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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the Scottish Oliphant family come from? What is the Scottish Oliphant family crest and coat of arms? When did the Oliphant family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Oliphant family history?

Although the Scottish Oliphant surname is known to derive from the Medieval Latin word "olifantus," meaning "elephant," its origins as a surname are quite uncertain. David de Olifard is the progenitor of the House of Oliphant. He was one of the many Anglo-Norman nobles that were invited northward by the early Norman kings of Scotland. He settled in Northamptonshire, but when he saved King David I during the siege of Winchester Castle, he received a small grant of lands in Roxeburghshire. Under later rulers, the Oliphant lands were significantly extended as King Malcolm granted the family Bothwell in Lanarkshire and King William I granted them Arbuthnott in Mearns.

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Spelling variations of this family name include: Oliphant, Olifant, Olifard and others.

First found in Perthshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Pheairt) former county in the present day Council Area of Perth and Kinross, located in central Scotland, where William Oliphant is recorded in the Ragman Rolls, as he was taken prisoner at Rochester in 1296. He was then forced to swear allegiance to King Edward I of England during the latter's brief conquest of Scotland. However, eight years later, he was appointed Warden of Stirling Castle by Robert the Bruce of Scotland to whom he had willingly pledged allegiance. And yet Edward of England again took him prisoner.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Oliphant research. Another 352 words(25 lines of text) covering the years 1456, 1498, 1583, 1631, 1680, 1691, 1715, 1725, 1745, 1748, 1767, 1780, and 1792 are included under the topic Early Oliphant History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 81 words(6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Oliphant Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Oliphant Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • William Oliphant who was banished to New Jersey in 1685
  • William Oliphant, who arrived in Perth Amboy, NJ in 1685

Oliphant Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Lawrence Oliphant arrived in St. Christopher in 1716
  • Andrew Oliphant, who arrived in New England in 1762
  • James Oliphant arrived in Georgia in 1775

Oliphant Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • John Oliphant, aged 43, landed in New York in 1814
  • Ethelbert Oliphant, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1829

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  • Thomas "Tom" Oliphant, American columnist for the Boston Globe
  • Margaret Oliphant Oliphant (1828-1897), Scottish novelist and historical writer
  • Laurence Oliphant, 8th of Condie and 30th Chief of Clan Oliphant, Scottish Member of Parliament for Perth between 1832 and 1837
  • Sir Marcus "Mark" Laurence Elwin Oliphant AC, KBE, FRS (1901-2000), Australian physicist and humanitarian, co-developer of the Atomic bomb, Governor of South Australia
  • Air Marshall David Oliphant,
  • Laurence Oliphant (1829-1888), British author and mystic
  • Patrick Bruce "Pat" Oliphant (b. 1934), Australian syndicated political cartoonist
  • Lt. Colonel James Oliphant (1796-1881), Director and Chairman of the Honourable East India Company
  • Robert "Rob" Oliphant (b. 1956), Canadian politician and a United Church minister
  • General Sir Laurence James Oliphant KCB KCVO (1846-1914), 9th of Condie, 31st Chief of Clan Oliphant, British Army General

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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Tout pour voir
Motto Translation: Provide for all

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Oliphant Clan Badge
Oliphant Clan Badge

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A clan is a social group made up of a number of distinct branch-families that actually descended from, or accepted themselves as descendants of, a common ancestor. The word clan means simply children. The idea of the clan as a community is necessarily based around this idea of heredity and is most often ruled according to a patriarchal structure. For instance, the clan chief represented the hereditary "parent" of the entire clan. The most prominent example of this form of society is the Scottish Clan system...

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Septs of the Distinguished Name Oliphant
Elephantus, Elifant, Holifard, Olifaunt, Oliphant, Oliphont, Olyfat and more.

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  1. Catholic Directory For Scotland. Glasgow: Burns Publications. Print.
  2. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  3. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  4. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  5. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  6. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  7. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  8. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  9. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Socts Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Modern Application of the Art of Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  10. Martine, Roddy, Roderick Martine and Don Pottinger. Scottish Clan and Family Names Their Arms, Origins and Tartans. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992. Print.
  11. ...

The Oliphant Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Oliphant Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 2 April 2014 at 11:54.

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