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Oliver Lines of Descent from Olivers in the Caroline County Region of Virginia

This web page was first mounted on August 6, 2007 by Sheila Schmutz. sheila.schmutz@usask.ca and updated on April 5, 2014.


This is a private webpage that has no "official" connection to FTDNA or the Oliver Surname Y DNA Project there, or at any other such company. Please address corrections and additions to her. If you wish to correspond with other participants whose lines are shown, she will forward your message to them.

The results of the Oliver men who have participated in Y DNA testing through this project are shown on the new website for the Oliver Y DNA project.

This webpage focuses only on the men who are highlighted in bright yellow among the many Oliver men who have been tested thus far. A couple other Oliver men also match the bright yellow group tested by FTDNA. They were tested by another company, or joined through the National Geographic Genographic project, or simply chose to remain independent of this surname project. Some of their lines of descent are partially shown on this page since the more men that are included, the more complete the story of our ancestry.

Thanks to the men who donated their DNA for this purpose. Thanks also to their family genealogists who have provided much of the information available on the webpage. These are often sisters, mothers, wives, and female cousins who can not donate Y DNA but provide support through their genealogical research.

When the first matches were detected in spring 2007, none of the four persons knew they were related. Subsequently a few more Oliver men have been tested and we encourage more men to be tested! Given that they share a common ancestor many generations back, it is not surprising at all, that they didn't know they were related. Finding their common ancestor has not been straightforward and these lines may have errors, particularly in the early years. I have attempted to code the drawing to indicate the level of evidence. The gedcom files with notes indicating the references used is available on WorldConnect in a group file entitled GaOlivers. I welcome any comments and/or additions to these data.

We continue to try to find wills, deeds, and other documents for these persons from the "early years". Note that this drawing may change over time, as we accumulate more data. If you believe you are related to one of these branches and have data to share, please send it to us, even if you are not named "Oliver". These records help all of us!

Note that the number of participants has increased and therefore the chart is now shown in two rows, not just one. The top row of men all have clear lines of descent to John & Ellinor Oliver of Caroline Co, VA. The men in the second row may well also descend from them but their connection is not yet established by printed records.

Note that the names of the participants and their Fathers are not shown to protect the privacy of the individuals. If individuals do not wish their line to be shown at all, please contact me and I will respect your wishes.


The chart above illustrates the lines of men who have been Y DNA tested and match. Since charts are not searchable, selected lines are also summarized below. Individuals in green have a webpage with additional data (click on their name below to access the page).

It is believed that John Oliver, born about 1676 in Virginia, married his wife Ellinor about 1701 in land that became Caroline Co, VA in 1727 when that county was formed. In 1701, he received a land grant in St. John's Parish in the region now Caroline County, according to research by Gene Ballantine Rooks. His will, and many early records were lost or destroyed. Administration records show that Ellinor Oliver, his widow, was granted administration of his estate on Feb. 10, 1748. Various research suggest their children included Nicholson b. 1704, James b. 1710, Ellinor b. 1718, Peter b. 1724, and John b. 1725.

The son of John and Ellinor, John Oliver III married Sarah. They moved to Johnston County, NC by 1760. We believe that they had a son named Henry who married Lucretia Pearce ad in turn, they had a son named Henry who married Winifred Ingram. However, a descendant of Henry and Winifred believe he was the son, not the grandson, based on land inheritance. Henry Oliver who married Lucretia Pearce owned land a short distance from John Oliver III. 67222 is a descendant of theirs. Other sons included Stephen, John IV, Thomas, and Mitchell. Daughters included Elizabeth and Elliner.

Another son of John and Ellinor was Nicholson Oliver. He is often listed as born in King William County, but the northern part of that county became Caroline County later. He married Miss Durrett about 1729. One of their sons was given her maiden name. Durrett Oliver was born about 1734 in Caroline County, VA and died bef 1771 in Orange County, VA. Although he did not leave a will, there is a partial inventory of his estate that mentions his wife Tabitha and their children. 95203 descends from his line. Another son, Richard Oliver moved to land that was in Caswell County or Person County, NC, since the county lines changed.

James Oliver may be another son of John and Sarah. He died after Feb. 23, 1787 in Amelia County, Virginia and may be the ancestor of one or more of the lines in the chart above. Many researchers suggest that his wife was Elizabeth Snu, although I have not found documentation for her name. He is not shown on the chart.

