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The Oliver Brothers

       James OLIVER  Samuel OLIVER
James  Oliver (1805 - 1886) Samuel Oliver (1819 - 1873)

The day of this update marks the 180th anniversary of the departure of the Oliver brothers, James and Samuel, to New Plymouth on the barque 'Amelia Thompson' on the 25 March 1841.

James emigrated with his wife Ruth and seven children. Unfortunately one child died on the voyage over.

Samuel was single and met his wife, Elizabeth, in New Plymouth. She sailed on the barque 'Blenheim' with her family the following year and they married two years after that!

Who is the Mother of our James and Samuel Oliver?

Grace Brayley has thought to have been the mother of our brothers - James (1805-1886) and Samuel Oliver (1819-1873). However, revelations from Katia and Tim Oliver, have concluded she was not their mother. This, after extensive and thorough research that included going through a myriad of new records that were scanned at the Devon Record Office as recently as 2020.

Tim Oliver is a x3 great grandson of James and Ruth Oliver, his grandfather being Ivor James Clark Oliver (1907-1989).

In an email dated 4 January 2021 from Katia and Tim Oliver, they recorded their research. They started by writing down in chronological order from baptism records of children who were born from parents John and Grace Oliver from 1798 to 1822. Some of the children of John and Grace were baptised, and possibly born, within a few months of each other in 1808 and 1810 which raised alarm.

They then divided them by locations of baptism, and came up with two separate families. And, both families were headed by a John and a Grace Oliver!

The children from the first family were baptised in Ashwater and in Halwell, locations 5 miles apart in the County of Devon. The children in this family correspond with the names in the Will of James Brayley whose daughter was Grace Brayley and married John Oliver. And, Grace Brayley was born in Halwell on 9 January 1774, married John Oliver of Ashwater in Halwell on 18 September 1796 and died on 20 February 1821.

John Oliver and Grace Brayley Children

The second family were baptised in Holsworthy, St. Giles in the Heath, and Pyworthy. Holsworthy and Pyworthy are just over two miles apart. St. Giles in the Heath is a little further away at nine miles. However, we know, that the Grace that married our John Oliver was born in St. Giles in the Heath. This from the 1851 census. And, the children match those listed in our John Oliver's Will.

John Oliver and Grace Lane Children

So, the conclusion is, there were definitely two families headed by a John and a Grace Oliver. One based around the Ashwater and Halwill area. The other is our family, children baptised predominantly in the Holsworthy and Pyworthy area to the north.

Who is Grace Lane?

Katia and Tim have found a baptism record dated 29 Sep 1776 for a Grace Lane in the Parish of St Giles in the Heath. (We know from the 1851 Census that our Grace was born in St Giles in the Heath). Interestingly, this baptism date matches the age on our Grace Oliver's headstone in Boyton that reads, "Also of Grace his wife who died February 1st 1860 aged 84 years". Now, if Grace was baptised at the time of her birth, she would have been only 83 years old. However, if she was seven months old or more when baptised, she would have been aged 84 years at time of her death.

(In fact this would be the same for husband John Oliver who would of been only 77 if baptised at the time of his birth. However, if he was a couple of weeks old or more when baptised, he would match the aged 78 years on his headstone).

Note - the dates we had for Grace Brayley never matched. So, it is pretty convincing that Grace Lane is most likely the mother of our brothers James (1805-1886) and Samuel Oliver (1819-1873).

And, we now also have a record of the marriage between John Oliver and Grace Lane. This in a followup email from Katia dated 10 January 2021. The original entry from the Luffincott Parish Marriage Register Book shows the date of marriage as 1st April 1800. Luffincott is only five miles North of St Giles in the Heath where Grace was baptised.

Devon Map Showing Locations

Devon Map showing locations

We welcome any correspondence on this intriguing research.

New Photo Album

Katia and Tim Oliver, with help from the wider Hawkes Bay Oliver families, have also shared family photos. Over 150 photos are divided up into seven albums and include the families of James (Jim) Alexander Oliver and his son Ivor James Clark Oliver. Photos of their wives' families of Shute and Florance respectively, are included.

Photos of John Oliver Descendants

I have recently received a message from Tim Barnett, Manager of Digital Assets, of Auckland Libraries. The Libraries have posted over 800 photos of the descendants of John Oliver, son of James and Ruth Oliver as part of their Heritage Collections.

John Oliver's daughter, Mary Oliver, married Edwin Charles HUGHES. Mary and Edwin's children included:

  • Edith Prosser HUGHES who married Frederick John BURRELL

  • Edwina Mary HUGHES who married Alfred John WILSON and had sons George Desmond and Edwin Charles WILSON.

  • Eileen Dorothy HUGHES who married Eugene Ryan DERVAN

The above names are listed with some of the photos as possible identification. And, there are lots of unidentified family members. The collection may be found here:

Can you help?

Tim Barnett says, "we had very little to go on with when we were trying to identify people and places and would be very grateful for any corrections or additions you might be able to provide".

If you can help you may contact me or contact Tim directly at:

The Tree Pages:

'The Tree' sits alongside this website and is generated from a genealogy program called "Reunion".

Here you may navigate up and down through family relationships. To get more information on a particular person - click on their name when they appear in the middle section of the tree webpage. Here, a new 'Person Sheet' will open often giving sources of information and notes. An example here of a Person Sheet. Information on living people has been filtered out for privacy reasons.

We maintain the latest version of the software (Reunion 13.0 build 210217) used to generate 'The Tree'. Functionality includes a responsive design' for optimising the web pages for whatever device being used, ability to search by name, ability to generate  pedigree charts for easy-to-view relationships.

A big thank you to those that have contributed with additions since the last update.

Carroll, Carrell, Carrel Book

A book titled, John and Talitha Carroll - From Jersey to Wanganui, published in 2019 by Anthony Carrell is highly recommended. Anthony has written this in an informative, detailed, and interesting way, describing the life of John and Talitha and their children. They immigrated to Wanganui New Zealand in 1874 from Jersey, Channel Islands. John Carroll was born in Tipperary, Ireland and wife Talitha was born in Somerset, England. They met and married in Jersey. Read a book review here, and find details on how to purchase.

Website Dedication

This website is dedicated to Brian and Carol Oliver's children: Nigel Churton, Sarah Ferguson (nee Churton), Emma Oliver and Marie Oliver; our seven grandchildren, and to all the family members that appear in our genealogy pages!


  Contents last updated: 25 March 2021
Previous 5 updates:
3 September 2020, 7 March 2020, 3 July 2019, 20 November 2018, 4 July 2018.