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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

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 Roxburghshire. 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.


The surname Oliphant was first found in Perthshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Pheairt) former county in the present day Council Area of Perth and Kinross, located in central Scotland. "The first of the descendants of this Norman, occurring in the public records, was David Olifard, who served in the army of King Stephen in 1141. A conspiracy was formed against the Empress Maud, who escaped from Winchester, attended by David I. Surrounded by the enemy, the Scottish King owed his safety to the exertions of his godson Olifard, who, although in the adverse party, aided his Royal opponent. In recompense, the rescued Monarch gave to his preserver, who settled in North Britain, the Lands of Crailing and Smallham in Roxburghshire, and conferred on him the dignified office of Justiciary. Thus was established the famous family of Oliphant, so distinguished in the annals of Scotland. " [1] Sir William Oliphant, of Aberdalgy gallantly defended Stirling Castle again Edward I's invasion. The Castle was the last stronghold that remained in he hands of the Scots. The battle for the Castle began April 22nd and was finally over July 20th with Sir William taken prisoner. He was then forced to swear allegiance to King Edward I of England under penalty of death. 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 again, Edward I of England again took him prisoner.

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


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Oliphant research. Another 227 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1456, 1498, 1583, 1631, 1631, 1680, 1715, 1748, 1715, 1725, 1780, 1691, 1767, 1715, 1792 and 1745 are included under the topic Early Oliphant History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 147 words (10 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Oliphant Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Oliphant Settlers in 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 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 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

Oliphant Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • David Oliphant, who landed in Canada in 1815
  • David Oliphant, aged 45, a printer, arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Atlas" in 1815
  • Clementina Oliphant, aged 39, arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Atlas" in 1815
  • Jean Oliphant, aged 17, arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Atlas" in 1815
  • David Oliphant, aged 15, arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Atlas" in 1815

Oliphant Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • William Smith Oliphant, aged 28, a shoemaker, arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Himalaya"
  • William Oliphant, aged 26, a shepherd, arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Lysander"

Oliphant Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Lilly Oliphant, aged 17, a housemaid, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rakaia" in 1879


  • Ruth Oliphant, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Michigan, 1964
  • Frank Oliphant, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Indiana, 1932
  • A. Dayton Oliphant (1887-1963), American Republican politician, Member of New Jersey State House of Assembly from Mercer County, 1915-17; Chair of Mercer County Republican Party, 1921; Circuit Judge in New Jersey, 1927-45
  • Thomas "Tom" Oliphant, American columnist for the Boston Globe
  • Laurence Oliphant, 8th of Condie and 30th Chief of Clan Oliphant, Scottish Member of Parliament for Perth between 1832 and 1837
  • Margaret Oliphant Oliphant (1828-1897), Scottish novelist and historical writer
  • Hon. Sir Anthony Oliphant (1793-1859), British lawyer, Chief Justice of Ceylon
  • General Sir Laurence James Oliphant KCB KCVO (1846-1914), 9th of Condie, 31st Chief of Clan Oliphant, British Army General
  • Robert "Rob" Oliphant (b. 1956), Canadian politician and a United Church minister
  • Lt. Colonel James Oliphant (1796-1881), Director and Chairman of the Honourable East India Company



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


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...


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


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  1. ^ Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  2. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  3. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and Don Pottinger. Clan Map Scotland of Old. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1983. Print.
  4. Scots Kith and Kin And Illustrated Map Revised 2nd Edition. Edinburgh: Clan House/Albyn. Print.
  5. Urquhart, Blair Edition. Tartans The New Compact Study Guide and Identifier. Secauccus, NJ: Chartwell Books, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0-7858-0050-6).
  6. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  7. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  8. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  9. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  10. Skene, William Forbes Edition. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots and Other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867. 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 21 January 2016 at 15:29.

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