Ulster Ancestry : Newsletter
The Oliphant Clan & Family Association

By Clare Oliphant, Scotland

The History of the Oliphants

The first mention of the family was a William (i) ??? although there was no surname given - in the 1080s in Lilford in Northamptonshire. The next mention was of a Roger Olifard (ii), around 1100, followed by another William Olifard (iii), a few years later. Since they were all connected with the same area, it is likely that they were a succession of three generations of the same family. No contemporary evidence has yet come to light in Scotland, France, England, Norway or Belgium to support any of the theories of the origins of the Oliphant's prior to this.

The earliest ancestor whom we can positively identify is David Olifard, also from Lilford, godson to King David 1 of Scotland. In 1141 at the Battle of Winchester, he saved King David???s life, for which he was granted land in Scotland by the King, thereby becoming the first known Chief of the Oliphants. David was the first of four successive Olifards to be Justiciars of the Lothians, an important hereditary position second only after the King???s brother and giving him control of all of Scotland south of the River Forth.

In 1173, Sir Walter Olifard, Justiciar of the Lothians and 3rd Chief of the Clan, married Christian, daughter of Ferteth, Earl of Strathearn. In 1183, Sir Walter acquired the lands of Aberdalgie, in Strathearn in exchange for other lands which had been Christian???s dowry.

Sir William Olifard, 10th Chief, was styled as Lord William Olifard and may have been the first Lord Oliphant (making that peerage one of the oldest in Scotland.) Sir William Olifard defended Stirling Castle from King Edward 1 in 1304. In 1317 he received grants of the lands of Gask, Newtyle, Turin and Gallery. He also owned many other estates besides these, including Aberdalgie and Dupplin. In 1320, he was one of the signatories to the declaration of Arbroath. Sir William died in 1329, the same year as his King (Robert the Bruce). Years later, his eldest son, Sir Walter Olifard, married The Bruce???s youngest daughter, Princess Elizabeth. It was to this couple that the lands of Kellie were given in the year 1360.

In July, 1455, Laurence Oliphant, 15th Chief, was styled Lord Oliphant. He was a man of great wealth and power, many people in Perthshire sought his protection and there are numerous bonds of manrent from his neighbours. By the second half of the sixteenth century, the Lords Oliphant owned estates in seven different counties. In Caithness alone, they owned a quarter of the entire county. In most of the other six counties they owned at least three estates. They were vastly rich. For over four hundred years their fortunes had risen and risen. The 5th Lord Oliphant inherited one of the biggest fortunes in Scotland in 1595, but by 1633 he had dissipated his entire inheritance.

In the eighteenth century, the Oliphants of Gask were prominent and represented the Clan in both the 1715 and the 1745 Jacobite Risings. Both Laurence Oliphants, the Elder and Younger Lairds, had to flee Scotland to France after Culloden, where they remained in exile for many years. One of the daughters of Laurence Oliphant, the Younger was Carolina Oliphant, Lady Nairne. She is regarded as Scotland???s finest songstress and poetess. A sister married their cousin, Laurence Oliphant of Condie, who was instrumental in reinstating the Gask branch.

The Condie branch were prominent in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with numerous luminaries including an Ambassador, a Chairman of the East India Company, an Admiral, two Generals, a Chief Justice, two Members of Parliament, to name a few. The Rossie branch, an offshoot of Condie, also produced a Postmaster of Scotland and Betty Oliphant, who is famous in Canada for founding the Ballet Company there.

Clan Crest

The Belt & Buckle with the unicorn and motto ???a tout pourvior??? meaning ???Provide for all???

Clan Chief

The Current Clan Chief is Richard Oliphant of that Ilk, Hereditary Chief of The Arms and Name of Oliphant.

