Friday, May 31, 2013

Olney family reunion in Geelong 8 August 1999

In August 1999 there was an Olney family reunion in Geelong, Victoria to celebrate 150 years since the first Olney family came to Australia (Peter's family).  At this reunion a book, compiled by Keith R.Collyer "The Family of Charles and Martha Olney" was launched.  Then in September 1999 I went to Brisbane for the launch of a book written by Glen Petfield "The Australian Petfield Family 1888-1999" (Joy's family). At that time neither of us knew much more than who our grand parents were.  I soon became hooked and have developed quite a passion for family history.

Much of the information I will share in these Olney blogs has come from a book compiled by Keith R.Collyer "The Family of Charles and Martha Olney" in August 1999, reprinted with corrections and expanded by Joy Olney and Valmai Olney August 2006, edited by Fiona Olney-Fraser, printed and bound by Ross Olney at ROBO Marketing.
A copy of the book can be purchased by contacting Ross Olney at 

I acknowledge and give credit to the copyright work of Keith R.Collyer (desceased) in his book "The Family of Charles and Martha Olney". This extract below is from the Dedication.

"The Geelong reunion on 8 August 1999 was dedicated to Charles Olney born 1804, and his wife Martha (nee Purser) born 1806, who migrated from Pulloxhill, Bedfordshire on the "Medway" with their nine children and future son-in-law, William Rutland.  Their eldest daughter Ann was married and stayed in England.  After one hundred and two days at sea the family arrived at Point Henry near Geelong on 9 August 1849".

I have added to the blogs my own photos taken in 2007 while visiting England with family, also other family photographs taken more locally.

Descendents of  David and Louisa Olney on 8 August 1999

Descendents of David and Louisa Olney 8 August 1999

Descendents of David and Louisa Olney 8 August 1999

Olney cousins - Peter Olney, Diane Miniards, Margaret Cross, Marjorie Olney August 1999

At the reunion on 8 August 1999 I met Valmai Olney and she said there was "a difference of opinion" on some aspects of the research included in "The Family of Charles and Martha Olney" reunion book. Much of the information contained in the book came from another book "From Codicote to Carievale, The Olney Family" by A.Gordon Keys. Larry Olney from Canada had engaged A.Gordon Keys at great expense to have the Olney family researched in England, taking 4 years to have the book finally published in 1991. 

I acknowledge and give credit to the copyright work of A.Gordon Keys (desceased) in his book "From Codicote to Carivale, The Olney Family".

In 2002 I went about discovering for myself what the "difference of opinion" was by reading both books and studying Valmai Olney's Family Tree - and I found the problem!

In 2003, soon after my discovery, a number of Olneys were invited by Barbara & Ross Olney to meet Larry & Anita Olney who were visiting Australia. Peter and I were asked to have Larry & Anita stay with us.  Yes, the Larry Olney who had financed the book "From Codicote to Carievale, The Olney Family".  I took courage to show Larry the error - he was very gracious in accepting the error as it was quite obvious when pointed out. 

Ross Olney and Joy Olney went about correcting and reprinting "The Family of Charles and Martha Olney" in 2006. 

The error was basically about a James Olney christened 6 February 1748, married to Ann and a James Olney christened 2 August 1745, married to Anne French. They were mistaken to be the same person. James Olney born 1748 was the grandson of William and Sarah Brownsell, while James Olney born 1745 was the grandson of Richard and Mary Clarke. William and Richard were brothers.  Three generations later the book continues with the correct lineage from James Olney 1745 and Anne French.  Their son Francis Olney born 16 August 1778 and Elizabeth Irons had 10 children. Their second child was Charles Olney born 1804 and married to Martha Purser - the subjects of our reunion book.  

The emphasis of the book "From Codicote to Carievale, the Olney Family" was on "our William", "our Samuel", and "our James". It should have been about "our Richard, "our Richard" and "our James". Because A.Gordon Keys did so much research on the Olneys of that era, and as William and Richard were brothers, information about William and Sarah, Samuel and Sarah, James and Ann and their descendents has been included.  This helps us understand what life was like in those days.

The following extract is from "The Family of Charles and Martha Olney" compiled by Keith R.Collyer and found in the Dedication.
"Charles was accidentally shot on 10 April 1868 at age 64.  He is remembered by the sad, confident and appropriate quote from Proverbs 27 on his headstone".

"Boast not thyself of tomorrow for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth."

