Recorded in over one hundred spelling forms including Oliver, Olivier, and Olver (English and Scottish), Olive, Olivier, Ollivier (French), Oliva, Olivo, Oliverio, Livieri, Uliveri, Veiri, Vieri, Vieiro (Italy), Olivas, Olivera (Spain & Portugal) and recorded throughout Europe in localised spellings, this is a surname of either Ancient Greek or Roman origins. However spelt it has always been symbolically associated with the olive tree and in particular as an original baptismal name, the olive branch, the emblem of peace. The name was popular throughout Europe in the pre Middle Ages, being borne as Oliverus by one of Emperor Charlemagne's knights, and a friend of Roland in the 9th century. The name as the baptismal "Oliverus" was recorded in the English Domesday Book of 1086, whilst perhaps surprisingly the first known recording as a surname in any spelling and in any country is that of Walter Olifer, a charter witness in Scotland in the year 1180. Other very early examples of the surname include Jordanus Oliueri, in the Pipe Rolls of Cornwall, England, in 1206, whilst John Oliver appears in the charters of Soltre Hospital, Scotland in 1250. Perhaps the most interesting nameholder was Lawrence Olivier, later Lord Olivier, 1906 - 1988, the world famous Shakespearean actor. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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