Eminent, famous, infamous and distinguished Oliphants: -

12th Century David Olifard, godson of and saviour of, King David 1, of Scotland.
12th Century Sir Walter Olifard, husband of Christian, daughter of Ferteth, Earl of Strathearn.
14th Century Sir William Olifard, defender of Stirling Castle. Imprisoned in Tower of London.
14th Century Sir Walter Olifard, husband of Princess Elizabeth Bruce.
15th Century Laurence, first Lord Oliphant (of ten.)
16th Century Laurence Oliphant, Abbot of Inchaffrey, killed at the Battle of Flodden, 1513.
16th Century Colin, Master of Oliphant, killed at the Battle of Flodden, 1513.
17th Century Sir William Oliphant, Lord Advocate for Scotland.
17th Century Sir James Oliphant, first baronet (Nova Scotia)
17th Century Col. William, ninth Lord Oliphant, ardent Jacobite.
18th Century Laurence Oliphant, 6th of Gask, the elder Jacobite Laird.
18th Century Laurence Oliphant, 7th of Gask, the younger Jacobite Laird.
19th Century Laurence Oliphant, 8th of Condie, Member of Parliament (MP).
19th Century Sir Anthony Oliphant, Chief Justice of Ceylon and father of Ceylon tea.
19th Century Col. James Oliphant, Chairman, The Honourable East India Company.
19th Century Major General William Stirling Oliphant, Bengal.
19th Century Laurence Oliphant, Zionist, MP, mystic, traveller, lawyer, writer, spy.
19th Century Major General Sir Laurence James Oliphant, 9th of Condie, GOC, London
20th Century Sir Lancelot Oliphant, appointed British Ambassador to the Belgians.
20th Century Rear Admiral Laurence Richard Oliphant.
20th Century Sir Marcus Oliphant, nuclear physicist, Governor General of New South Wales.

Clan Objectives/Aims

??? To preserve and foster the history and traditions associated with the name of Oliphant and all of it's variants, in every part of the world where the Oliphants have lived or do live now.

??? To create links and friendships between Oliphants the world over.

??? To research and share information about the history of all Oliphants.

??? To meet and enjoy and indulge in the company of others with the same interests and objectives.

??? To buy back Oliphant Artifacts, preserve historical Oliphant sites and Documents

??? To raise funds to open Clan Centres in Scotland & America that will house information on all family trees.
??? To hold a database of Oliphant grave photos with their locations and inscriptions.

Who Can Join?

Anyone of the Oliphant Lineage or an interest in the Oliphant Clan

I am the area co-ordinator for the UK and deal with Oliphant Membership there and all other countries with the exception of the US. You can contact me by e-mail on clare-clanoliphant@tiscali.co.uk

We have a number of Clan Secretaries in the USA please e-mail our US Co-Ordinator Stacy Oliphant on stacy-clanoliphant@hotmail.com for information

There are lots of other spelling variations of the Oliphant surname Including :- Olifard, Olifat, Olifent, Olifarth, Olifart, Olifaunt, Oliphat, Oliphent, Oliphant, Olliphant, Ollivant, Olliveant, Oliphand, Olivand, Oliveand, Olivhant, Ollevant, Olyfant, Olyphant, Elifend, Holyfarth, Oliphar, Olover, Olipheir, Olivent, Ollivent, Olivant, Holifarth, Olyfart, Olyfaunt, Olifarli, Olefant, Olephants, Olevant, Ollevent. These are obviously due to the fact that in past times lots of people were unable to read or write and it was written down as it sounded.

There is a separate worldwide membership Secretary who deals with the Olivant {inc all the other variants} her name is Jackie Nicholson and she can be e-mailed at jackie_clanoliphant@yahoo.co.uk

Members Benefits


??? Membership Card
??? Newsletters {Three per year}
??? Member???s Interest???s Information {Twice per year}
??? To get involved in projects to preserve Oliphant historical sites or buy back Oliphant Artefacts.
??? To make contact with other people from all over the world of common heritage.
??? Being kept informed of events such as Highland Games where representatives from the Clan will be present.


You can view our website at www.geocities.com/clanoliphant

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