Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 70

Major General Oliver, C.M.G

Major General Oliver, C.M.G.

Major General John Ryder Oliver is the eldest son of the late John Dudley Oliver, J.P. of Cherrymount (now Tigrony), in County Wicklow, Ireland, and his wife, Mary Susan, who was a daughter of the late Valentine Green, of Normanton Hall, Leicestershire. He is the head of a branch of the Olivers of Castle Oliver (now Cloghanodfoy) county Limerick, page 69 a family descended from Captain Robert Oliver, a distinguished army officer in the time of Cromwell, who received large grants of land in the south-west of Ireland in reward for his services. Several of this family were at different times members of the Irish Parliament, while others attained to a high rank in Army, Navy, and Church.

The subject of our notice was born at Ashby-de-la-Zouch Dec, 16th, 1834, and completed his education at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he obtained a mathematical scholarship. In September 1855 he was gazetted to a Lieutenancy in the Royal Artillery, having obtained a direct commission by the first competitive Army examination ever held, passing fifth out of a hundred and fifty candidates. In May, 1857 the company to which he was posted embarked in a small sailing vessel for service at the Cape of Good Hope, a voyage which did not in any way resemble the speed and luxury of the present day, A few days after the ship's arrival at Cape Town news was received of the outbreak of the Indian mutiny, and the company at once re-embarked in the Penelope, reaching Calcutta in September just as the news of the capture of Delhi was made known. Lieutenant Oliver took part in the subsequent campaigns up to March 1859, including General Windham's battles with the Gwalior contingent at Cawnpore, the battle of Cawnpore, the final siege and capture of Lucknow, the battle of Bareilly, the campaign in Rohilkund page 70 under Sir Colin Campbell, and the "final campaign in Oudh, He was mentioned in despatches, and for his services received the medal with clasp for Lucknow.

In 1860 he was appointed to a Battery of Horse Artillery, which soon afterwards returned to England, Exchanging to a Battery in India in 1863 he was attached to a newly-formed mountain Battery at Peshawur, and with it took part in the campaign in Bhotan, and was present at the capture of the strong Hill Forts of Dalimkote and Chamoorchee. He was again mentioned in despatches and received the Indian Frontier medal and clasp.

During 1865 and the following year he passed through the course at the Staff College, and afterwards as a Captain served two years at St. Helena, where, during part of the time he was specially employed by the War Office as an acting engineer, In 1869 he was recalled to England to take up the appointment of Brigade Major, RA., at Aldershot, which post he held till promoted Major in 1874. He was for several months employed on special duty at the Intelligence Department in 1876, and in the following year was appointed a Professor at the newly founded Canadian Military College. In 1886 he succeeded Colonel Hewett, C.M.G., R.E., as Commandant of that Institution, which post he retained till his final return to England in September 1888, He retired from the Service with the honorary rank page 71 of Major General in December 1887, and on the 1st of January 1889 was made a C.M.G.

On his leaving Canada many complimentary articles appeared in the leading Canadian newspapers, from one of which the following is an extract: "General Oliver's name will always be identified with the Royal Military College, He was on its staff as a professor in its day of 'feeble things.' and he has had the satisfaction of watching its growth to its present proud position. In him the qualifications necessary for successfully managing such an institution were happily blended, and it is not detracting from the credit due to other quarters to say that not a little of the success of the College during the last few years was attributable to the admirable manner in which he discharged his responsible duties. General Oliver is an accomplished scientific officer, and has a long and active military record. He resigns his position at a time when the College has secured the highest reputation at home and abroad." This is a lasting acknowledgment of services that will not be forgotten.

General Oliver is the author of some scientific text books which were drawn up for the Government of Canada, and is a member of the Alpine Club. Four of his brothers were in the army. His second brother was Major C. V. Oliver, of the 66th, who was present with his regiment at the disastrous battle of Maiwand, and shortly afterwards died at Candaban

General Oliver has been twice married—first to page 72 Georgina, daughter of the late Mr. G. Harrison, of Standground, near Peterborough; and secondly to Mary, daughter of the late Mr. W. G. Hinds, manager of the Bank of Upper Canada, Kingston.