E-mail me Welcome page Ancestors Sussex

My maternal grandfather was Edward George Olliver (1902-79). He was born at Brighton, but I have not been able to confirm that his father, Edward Olliver (1873-1924) was also born at Brighton. Edward George Olliver married my grandmother Julia Ethel VALDER at Brighton, St Martin in 1927.

Edward Olliver (1873-1924) married Annie Sophia WELLS (1870-1952) at Brighton in 1902. Edward and Annie are known to have had four children at Brighton. At his marriage Edward said that his father was also Edward Olliver, a carpenter.

However, the only Edward Olliver I have been able to find in the GRO birth indexes and in the 1881 census for Brighton was the son of Thomas and Amanda (née KING). Thomas Olliver (1851-94) was a carpenter so at least that fits.
WW1 Army Group Edward Olliver was in the Royal Sussex Regiment from at least 1902. Family photographs included one of an Army group but Edward's granddaughter did not know which was Edward, when pressed she said he was the one with the moustache!

Thanks to the efforts of Geoff Bridger and his fellow WW1 research enthusiasts my Edward Olliver in the photograph has now been positively identified. The photograph was probably taken in about 1916 and is of a group serving in the Army Service Corps. Not front-line troops but those who endeavoured to deliver essential supplies to the front-line.

Closer examination shows that the man seated in the centre of the photograph looks older than the rest and he has two medal ribbons. The knowledge and experience of Geoff Bridger and his friends have revealed these ribbons to be for the India medal and the Tibet medal (1903-4). The Tibet medal is unusual and only five men from the Royal Sussex Regiment were among the total of 58 recipients in the British Army. The RSR men were loaned to one of the main regiments serving in Tibet and Edward Olliver is listed as one of the five. The Royal Sussex Regiment were serving in India but were not in Tibet. So in the photograph my Edward Olliver is actually the one with the largest moustache!

The five men from the Royal Sussex Regiment were all Signallers, Francis Younghusband required many signallers to set up a communication link with Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. The medal details for Edward Olliver indicate that he did not go all the way to Lhasa, unfortunately his Service records for this phase of his army career seem to have been lost. His WW1 records do survive but were damaged during WW2 - they are part of the Burnt Documents collection at the Public Record Office in Kew. These records include the names of Edward's wife and four children. The page listing the children was badly damaged but the birth dates were intact. The children's first names were almost totally missing but as they were already known the available information was just what I needed. Due to Edward's service in India and Tibet there is a long gap between his first and second children, 1902 followed by 1908. Edward volunteered for WW1 service in 1916 despite being over the age for call-up. He remained in the army after the war ended and left in 1920 due to a recurrent knee problem. Edward died in 1924 of an aneurism, a burst artery. He was therefore away from home for much of his marriage, this may well explain why my grandfather, Edward George Olliver, did not speak about him.

I still have the problem of confirming Edward's parentage. Only Edward Olliver and his mother Amanda appear in the 1881 census, I cannot find Thomas Olliver (1851-94) in the National index. I also cannot find any of the three in the 1891 census for Brighton. I am wondering whether Amanda and Edward Olliver may have been using a different surname at that time. I have not found a death or remarriage after 1894 for Amanda Olliver. Perhaps the online (offline) 1901 census will reveal her - if it ever works!

I have a fairly convincing story as to why my Edward Olliver may not have known who his father was or not wanted to acknowledge him. I found that his probable father Thomas Olliver died in 1894 at the age of 43, which seemed rather young. I obtained the death certificate and found that he died of a brain haemorrhage caused by a blow to the head. I thought that such a occurrence had probably prompted a inquest. Inquests were usually reported in the local press and I found this was true in this case. Thomas had died overnight after being brought to his father's house having been found unconscious in the street. As he was often drunk it was assumed that he would sleep it off but in the morning was found to be dead. The inquest heard how a pub landlord had refused to continuing serving Thomas and had him removed from the pub. There was a brawl in the street and Thomas hit his head on the kerb. According to the newspaper report Thomas was often drunk and of no fixed abode, this may be why he cannot be found in the 1881 and 1891 censuses. He had spent some time in the Workhouse before his death but isn't listed there in 1891.

If I could prove the link between my Edward Olliver (1873-1924) and Thomas (1851-94) I can easily go back several more generations. Thomas (1851-94) was the illegitimate son of another Thomas Olliver (1833-98) and Lucy KNOWLES (1831-54), his parents married a few months after his birth, probably when Lucy reached the age of 21. Lucy died after developing cholera, this was a common problem in parts of Brighton at that time. Thomas Olliver senior remarried and Thomas junior had to live with his Olliver grandparents. Thomas junior's sister, Lucy Ann (1853-?), lived with her childless uncle William Olliver and his wife Sophia. Today's social scientists would have no problem coming up with theories for Thomas Olliver junior's slide into drunkenness.

Thomas Olliver senior (1833-98) was the son of Edward (1793-1871) and Sarah (née DAVIES). Edward and Sarah were non-conformists and seven of their eight children were baptised at the Wesleyan Chapel, Dorset Gardens, Brighton. Their first child was baptised in 1817 at Brighton's parish church of the time, St Nicholas. Edward worked as a furniture broker and lived in Edward Street. Thomas Olliver junior (1851-94) was living with Edward and Sarah at the 1861 and 1871 censuses. He is listed as their grandson Thomas OLLIVER despite being registered at birth as Thomas Oliver KNOWLES.

Edward Olliver (1793-1871) was the youngest known child of Clement Olliver (1748?-1806) and Sarah DOWNER (1750?-1816). Clement and Sarah married at Patching in 1775 by licence, the licence was taken out at Pagham a few days before the marriage. Clement and Sarah had at least seven children at Patching from 1775, both were buried there but all their sons left the village. A different Olliver branch were at Patching later in the 1800s. A memorial ring giving the death dates of Clement and Sarah was found in Maryland, USA, it's not known who had it made or how it got to the States. Many thanks to the finder for sending me photographs of the ring.
Clement Olliver was probably born at Goring in 1748, son of Edward and Mary (née RICHARDSON). Edward and Mary married at Rumboldswyke in 1746, they had George and Clement at Goring, seven more children then followed at Ferring. Edward was probably born at Goring in 1721, son of Clement and Margaret (née SWIFT). This Clement was probably born at Goring in 1685, son of Clement and Anne (née BRIGGS). The registers then fail to bridge the Civil War divide but it is likely that Clement was descended from the Clement who married at Angmering in 1616, he had children with Elizabeth HALL at Slindon.

I have a lot of information about the Ollivers of West Sussex and those who went to Brighton in the 1800s due to trying to find possible alternatives for my Edward. There appear to be several distinct Olliver lines in West Sussex with no links since at least the Civil War.

Many, many thanks to Geoff Bridger and his friends for deciphering the details in the photograph of Edward Olliver. Without his help I would have continued to regard it as just another unidentified photograph in the family album. Instead, with the expert attention it has received many stories have been revealed.
Top E-mail me Welcome page Ancestors Sussex