Charles Olney is buried under a large Peppercorn Tree at Geelong Eastern Cemetery

Charles Olney's tombstone
The following extract is from "The Family of Charles and Martha Olney" compiled by Keith R.Collyer in the Dedication.

"Charles Olney is buried at Geelong Eastern Cemetery (Church of England section OA506).
A plaque has since been added to the headstone in memory of Martha’s death on 7 January 1889.

Although born nearly two hundred years ago and so far away, we can experience and appreciate their care for their family - now us - in the epitaph in the Rutland family Bible."

                               "Martha Olney died 7 January 1889 Dearest Grandmama"

Martha Olney 1868 in Ballarat
The following Foreword by Ross Olney is included in the book "The Family of Charles and Martha Olney" compiled by Keith R.Collyer (desceased).

     "The Family of Charles and Martha Olney" 

Foreword by Ross Olney November 2005

Many families write books about themselves detailing their origins and the history of the day as a result of identifying their forebears. This book is no different in that respect, however the original work was not that of an Olney by name, but by Keith R. Collyer who passed away on 14 February 2003.

Keith became interested in the Olney name as a consequence of having two great grandmothers who were born “Olneys”. He became fascinated not so much with the Olney name, but with how his two great grandmothers were or were not related to each other. He found that both great grandparents were children of Charles and Martha Olney who migrated to Australia in 1849. To add to this intrigue the two Olney sisters (Elizabeth and Emma) married two Rutland brothers (William and George). We believe they were the first Olney family to migrate to Australia however they were not the only one. How the other Olneys are related to Charles and Martha is unknown at this stage. Much of the early history in this book was researched and written by A. Gordon Keys and has progressively been updated and corrected.

Keith as a descendant of Charles and Martha Olney identified over 3000 descendants of both sex, not just “males”, with the name Olney. Keith, with the assistance of his wife Madge, Rob and Lyn Olney, my wife Barbara and I, arranged a gathering to celebrate 150 years since the arrival of Charles and Martha Olney in Australia. The first edition of the book was published to coincide with this event and over 300 people, mainly descendants, attended the reunion in Geelong on 8 August 1999.

Genealogy could be an exact science, the data is available somewhere. It is finite and many family members have knowledge of this detail or that. Unfortunately in practise, genealogy is like a game where it is easier to connect the dots than find the dots to connect. Consequently this is a “living” work. New information comes to light which can enhance, modify or make redundant what was thought to be accurate at the time; hence this book has been corrected, expanded and republished several times. This process has been assisted significantly by contributions from Valmai Olney and Joy Olney. This edition is unlikely to be the last. We will continue to look at expanding the early history of the Olneys and add to the growing list of descendants of Charles and Martha in Australia. We have an extensive database and are always happy to provide details and accept information to expand the knowledge base, and to assist people to discover their connection to Charles and Martha Olney. To access some of the data more easily and keep it up-to-date more readily, a website has been created (see inside front cover). We trust you enjoy reading this book. In turn we ask that you help us keep it “alive” by advising us of any changes, corrections, suggestions or additions.

Through the efforts and dedication of the numerous people mentioned above, many people and future generations will be able to track their connection to the arrival of Charles and Martha Olney in Australia and back to England as far as 1549.

Please note: Ross Olney is the keeper of the Olney family tree. If you have information that needs to be corrected or added to, please contact Ross direct by email -

You can order your own hard copy of "The Family of Charles and Martha Olney" by clicking on -

If you wish to contact the author of these Olney Family Archives blogs with corrections or further information, please email Joy Olney at

These blogs have been written as another way of sharing the Olney family history with those interested. They do not cover all branches. My interest primarily is with the "David" Olney branch with parents Charles and Martha Olney.

Peter and Joy Olney were fortunate enough to visit England in 2007 and visited many of the churches, places, houses  and villages written about in the books by Keith Collyer and A.Gordon Keys.  More recent generations in Australia are also included in the Olney Family Archives Blog.


  1. Nice to find this page. I have Olney family lines from Charles & Martha. I was happy to update my Olney info with the right lines, as I along with many others I'm sure, have had the wrong info you have mentioned on this site.
    I'm dissapointed that there is no actual e-mail contact for this page of info... to touch base & make contact. is my contact

    Jill Shalders
    Derrinallum, Vic

  2. Jill has pointed me to this Blog - I have a page at
    called Charles Olney, linked to Capp and other families.
    Now I must correct my errors - Thankyou for your help.