locked down with respect to the faith divide. For example, one branch
of the Armagh OLIVERs converted to Catholicism in the mid-1800s,
if not earlier. These days many of the OLIVER descendants still living
in the townlands of the earlier Presbyterian OLIVERs are in fact
Catholic. This probably says as much about the effects of interfaith
marriages, politics and economics as it says about any commitment
to faith itself – one way or the other.
OLIVER family in linen and related
At the outset, I mentioned the Huguenots
and their connection to the linen trade. The earliest French Protestant
OLIVER connected to the weaving trades is a framework knitter (whatever
that is) in Dublin in 1701 Next is in 1721 when William OLIVER (a weaver)
leases land from Sir Robert ADAIR. Then we have our two weaver emigrants, Robert & Andrew
OLIVER in the 1730s (at least Andrew emigrated for sure). All these
are names that don’t connect with our family, except by the
fact of their last name and their trade. Once we hit the mid-1700s,
we are on firmer ground. I will examine many of them in the context
of their family trees since most of them are verified members of
Eliza OLIVER’s family tree. As for the rest of them, I need
to follow up on more leases as well as newspaper records such as
the Belfast Newsletter until I speak with any authority on how they
might (or might not) fit in.
Several OLIVER men from Caledon,
Co. Tyrone are also affiliated with the weaving trades. In fact,
a working linen mill where they may have worked can
still be seen at Wellbrook Beetling Mill outside Cookstown (beetling
is the process used to smooth and polish linen after weaving).This occupational convergence of OLIVERs and weaving may be a coincidence,
or it may be meaningful. In time, I will knit the story of the
linen and wool industries and their various ups and downs into
the story of the specific family members who were all part of it.
Again, that will likely amount to enough material that it will
be worth a web page all on its own.
Also, worth a story in its own right
will be the story of the mills at Laragh, Co. Monaghan. These mills
were amongst several that were covered by leases owned by the grandfather
of Eliza OLIVER and her uncles. It will also be productive to follow
up on how the story of the Laragh Mills connects up to the various
OLIVER family members living nearby, some of who are most likely
to be part to the OLIVER family tree whose beginnings are in Co.
Monaghan. This is the tree which is currently being researched by
Richard OLIVER of England and which goes back to Thomas (or John)
OLIVER of Augnamullen - an uncle of Eliza OLIVER. Given that Eliza
was married in a nearby church at Ballybay and that she was an orphan,
it is not impossible to imagine that she may have been staying with
the family of this particular uncle.
1910 Armagh “Belfast & Ulster Towns Directory shows a Joseph
OLIVER resident at Navan Street, Armagh.
When I was last browsing the library at Gilford Castle,
I made a note that on p. 478 in a book “Irish Pedigrees”,
there was a list of names of Huguenot families naturalized between
1681-1712 (reigns of Charles II & Anne) and the name OLIVER was
included. I need to check this citation.
listed in 1611-1616 Muster rolls (#74)
Dungannon, Co. Tyrone
“No. 45. … No Arms” served under Robert LINDSEY
Son of George OLIVER of Tattykeel, Co. Tyrone; householder in Armagh
Son of George OLIVER of Tattykeel Co. Tyrone; householder in Armagh
Son of George OLIVER of Tattykeel;, Co. Tyrone householder in Armagh
1761 08 Jan; Charles Broadhead, jm; Mary Oliver, jd, both liv Marbletown.
D/1928/F/58 D/1928/F/80 D/1928/F/103 I need
to look again at these records again to better understand my notes.
mean that she only had one husband and there could still be an OLIVER
in the mix – a long shot!
Lease of Land of Dunfean in the Manor of Killhillstown alias Ballymena
for 120 years Sir Robert Adair to William Oliver, weaver 1721.PRONI