Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Oliver, Richard

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OLIVER, RICHARD (1734?–1784), politician, the only surviving son of Rowland Oliver, a puisne judge of the court of common pleas of the Leeward Islands, and grandson of Richard Oliver, speaker of the house of Assembly in Antigua, was baptised in St. John's, Antigua, on 7 Jan. 1734-6. At an early age he was sent, to London, where he entered the office of his uncle, Richard Oliver, a West India merchant. He took up his freedom in the Drapers' Company on 29 June 1770, and on 4 July following was elected alderman of Billingsgate ward. At a by-election a few days afterwards he was returned to the House of Commons for the city of London, which he continued to represent until the dissolution of parliament in September 1780. On 6 Dec. 1770 Oliver seconded Serjeant Glynn's motion for a committee to inquire into the administration of criminal justice (Parl. Hist. xvi. 1215-7).

In March 1771 he became engaged in the famous struggle between the city and the House of Commons [see Crosby, Brass], and was committed to the Tower by order of the speaker on the 20th of that month (ib. xvii. 155). On 6 April he was brought up on a writ of habeas corpus before Lord Mansfield, who declined to interfere, as parliament was still sitting. A similar application was made on his behalf to the court of exchequer on 30 April, with the same want of success. The parliamentary session, however, closed on 8 May, when Oliver and Crosby were released from the Tower, and conducted in a triumphal procession to the Mansion House. Though formerly an active supporter of Wilkes, Oliver refused to serve as sheriff with him in 1771 (Gent. Mag. 1771, p. 189), and was elected to that office with Watkin Lewes on 1 July 1772. The friends of Wilkes were so enraged at the election of Townshend as lord mayor in this year that they appear to have accused Oliver ' of having taken the vote of the court before their party had arrived ' (Fitzmaurice, Life of William, Earl of Sherburne, 18751876, ii. 289). On 26 Jan. 1773 Oliver spoke in favour of Sawbridge's motion for leave to bring in a bill for shortening the duration of parliaments (Parl. Hist. xvii. 692-5), and on 1 Feb. 1775 he seconded a similar motion (ib. xviii. 216). On 27 Nov. 1775 his proposed address to the king respecting 'the original authors and advisers' of the measures against the American colonies was defeated by 163 votes to 10 (ib. xviii. 1005-7, 1021). His name appears for the last time in the 'Parliamentary History' on 10 May 1776, when he seconded Sawbridge's resolution that the American colonies should 'be continued upon the same footing of giving and granting their money^ as his Majesty's subjects in Ireland are, by their own representatives' (ib. xviii. 1353). Oliver resigned his gown at a court of aldermen held at Guildhall on 25 Nov. 1778, and shortly afterwards sailed to Antigua in order to look after his West Indian estates. He died on board the Sandwich packet, while returning to England, on 16 April 1784.

Oliver married, on 2 Feb. 1758, his cousin Mary, daughter of Richard Oliver of Low Leyton, Essex, by whom he had no issue. He was elected a general of the honourable artillery company in August 1773. The silver-gilt cup which was presented to him by the livery in March 1772 ' for joining with other magistrates in the release of a freeman, who was arrested by order of the House of Commons, and in a warrant for | imprisoning the messenger who had arrested the citizen and refused to give hail,' is preserved among the corporation plate at the Mansion House. His portrait, which was painted in the Tower by R. Pine in 1772, has been engraved.

[Walpole's Memoirs of the Reign of George III, 1845, iv. 211, 291, 299-301, 307, 316-17,327-8; Chatham's Correspondence, 1838-40, iv. 121, 125-7, 129-34,138-40, 187; Woodfall's Junius, 1814, ii. 205-22, iii. 345 et seq.; Memoir of Brass Crosby, 1829; Trevelyan's Early History of C. J. Fox, 1881, pp. 339-55, 362-77; Beloe's Sexagenarian, 1818, ii. 23, 25-6; Oldmixon's British Empire in America, 1741, ii. 205, 215; Highmore's History of the Artillery Company, 1804, pp. 291-8, 303, 312; Orridge's Some Account of the Citizens of London and their Rulers, 1867, pp. 97-101, 249; Gent. Mag. 1758 p. 94, 1770 pp. 339-40. 341, 1771 pp. 139-41, 188, 233, 234, 284, 330, 1772 pp. 294, 338, 489, 492, 1776 pp. 147-8, 1778 pp. 434-5, 549, 605, 1784, pt. i. p. 395; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. iv. 67, 217; Official Return of Lists of Members of Parliament, pt. ii. pp. 140, 153.]

G. F. R. B.