Family Tree of the Adlers, Edwardses, Hogans, Lipscombes and Olivers

Alexander Joseph Oliver (1825 - 1873), and Christy Turnbull (1822 - 1854)

Alexander Oliver
Born: c.1773, Cavers, Roxb., Scotland

Agnes Ferguson
Born: c.1788, Cavers, Roxb., Scotland

Alexander Joseph OLIVER
Born: 1825, Denholm, Roxburghshire, Scotland
Died: 7 Mar 1873, Melbourne, Vic, Australia
Buried: 10 Mar 1873, Melbourne General Cemetery, Vic, Australia


1st family  2nd family  
Ralph Oliver
Born: 19th c.
Died: bef. 1854, Scotland

Margaret Oliver
Died: bef. 1854, Scotland

  Christy TURNBULL
Born: c.1822, Selkirkshire, Scotland
Died: bef. 1854, Scotland

A.J. Oliver
Source: Birth - marriage certificate [AL]. Death - Death certificate [AL]. Burial - Melbourne Cemetery Index [AL].

C. Turnbull
Source: Birth - 1851 Scotland census [AL].  

Story: Alexander Joseph Oliver (1825 - 1873)

From Arthur Lipscombe, added to this site 28 Jun 2008

Alexander Oliver and Lucy Rutson, where and what did they come from?

Alexander Joseph Oliver (AJO) was born in about 1825 in Denholm in the parish of Cavers in Roxburghshire on the south-eastern border of Scotland (about half way between the towns of Hawick and Jedburgh, about 5 or 6 miles from each). Cavers House was the name of the local squire's seat, Cavers was the name of a hamlet close to that seat, and the name of the parish. The parish was long and narrow with most of it being unpopulated hilly upland country, used for forestry and sheep in the 19th century. The parish followed the river Teviot and the eastern end is flatter lowland country used for farming - this is where the village of Denholm and the hamlet Cavers are situated.

Denholm, founded in 1664, was a planned village (rather than one that just grew by itself over time) and was basically 3 streets around a large village green, the 4th side of the green being the main road from Jedburgh to Hawick. It is now a conservation area. In the mid 19th century about 1700 people lived there. The older parish church, now in disrepair, was at Cavers about 3 miles away, but a newer Presbyterian Free Church was built at Denholm in 1844, funded by the villagers - AJO may well have contributed blocks of stone and worked on the church himself.

At the time of Scotland's first census in 1841, the 15 year old AJO was an apprentice mason living in Denholm in a house whose head was a Margaret Baird (50 yo) with James Brooks (15) another apprentice mason and Joseph Drummond (20) journeyman mason. Also in the house were Betsy Oliver (20) and John Oliver (10) - there appears no way to determine how these two are related to AJO. The major non-agricultural industry in the village was quarrying. The quarry was on a farmer's land up a steep hill (called Rubeslaw) about a mile from the village, and each day the masons would trudge up the hill to square the blocks of stone which were then carted to local building projects.

At the next census in 1851, AJO, now a fully qualified mason, is living in a cottage alone with his first wife Christy nee Turnbull, who was born in neighbouring Selkirkshire. His second marriage certificate (to Lucy Rutson in Melbourne) states he was a widower, and his death certificate states that his first 2 children, both dead at the time of his death were Ralph and Margaret. It appears that between the 1851 census and his emigration to Melbourne in 1853, both children were born and Christy died. There had been an outbreak of cholera in the village in 1849, and perhaps there were still cases of the disease in the following decade.

In 1851 his parents, Alexander (78) and Agnes (63, nee Ferguson), were living in Dean Lodge in the hamlet of Cavers with their youngest? son William (17) who was also a mason. Alexander (father) is listed in the census as an agricultural labourer, and in AJO's 2nd marriage certificate he is said to be a forester.

Looking for a fresh start after the death of his young wife, AJO, aged 29, arrived in Melbourne aboard the ship Mooresfort in January 1854, as an unassisted passenger. The ship carried about 400 passengers and was servicing the burgeoning colony's growth - the population expanding astronomically as a result of the gold rush, and much of Melbourne being 'tent city'. He was the only Oliver traveling on the Mooresfort, and no Fergusons were aboard. I found the following on the internet:

"The ship was the Mooresfort which was a new sailing ship operated by the White Star Line. The 1220 ton ship carried 479 passengers to Melbourne on a trip generally of several months duration. The ship departed Liverpool, England on 17 October 1853, and the ships master is a H.Culthurst, and agent J.Redfern. The Argus newspaper of 14 January 1854 records 461 passengers being in the Intermediate, and two families being in the cabins."

Lucy Rutson (LR) was born in Harrow Weald, Middlesex, near to Harrow, north east of London, about 15 miles from the centre of the city. Her parents were Joseph Rutson and Charlotte nŽe Brown. She was christened on 2 Jan 1831 in nearby Great Stanmore, then a village, which is now on the outskirts of the built up area of London. Two sisters Jane and Emma were also christened in Great Stanmore.

