John Sobey Olver, mining engineer, was the son of Richard Sobey Olver and his wife Mary. He did military service in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) as a trooper in the 27th (Devonshire) Company, 7th Battalion, of the Imperial Yeomanry. In 1909 he resided in Johannesburg and became a member of the Geological Society of South Africa. (His membership lapsed between 1915 and 1920). Towards the end of his life he resided in Rustenburg. He was not married.
Olver made several contributions to knowledge of the geology of the Witwatersrand, starting with Faults and dykes; a geological study of the Witwatersrand (Cape Town, 1911, 298 pp). Later he published articles in the South African Mining and Engineering Journal, dealing with 'The Boksburg gap' (1924, in 2 parts); 'The problem of Rand geology' (1925-1926, in 8 parts; and 1931); 'The human element in Rand geology' (1927, in 4 parts); and three more on the economic aspects of mining on the Witwatersrand (1927-1928).