The name is likely to have
come from the French Olivier, 'maker or seller of olive oil', and it became widespread
through the influence of the Norse name Olaf. It is first recorded in Scotland in the 12th
century. Olivers were a powerful family in the Borders.
OLIVER: The name is found throughout the British Isles, including Ireland and into France, where it came from 'Olivier' (Old French) = olive producer / merchant, with probable origins in Normandy. Genealogical or geographical evidence would be required to establish a Scottish ancestry. The Old Norse name 'Oleifr' is also given as a source, particularly in Shetland. The earliest mention in the Scottish records is of Walter Olifer, a witness to William I's gift of a serf to the Bishop of Glasgow about 1180. Tradition asserts a common ancestry, or early link, with the Frasers, also of Norman origin, who, though formerly a Border family, are now more associated with the Highlands. Oliver, son of Gilbert de Fraser, built their early seat of Oliver Castle in Tweedale about 1230, but whether this Oliver was the same man, or a kinsman of Oliver, Abbot of Dryburgh in the 1260s cannot be ascertained. The Castle was held in 1266 by Sir Simon Fraser whose son, in 1314, fought for Bruce at Bannockburn. There no evidence of the Olivers moving north when many Frasers went thence, and only on the basis of long past association can they be said to have any affiliation with that clan. Similarities in name, origin, and the vagaries of spelling in early documents have confused many Olivers with Oliphants, and thus, many records of one may in fact refer to the other, particularly in areas outwith the Borderland, notably Perthshire, where many Oliphants settled. The name Knowles, often equated with Knox in Aberdeenshire, is elsewhere promoted as a form of Oliver, and though no association is here advanced it is interesting to note that the Frasers of Philorth have similar territorial association from an early date. In the 16th century, continuing raids and counter raids across the borders left many families, including the Olivers, little choice but to survive by plunder, and in 1527, the Earl of Angus, then in 'control' of his step-son, the young King James V, used the Scots Army to curb the adventurers, thereby appeasing his wife, the Dowager Queen Margaret Tudor and her countrymen over the English Border. No Chief is identified for the Olivers so the Fraser Badge and Motto are appropriate.
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.