She was 10 yo at the time of the 1841 census, living with her mother Charlotte (33) and sister Emma (12) in a house in Brixton, south central London, together with a family named Adams. LR's father Joseph is not recorded as being in the house on census night, nor is her eldest sister Jane, born 1827. There is no reference to a Joseph Rutson near London in the 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses, and the mother Charlotte Rutson is not found after 1841. Maybe he was already dead in 1841 and Charlotte remarried at some stage.

In the 1851 census LR, now 20, is back at Little Stanmore, the only Rutson living in the house of a grocer named Dawborn with his wife and young family, probably as a servant.

She arrived in Melbourne on board the Sea King, a deep water sloop, with about 350 other passengers, landing on 15 May 1855, after departing Southampton on 20 February 1855, as an assisted passenger, the only Rutson on board. Women of marriageable age were scarce in the colonies and their immigration was encouraged.

The two had arrived in a rapidly expanding town with unmade roads, extremely high prices, scarce accommodation and of poor standard, but with plenty of work for a tradesman like AJO. LR (23) and AJO (30) came from very different backgrounds and churches, and when they first met would probably have to consciously talk slowly and clearly to be able to understand each other. AJO overcame any competition and they were married in Collingwood on 29/3/1856, 10 months after LR's arrival, "according to the forms of the Presbyterian Church". AJO was resident in Collingwood, and LR in Richmond, both newly established working-class suburbs. Alexander's signature on the marriage record shows he had rather a heavy hand with a nib pen - not the kind of implement his hand was most used to.

Their first child, a daughter Charlotte Agnes, named after both her grandmothers, died as an infant and is buried in the same grave as her parents. Their second, Alexander Joseph, had the names of his father and both grandfathers. The third, William George Ralph, bears the names of 2 of AJO's known brothers. Lastly Robert Hamilton - Robert was a fairly popular first name in Denholm around that time, and Hamilton is a Scottish surname, but I have found no connection between Hamiltons and Olivers in the Denholm records.

AJO continued in his trade as a stonemason in Melbourne. Family tradition has it that he carved the gravestone for his daughter Charlotte, which is the grave in which he himself and his wife were later buried. By 1873 they had moved to a new house in Reilly St, north Collingwood (later to be renamed Reilly Parade, and then Alexandra Parade) at the time the area was first being built on. In 1876 there were a few dozen houses in about a kilometer of Reilly St. Up until 1871 an A. Oliver had been resident for some years in Hoddle St, Collingwood.

AJO died of chronic hepatitis on 7/3/1873, aged 48, at his house in Reilly St. AJO's death was reported by his cousin Walter Ferguson (a grocer, living in Vere St, Collingwood), so there was at least one member of his extended family in Melbourne at the time of his death. AJO's sons' ages were: Alexander - 11, William - 6, and Robert - 4. The eldest probably had opportunity to learn something about AJO's background, but the 2 younger ones would have precious little knowledge of him.

LR died 4 years later on 21/12/1877 of vascular disease of the heart, aged 45 years. Her death was reported by a friend Elizabeth Marshall, who lived in Carlton. Alexander was 14, William 11, and Robert 8. What happened to them next is no longer known, but at least their father's cousin was around to make arrangements for them. AJO and LR are buried in Melbourne General Cemetery together with their daughter Charlotte Agnes.

In a few years Alexander would be able to work and fend for himself. There appears to be no record of his marriage or death in Victoria. William married Martha Hazelton and between 1889 and 1892 moved to the Wimmera district, close to where his brother Robert had married in 1886. There does not appear to be any record of William's or Martha's deaths in Victoria, or the deaths of any of their children. The whole family seems to have moved out of Victoria at some time after 1900, perhaps close to William's brother Alexander. After his marriage, Robert lived for the rest of his life in north-western Victoria.

Of AJO's six children and LR's four, at least two of them left progeny to multiply and enjoy the opportunities, warmth and relative freedom of this colony at the farthest point on the earth from where they originated. A colony that had exploded from modest beginnings in a frenzy in the space of a few decades, during their lives and those of their surviving children.


  • Death certificates of AJO and LR
  • Marriage certificate of AJO and LR
  • Old Parish Registers (prior to 1855) of Scotland
  • English and Scottish censuses
  • The International Genealogical Index at
  • Roxburghshire and Middlesex pages at
  • Parts of 'Denholm: a history of the village' by Margaret Sellars, quoted at
  • Assisted and unassisted passenger lists at Public Record Office Victoria
  • Post office directories of Melbourne published by Sands and MacDougall
  • Melbourne General Cemetery index

Alexander Oliver, with his son Robert Hamilton Oliver, circa 1870

Alexander Oliver, with his son Robert Hamilton Oliver, circa 1870

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