Recorded in many forms including Olave, Olive, Olivia, Olivie, Olivet, Olivey, Olliff, Olliffe, Ollive, this is a surname recorded throughout Europe. It is a Crusader 12th century name, (see below), the derivation being from the Roman (Latin) word "oliva", meaning the olive tree and its fruit, and hence was originally given to a person who owned an orchard. Since ancient times the olive has been regarded as a symbol of peace, and legend links the olive branch with Noah and the Dove - a symbol of God's reconcilation with man after the Great Flood. The Italian Saint Oliva, whose feast day falls on June 3rd, is regarded as the patroness of olive crops. The personal name is first recorded in England as Olyve, in the registers known as the catalogue of ancient deeds for the county of Northumberland in 1159, and it mainly owes its popularity to the Crusaders. These people on their return from the always unsuccessful task of trying to free the Holy Land from the Muslims, gave 'biblical' names to their children in honour of the father's deeds. In this case early examples of the surname recording include: Margaret Olive in the Hundred Rolls of Shropshire, for the year 1273, Jacques Olivie recorded at the Huguenot French church, Threadneedle Street, in the city of London, on April 25th 1630, Maria Eliza Olivia who was christened at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on August 1st 1797, and John Olivey married Elizabeth Cumbes at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on June 20th 1852. Throughout the centuries surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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