The Oliver Connection

When Thomas Oliver, alias Stanley, was removed from Downton, Wiltshire to Landford, in the same county, in the winter of 1784, his use of the alias confirmed his parentage, and probably his mother’s maiden name as well.

Thomas had been baptised at Landford on 28th November 1762, the son of Richard and Elizabeth Stanley. Richard was the grandson of Hercules and Parthenia Stanley, and had been baptised in 1738, the son of yet another Richard and Millicent, at Farnham in Surrey. The younger Richard and his wife particularly favoured Wiltshire and baptised several of their children there, as well as in Berkshire and Hampshire.

Their first known child, Priscilla, was baptised in 1759 at Market Lavington, Wiltshire, the daughter of Richard Stanley, a Gypsy; the came Elizabeth, named for her mother, and baptised at Mildenhall, in the same county in 1761; Thomas in Landford; Melissa/Amelia/Milly at Aldermaston, Berkshire, in 1765; Rhoda, back in Wiltshire in 1769 and a Richard Oliver Stanley at Allington, Wiltshire in 1771. The addition of the surname Oliver in this baptism does suggest that his mother had been an Oliver before her union with Richard Stanley, and the removal order for Thomas Oliver, alias Stanley, surely confirms this hypothesis.

When the partnerships formed have been informal, rather than legal, it can be an enormous bonus to be able to identify the wife’s family lines through other means. Richard and Elizabeth had several more children, including Valentine Stanley, baptised in Hampshire in 1775, but dying at about three years of age and buried in Berkshire; Vashti, baptised in Berkshire in 1778; Teressia, baptised in the same county in 1783 and probably the Joshua/Joseph Stanley born c1784, possibly also a William in 1787.

Unions with the Coopers, who often used the alias White, included daughters Melissa/Amelia/Milly Stanley and Rhoda Stanley, who married Richard Cooper/White, as well as Joshua Stanley, who married a Rhoda Cooper, and perhaps the William Stanley who wed Sophia Cooper. In addition Teressia formed a partnership with Matthew Broadway, son of John and Eleanor Broadway, who may well have been a Stanley herself before her marriage to John, and Elizabeth, baptised at Mildenhall, married a Peter Aires/Ayres at South Marston, Wiltshire. The Ayres tribe married into the Stanleys a number of times, and Peter Ayres was probably descended from a Stanley/Ayres union.

An Anslow Stanley who married a Trinity Oliver in Worcestershire in 1821, may have been using his mother’s surname, and be a grandson, not a son, of Richard Stanley and Elizabeth Oliver. It is likely that Trinity is the daughter of the Richard Oliver Stanley, baptised in 1771, and therefore another grandchild. These unions reflect the very close connections between major Gypsy families that continued down the generations.

Searching out Elizabeth Oliver’s family is almost impossible, given the early date and the very common name, but she is likely to have been born about 1740, and may, like her son Thomas, turn up in a removal record – eventually.