John Silver was a deceased, former employee of Claudius, who had employed Silver in his "business of buying and selling rare objects of art", in London. Silver was a "highly educated, but eccentric" individual, and he couldn't "hold a job long" because of his strange sense of humor.
Before being employed by Claudius, he was reduced to a living of selling jokes, puzzles, and riddles to the newspapers and magazines.
One day, he had bought a ordinary painting of "two yellow-headed parrots on a branch", and Silver had paid a lot of money for buying it. Claudius discharged him for this, calling him a fool. However, after being discharged, he revealed to Claudius that he was sure that the ordinary painting was painting on top of an older and much more valuable painting. Silver cleaned off the painting of the parrots, showing an "absolutely lovely little painting of a young shepherdess tending a baby lamb".
However, Silver argued that as Claudius has discharged him, the painting now owned to Silver. As Claudius debated back that the painting belonged to him, due to Silver using Claudius' money to buy it, they agreed to share it half and half. However, Claudius threatned Silver with arrest, in anger. Silver, then, smuggled the image and left the country on a freighter. He had, actually, fled to California.
After fleeing to California, he stayed at Ramos Sanchez's house. According to Carlos, he had brought some "clothes in a sailor's bag", and a metal box, which actually had the painting he had smuggled in England. Silver slept with the box, which had a strong lock on it, under the mattress. Every night, he would inside, and would look happy.
Some time later, Silver bought seven parrots with "pretty yellow heads" and seven cages. He then began teaching them their individual riddles, that led to the painting, with Blackbeard always on his shoulder. One died, but Blackbeard took his place.
After he finished teaching the parrots their speeches, Silver, unexpectedly disappeared in the night, taking the metal box with him, and returned after three days. According to Carlos, when he came back, "he was very weak, and very sick". Then, he wrote a long letter, and gave it to Carlos to mail it. He then informed Carlos that a fat man will arrive, and give them a thousand dollars for buying the seven parrots and the mynah. That night, he died in his sleep.
- "John Silver" was not his real name, but rather, a pseudonym that he had used as a puzzle-maker in London.