It is likely that John Clemence Oliver who was born in or near Nottaway County in 1806 was the grandson of Margaret Clemments who married John Bradshaw. Their daughter Sally married John Oliver in VA. John Clemence Oliver is the ancestor of Mr. 130810 Oliver. A website by Frank Griggs has more infomration about his descendants. It is possible that he descends from one of at least two sons of James & Elizabeth Oliver who moved to Nottaway County, VA. Isaac Oliver, Sr. was born about 1745 and died in Nottoway Co. in 1799 and left a will naming his children. He was married to Judith Betts who lived until at least 1810. Richard Oliver was born about 1740 and died before 1810 in Nottaway Co, VA also. He was married to Mary Jennings.

In "Sketches of the Olivers" Margaret and the late Hugh Oliver suggest that there was a John Oliver who had sons John and William who lived in Clark Co, KY. It is on this basis that I have drawn them with dashed lines. William Oliver and his wife Sarah, had a son Elijah Turner Oliver who was born 27 Aug 1803 in Kentucky, but moved to IN, then IL, then IA and died 11 Mar 1881 in Union County, Oregon. Descendants of two sons of Elijah, Hiram Wesley Oliver and Joseph E. Oliver have been tested (82230 and 99332). John Oliver married Nancy Woodkirk and one of their sons was Turner Oliver. He was born about 1810 in Clark County, KY and moved to Wayne Co, IN as a young man where he married Nancy Hendrix on 17 Jan 1828. The descendant of this line was tested through the National Geographic Y DNA project. We are all intrigued about the Turner connection suggested by his descendant named Elijah Turner Oliver and a suspected nephew named Turner Oliver. Was Turner the name of a maternal ancestor or good family friend or ???

Other Oliver families also lived in Clark Co, KY during this period who are apparently not related. Brothers Richard and Isaac married to Conkwright sisters and their descendants belong to the Indigo Group.

Benjamin Oliver, Sr. was born in VA and died in 1809 in Warren Co., GA. He and his wife Sarah, had two sons whose descendants have been tested. Benjamin Oliver, Jr. was born about 1780 in VA. He married Nancy Rose on March 7, 1802 in Warren Co., GA. They moved to Jones Co., GA and had 3 sons and 2 daughters. Mr. 86812 Oliver descends from this line. Benjamin Sr. also had a son, Robert V. Oliver, who was born about 1785 in VA. He married Patience Pitts on July 16, 1805 in Warren Co. GA. They moved to Mississippi by 1820 and then to Shelby County, TN. Mr. 93619 Oliver descends from this line.

There was a William Oliver who was born about 1688, not shown on the chart. He was a member of St. Margaret's Parish in 1757. A manuscript entitled: "The Oliver Family" by Dorothey Haizlip Ward, 1990, states "William Oliver, Ursilla Oliver and Thomas Oliver were very involved with a case that involved Rice Williams which not only gives the age of those providing evidence, but also information on the Williams family. This was held 9 July 1752." The Ursilla Oliver is thought to be his wife, formerly Ursilla Eisley. Their sons William who married Ann, and John are shown on the 1783 tax list of Caroline County, VA. Their younger brother Thomas was not. We would be very interested in the Y DNA results of a descendant of this family. Please email me if you know of someone who would be willing to offer his DNA.


I have attempted to outline the area in yellow on a map drawn to reflect the region in the 1600's that eventually became Caroline County and its neighboring counties.

Caroline County (Crn) was created from the northern parts of King and Queen County (K Q), King William County (KW), and Essex County (Es) in 1727. The boundary between King and Queen County and Caroline County was again redrawn in 1762 establishing the present day borders. "Colonial Caroline, A History of Caroline County, Virginia by T. E. Campbell in 1953 gives more detail about the names of the districts and counties for the land that became Caroline County.

See also http://historical-county.newberry.org/website/Virginia/viewer.htm for an interactive map of county boudaries at any particular date.

This map of Virginia shows the county boundaries at the present time. The county boundaries changed often in the pre-1800 period and therefore we need to consider records in Spotsylvania County, Louisa County, King William County, King and Queen County, Hannover County, and Essex County, as well as Caroline County. Sadly the courthouses in several of these counties have suffered losses and many court, land, and marriage records have been lost. The first official federal census occurred in 1810. Tax and tithables lists are available for some areas from about 1780.


