Stu's Stories as at 2022

90 | P a g e The Intriguing Story of Captain John Oliver Up until the present time (2017) my years of searching for our John Oliver (estimated born about 1821) has proved a dismal failure. However, perhaps that has now changed thanks to snippets found by myself and members of the family in books and files on the internet. I had been brought up to believe that John Oliver may have been a Frenchman who was lost at sea along with his ship. This assumption came about because, as a ship’s captain, he came to Australia from New Caledonia, which was under French control. We know that John married Jane Ann Richards, whom I found was born 11 Nov 1832, at Phillack, Cornwall, UK, the daughter of John Richards and Jane Mitchell who were married 1 Mar 1828 in Phillack. The Richards family came to Australia on the "Julindur" in 1849. Originally, we only knew that John and Jane had a child, John George William (b. 29 Oct 1852, Sydney), and then I found another, Louis Charles (b.14 Oct 1857, Glebe, Sydney). Louis died 17 June 1915 in Cronulla, Sydney, NSW, Australia, of a "Haemorrhage from a wound to the throat -- self-inflicted". (A polite way of saying suicide.) It lists his father's occupation as "Sea Captain". It lists the Informant as Lily Hawkins, cousin. This is most likely Lilian (nee Richards), daughter of Benjamin Richards who was Jane Ann's brother. Louis was never mentioned in family circles or records and, I assume, that was because of the belief that suicide was a mortal sin. When I found Louis' birth certificate, it lists his father as a "Pilot". This indicated to me that, at that time, he may have been Piloting ships up and down the Australian East Coast. An intriguing thing was that this certificate also lists the "Previous Issue" as "2 boys living" and the mother as informant. However, at that time, I had found no third child, only John George William and Louis Charles. I realised that it was possible that, as Jane, at times, travelled with him on the ship, a third child may have been born at sea or in New Caledonia and not recorded in Australia (particularly if, for reasons shown below, he wished to stay clear of Sydney for a few years). It gives the father's age as 35, mother as 25 and that both parents came from Cornwall, England. This put an end to the speculation that John Oliver was French. (One interesting possibility is the story that one of the Oliver’s came to Western Australia. Since I came over here I have been told by one Oliver family that they only have to look at me and their photo albums to know that we are somehow connected. Looks aside, I haven’t found any connection . . . as yet! I have often wondered, as John and Elizabeth [nee Woods] Swarbrick, who were obviously very close friends of JGW and Sarah Oliver [nee Woods], brought their family west around 1900.) John Oliver appears variously as a seaman, ship’s captain, master mariner, and pilot (a pilot in those days usually referred to a ship’s captain who plied the east coast of Australia). John vanished from our history around 1860 and it was understood that he went down with his ship on one of the journeys he made back and forth to the South Pacific Islands.

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