The Great House, Low Leyton, Essex: designs for remodelling the principal rooms, for Thomas Oliver, c1767 (6)
Richard Oliver (1735-84), was the son of Rowland Oliver of Antigua, a member of the Antiguan Council. In 1758 he married his cousin, Mary Oliver, the heiress of Richard Oliver, a Draper and Caribbean merchant, and succeeded to his property in Low Leyton in 1767. He served as an alderman and MP for London in 1770-78, when his father died and he resigned these London-based offices in order to return to Antigua and manage his newly-inherited estates. Richard died aboard ship during his voyage back to England in 1784.
Adam's plans for the Great House at Low Leyton show an early Georgian fabric to which he made alterations to the interior. Although the house was demolished in 1905, the extent of Adam's work there has been established by King by looking at a 1902 description of the building and surviving photographs. Adam made alterations to the dining room and drawing room on the ground storey, and to various bedrooms on the first storey. These works were completed in 1769.
In the past there has been some confusion over the name of the patron at Low Leyton as some of the drawings are inscribed with the alternative name, Thomas Oliver. Thomas was Richard Oliver’s younger brother, as well as his business and political partner. As both brothers’ names appear on the Adam drawings it is possible that they both resided at Low Leyton.
Literature: A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 21, 83; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume I, pp. 225, 244-45; 'Oliver, Richard (1735-84), of Fenchurch St., London', History of Parliament online, 2012