Ancestral Country of Origin

Y DNA Haplogroups

According to research done on Y DNA marker sets, by researchers in Ireland and others, letters were assigned to groups of haplotypes that were similar. R1b is such a group and men with this "haplogroup" usually had ancestors in Western Europe. The Oliver men in this bright yellow group have this haplotype. Other Oliver men in the Y DNA project have had other haplogroups such as "I". Typically ancestors of such men came from central Europe or had Viking ancestry, but they may have gone via the British Isles first of course.

Note that the more markers that are tested the more precise the information can become. Essentially this means that it is less likely that unrelated men would share that same set of markers. If data on only the basic 12 markers are available, there is much more chance that several men would have that set of markers. This is why we can we verify or confirm genealogy, but do NOT PROVE it. Unless every man was tested, we can not say that there is not another man somewhere with the same set of markers who might be our ancestor instead of the man who our historical and genealogical research lead us to believe was our ancestor.

Conversely the first 12 markers chosen by FTDNA typically provide all the information most people want. The common question pertaining to genealogy is do two men from different lines of descent from one ancestor have the same Y DNA markers. If the answer is yes or almost, then it is higly likely that their genealogy and their biology coincide or match.

Several men have had 37 markers tested and this strengthens our match very much. Amongst all of us, there has been only one difference detected so far which suggests that there was one mutation in one of the men in that line.

Oliphant Match

A Mr. #8 Oliphant has also been tested and matches 35-36 of the 37 markers to the men in this group. The Oliphant Y DNA Project at Family Tree DNA Apparently the Oliver name and Oliphant, Olivent, etc. are considered derivative names. The Clan Oliphant also discusses the families of Oliver that were related to some Oliphant families and therefore part of their clan in times long past. Our "bright yellow group" matches one Mr. Oliphant and the men in the "Orange Group of Three" match another Mr. Oliphant.

Hodges and Nix Matches

The Oliver men in this group have close matches to several men named Hodges or Nix. The line of Hodges that matches us at 23 of 25 markers descends from a man in Kent, England. Is this a clue that our ancestor came from the Kent region of England too?

NEW One of the participants in this group has done additional testing. A SNP called P132 suggests that the ancestors of these Olivers came from northern England. A man named Nix also has this P132 marker.


Other Oliver Groups in Virginia and Georgia

Turquoise Group

There is another line of Oliver whose ancestor harkens from Caroline County, VA and is not related to our Oliver families. Marshall Oliver is a match to the Oliver men in the Turquoise Group in the Oliver Y DNA project. One descendant (13316) of Joseph Oliver who died in Charlotte Co, VA in 1786 states he lived in King William County, VA earlier. Since Caroline County was formed from part of King William in 1727, this would fit with Marshall living in Caroline County.

There is another line of Oliver with some ancestors from Georgia. Although for some time I believed my ancestor might descend from Charles Oliver of Georgia, Y DNA helped confirm this was not the case. the Magenta Group in the Oliver Y DNA project.


Useful References

Links to Websites Related to this Oliver Group

  • Oliver Families with Connections to Georgia and/or the Bright Yellow Group in the Oliver Y DNA Project Gedcom with sources developed in support of the lines shown here.
  • Links to Other Related Sites

    Printed Oliver References


    Aims and Limitations of this Webpage

    In the spring of 2007, several people interested in the genealogy of these Oliver families began corresponding about confirming the genealogical data many people have both individually and jointly collected. I will do my best to update the page periodically, using the information posted on public websites.

    FTDNA provides estimates of the average MAXIMUM distance to a common ancestor based on the number of markers that are different between two men, or alternatively on the cumulative number differences across the markers. The microsatellie markers chosen for testing by these various companies are prone to mutation and that's why they work well for studies of migration and genealogy. Microsatellite markers are runs of repeats - 12, 13, 14 CT or AG in a row, for example. Occasionally a microsatellite will not occur in an individual and this is called a null allele. It only takes a single deletion to eliminate a microsatellite and so a score of 0 is really of no greater significance than a difference of 12 and 13. Both types of mutation have been seen in Y DNA studies.

    One should not expect to take these estimates of distance literally in a specific family. A mutation happens, when it happens. This can be between a father and his son, even though the estimated distance stated on the FTDNA charts is much longer than a single generation.

    Participants should participate with the full knowledge that they may find out that they do not match the ancestor they expected to. This can be a heart wrenching experience. Many families have adopted children over the years and these adoptions were not openly discussed in some periods, as they are now. Giving the child the name of its adopted family was considered the norm and a sign of the strong esteem in which the child was held. Also see this excellent webpage on "paternity events".


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