Recorded in many spelling forms including Oliva, Olivares, Olives, Oliveras, Olivera, Oliveres, and the locational D'Olivera and De Olivera, this is a southern European surname, and most strongly associated with Spain and the Iberian Peninsula. Like the surnames Oliver and Olivier it has two possible origins. The first is a development of the ancient Roman (Latin) 'oliva', which was originally a metonymic for a maker or merchant of olive oil. The second possible origin is Germanic, as the Germans through the Vizigoth tribe ruled Spain for several centuries until expelled in about the year 800 a.d. The (now) popular Spanish surname Alvares or Alvarez is derived from the early German name 'Alvaro'. This was originally a pre 5th century compound comprised of the elements 'All' meaning 'the people' and 'wer' - true, the true people. Not surprisingly this was a very popular name in the period, and from it developed short forms and nicknames such as Olive and Vera. Its probable effect on the later (Oliva and Oliver) surnames should not be discounted. Early examples of the surname recording include Nicholas De Olivera at Santa Maria Magdalena, Valladolid, Spain, on February 12th 1603, Pons Olivar at Alayor, Baleares, On December 11th 1614, and Maria Oliveras, at Olot, Gerona, on October 5th 1677. Sanches Olivares was christened at Caudet, Albacete, Spain, on December 27th 1720, and Gonzales Oliva, at Santa Ana, Cadiz, on July 22nd 1779. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Oliva, which was dated 1207, the Curia Regis rolls of the city of Worcester, England, during the reign of King John of England, known as 'Lackland', 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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