The Oliphants were a Norman family who first held lands in England, Lilford, Northamptonshire. In 1080, William is the first Olifard for whom there is contemporary evidence of the surname being used.
David de Olifard is commonly held to be the progenitor of House of Oliphant. During the 1141 Battle of Winchester David de Olifard saved the life of his godfather, the Earl of Huntingdon, later to become David I of Scotland receiving in return a grant of land in Scotland and so becoming the 1st Chief (and 1st of four successive hereditary Justiciars of the Lothians.)
Sir Walter, the 3rd Chief, married Christian, the daughter of Ferteth, the Earl of Strathearn in 1173, by 1183 had gained the lands of Aberdalgie in Strathearn.
In 1296 the 10th Chief, Sir William, signed the Ragman Roll of Scottish nobles submitting to Edward I of England. He soon took up the cause of Scottish Independence, in 1304 defended Stirling Castle against Edward. Sir Willam was capyured and sent to the Tower of London. However, he was later released and awarded lands of Turin, Newtyle, Gask and Gallery as compensation in 1317. Nine years before his death in 1329, William was a signatory to the Declaration of Arbroath which asserted Scotland’s freedom to Pope John XXII.
Sir Willian died in 1329. The eldest son of Sir William, Sir Walter married The Bruce’s youngest daughter, Elizabeth. Together they received the Barony of Kellie in 1360.
Laurence Oliphant, the 15th Chief, became a Lord of Parliament in the July of 1455, and in 1491 he was an ambassador to France. Later on he became keeper of Edinburgh Castle.
The fourth Lord Oliphant was a staunch supporter of Mary, Queen of Scots and a member of the inquiry which acquitted the Earl of Bothwell of the murder of Lord Darnley, Queen Mary’s second husband. The fourth Oliphant attended the queen’s wedding and fought for her at the Battle of Langside in 1568. The Oliphants remained devoted to the Jacobite cause and the ninth Lord Oliphant was imprisoned for his part at Killiecrankie in 1689. During the rising of 1715 he was accompanied by his cousin, Laurance Oliphant of Gask, who had also played an active role in the campaign of Charles Edward Stewart in 1745. After the defeat at Culloden both Oliphants exiled in France.
The daughter of Laurence the Younger was the songstress Carolina, later called Lady Nairne.
Laurance the Elder’s sister married their cousin Laurance Oliphant of Condie, whose unfortunate early demise meant that their son was brought up by Laurance Oliphant of Gask. Too young to fight in the campaign of 1745 this son was the conduit for reinstating his brother-in-law to the Gask lands many years later, after the attainder was lifted and Gask returned to his homeland of Scotland.
The current Oliphant chief is descended from the Condi branch of Oliphants. This branch of Oliphants have acclaimed much notoriety; in the 19th and 20th Centuries produced an Ambassador, a Chairman of the Hon. E. India Company, two Generals, an Admiral, a Chief of Justice as well as two MPs.
The other branch of the Oliphants, the Rossie’s has produced; a Postmaster General of Scotland and Betty, founder of the Canadian National Ballet School.
The Oliphants have numerous castles, houses and places of Clan interest all over Scotland.
There is a wealth of Clan memorabilia held by an Oliphant Chieftan at Ardblair Castle, a Blair seat near Blairgowie in Perthshire.
Oliphant Clan History