"Each has his own tree of ancestors, but at the top of all sits Probably Arboreal." - Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

George Harold Oliver

Another day, another fascinating discovery from my family tree!
Continuing with work on my descendancy of Joseph Bryan Geoghegan, I went back to the marriage of George Harold Oliver and Ellen Christina Bennett to see whether I could come up with any children. I had found them living in Derby in 1911, with George Oliver listed as a motor mechanic. There were no children given, but the couple will still very young and had only married the previous September so it wasn’t too surprising. Derby wasn’t a surprise either, as this was where the marriage record tells me George was living at the time of his marriage. However, he was apparently born in Pendleton, c. 1887.
I first went to the birth index to search for Oliver children with mother’s maiden name Bennett, but predictably there weren’t any strong leads. One possibility appeared for Derby, which I made a note of, but beyond that there were multiple options, including strong leads in Stoke-On-Trent, which left me wondering whether the family connection in the area had continued with the Olivers.
So, I decided I would Google Ellen and George, and see whether there was anything that might help me. The first thing that came up for George Harold Oliver was this Wikipedia entry. I clicked on it, not really expecting it to be remotely relevant. The first sentence reads:
George Harold Oliver QC (24 November 1888 – 22 September 1984) was a British engineer, barrister and politician who was for a longtime Member of Parliament (MP) for Ilkeston and served briefly as a junior government minister.
I thought, well the birth date is close, and Ilkeston is in Derbyshire. I read on.
Oliver was born in Bolton and educated at Holy Trinity School in the town. He became an engineer working as a gear cutter for Rolls Royce, and when the works were moved to Derby, he moved with them.
Bingo! It all made sense – age, occupation, move from Lancashire to Derby. I will need to verify the place of birth – Wikipedia says Bolton, while George himself says Pendelton on the census. I think he may well have grown up in Bolton, as did Ellen, but I’m more inclined to support his personal claim of a Pendleton birthplace than Wikipedia’s unsupported statement.
So, my great-great-grandmother Mabel’s cousin Ellen Christina Bennett married future Labour MP George Harold Oliver. They had perhaps met following the marriage of Ellen’s mother Annie Bennett née Birchall Geoghegan in 1903. They would have been around 15 years old at this time.
 His career was that of a moderately successful junior minister, and I enjoyed reading about some of the causes he supported, including a 1932 motion for a national minimum wage. He also initiated a debate on the development of civilian air transport, which perhaps contributed to me being able to fly off to sunnier climes for my holidays! He retrained as a Trade Union lawyer (hence the QC) in 1927. At the 1931 general election, he lost his seat by only two votes – the equal closest election result during universal franchise.
However, my favourite snippet was this:
In February 1952 he was chosen to be one of the members of the House of Commons to call on the Queen Mother to extend Parliament's condolences on the death of King George VI.
He met the Queen Mother – albeit under rather sad circumstances. It’s my first (and very distant) genealogical brush with royalty!
All of this seems to confirm that George and thus presumably Ellen stayed in the Derby area at least until around 1965, when George stood down from parliament. So, I conjecture that they only had the one child.  A scan of Ancestry’s suggested connections confirms this, and the most detailed tree appears to suggest that their child is still living, so I won’t go any further on that subject for now, though I’ll be tracing it as far as I can for my own purposes.
George Oliver lived to be 95, dying in 1984, just a year before I was born.
L x

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