Recent DNA evidence reveals that most (if not all) of the Olivers who are currently living in and around Armagh City – no matter whether they be Catholic or Protestant - share a common Oliver ancestor. The question that Brendan Oliver, of Olivers’ Fruit and Veg on Thomas Street, had for me was: So who drank the soup? In the days of the Famine, impoverished Catholics who showed up at soup kitchens run by Protestants often felt pressure to convert. Those who did, were referred to as Soupers. The irony, in this case, is that no one drank the soup. Sometime in the early to mid-1800s, a Protestant Oliver, and perhaps more than one of them, converted to Catholicism.
- Sir Thomas Jackson (the focus of my research) and I both descend from a William Oliver who held a lease and farmed at Ennislare in Co. Armagh - at least as early as the 1700s. Oral history has it that our ancestors were Huguenots from the South of France. My great-great-grandmother, Eliza Oliver (1815-1903), Sir Thomas’ mother, repeated this version of the family history, and her daughters and grand-daughters passed the tale down to me.
- Secondly, I am curious about how Protestants and Catholics lived together in Armagh in the mid-1800s when Thomas was growing up as a son of tenant farmers, and yet to become “Sir”. How many interfaith marriages were there? How did they pan out? How much interfaith socializing happened? And business deals?
- A clue to the exact nature of the relationship between the Protestant and Catholic Olivers may eventually be revealed thanks to a legal cock-up – likely committed by my ggg-grandfather Benjamin Oliver (abt 1765-1831) of Killynure. Legal tidiness was clearly not his forte. After the death of his eldest son William Oliver (abt 1810-1873), a July 17, 1880 announcement advertised the sale of 66 acres in the townland of Lisdrummard; 31 acres in Knockagraphy; and 1 acre in Drumgar. These lands were part of his estate. Curiously, it was John Oliver (abt 1841-1909 - a Catholic Oliver), and his contemporary Benjamin Oliver (1842-1905 – a Protestant Oliver), who were described as owners and petitioners. Eliza Oliver, in a July 21, 1880 letter to her son Thomas Jackson, suggested that both of these men might have a legitimate claim to a third of the value of the land. We know that Benjamin never received any money from this (and subsequently left for Australia), and I assume that John didn’t either – but would love to know the whole story. Who had held the original deeds?
- Olivers of Tattykeel. This is a pre-Cromwellian line of Olivers. It starts with an Andrew, Stephen & William Oliver who all show up in Armagh Hearth Rolls of 1664 – two of them held leases in Tyrone, and one in Armagh at what is now know as Farmacaffley. Many of the hunches about their ancestors and descendants rely on a book: Henry William Oliver 1807-1888: His Descendants. It was privately published by Henry Oliver Rea in 1959 in Tyrone. Unfortunately, for the earliest bits, it relies on a document that I have not been able to find a copy of. It presumes that the descendants of OLIVERs in Tattykeel, Parish of Kildress, Co. Tyrone moved to Co. Armagh. A line of OLIVERs were already well established in Mullinture in the early 1700s, and are likely connected. This tree also includes the OLIVERs who became successful businessmen in Pittsburgh in the late 1800s in the steel industry. It is the descendants of the Andrew Oliver who are most likely to be the ones who are most closely connected to the two lines that we have DNA evidence for. My hunches about a likely fit with this early Andrew Jackson are based on the following snippets of facts (as well as naming patterns):
- There is mounting evidence that the OLIVERs of Lislooney were also closely related in the early 1700s – at least at the 1st cousin level - to the OLIVERs of Farmacaffley aka Sherranmcaghully, Parish Of Eglish, Co. Armagh, hence to the Olivers of Ennislare as well as to the Olivers of Tattykeel, Parish Of Kildress.
- Then there is the family of William OLIVER – probably of Cavanagarven Where were they before 1800? That’s anyone’s guess. They ended up in Keady, but may have originated as a branch of the Lislooney tree.
- The Olivers of Ballymoran are also of interest since this townland is on the southern border of the townland of Ennislare. Also, the 1938 Letter from Blin Brown (1886-1964) refers to burials of her relations at Lisnadill Church, where many of this lot were married or buried. The name Henry, who heads up this tree, does not crop up often in the lines of Olivers of Armagh, but Benjamin Oliver (1765-1831) did have a son named Henry who died as an infant bwt 1818-1821. This is at least an unexplained echo of the name.
- The Olivers of Lisnacroy, Co. Tyrone (This tree includes the OLIVER ancestors of Maria Beattie, one of the many thorough and generous spirited researchers who I have had the pleasure to meet and whose research has been essential).
- A line of Olivers from Aughnamullen that begins with a Thomas Oliver (abt 1741-1826) of Aughnamullen aka James Oliver. I have yet to post him as a separate tree on my website (and the data in this tree is thanks to the diligence of a descendant, Richard Oliver), but he is included in the Rootsweb version of my family tree. I will post his info in a separate tree on my web site when I get home. Both of these trees show only one degree of DNA separation from the Olivers of Ballycrummyand the Olivers of Ennislare.
|L-R Marie, Francis, Moura, and Naill|
|Maureen Oliver - who runs the best ever B&B at Fairylands.|