Show ContentsOliphant History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Scottish Oliphant surname is known to derive from "Olifant (derived from elephas) [which] signifies an elephant's tusk mounted as a horn, which was one of the ancient symbols of command." [1]

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.

"Hugo and William Olifard occur in Hampshire and Northamptonshire in 1130 (Rotul. Pip.) and 1165 [2]. William Olifard, of Huntingdonshire, in the time of Edward I. (Rot. Hundredorum.) No other mention of the name has come under my notice in England ; but it was very early transplanted beyond the Tweed, and still flourishes in Perthshire under its Scottish pseudonym of Oliphant. " [1]

Early Origins of the Oliphant family

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. " [3]

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.

Early History of the Oliphant family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Oliphant research. Another 114 words (8 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 and printed products wherever possible.

Oliphant Spelling Variations

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

Early Notables of the Oliphant family (pre 1700)

Notable among the family at this time was Laurence Oliphant (1691-1767) was a Jacobite army officer[1] who belonged to a branch settled at Findo Gask in Perthshire, Scotland. He took part in the rising of 1715, and both he and his...
Another 41 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Oliphant Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Oliphant Ranking

In the United States, the name Oliphant is the 3,929th most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [4] However, in South Africa, the name Oliphant is ranked the 440th most popular surname with an estimated 16,221 people with that name. [5]

United States Oliphant migration to the United States +

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 [6]
Oliphant Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Andrew Oliphant, who arrived in New England in 1762 [6]
  • James Oliphant, who arrived in Georgia in 1775
Oliphant Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Oliphant, aged 43, who landed in New York in 1814 [6]
  • Ethelbert Oliphant, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1829 [6]

Canada Oliphant migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Oliphant Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • David Oliphant, who landed in Canada in 1815
  • David Oliphant, aged 45, a printer, who arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Atlas" in 1815
  • Clementina Oliphant, aged 39, who arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Atlas" in 1815
  • Jean Oliphant, aged 17, who arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Atlas" in 1815
  • David Oliphant, aged 15, who arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Atlas" in 1815
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Oliphant migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Oliphant Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Richard Oliphant, English convict who was convicted in Dover, Kent, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Eliza" on 2nd February 1831, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [7]
  • William Smith Oliphant, aged 28, a shoemaker, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Himalaya" [8]
  • William Oliphant, aged 26, a shepherd, who arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Lysander" [9]

New Zealand Oliphant migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Oliphant Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Miss. Mary Ann Oliphant, (b. 1815), aged 47, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Edward Thornhill" arriving in Nelson, South Island, New Zealand in 1862 [10]
  • Lilly Oliphant, aged 17, a housemaid, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rakaia" in 1879

West Indies Oliphant migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [11]
Oliphant Settlers in West Indies in the 18th Century
  • Lawrence Oliphant, who arrived in St. Christopher (Saint Kitts) in 1716

Contemporary Notables of the name Oliphant (post 1700) +

  • Thomas "Tom" Oliphant, American columnist for the Boston Globe
  • Ruth Oliphant, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Michigan, 1964 [12]
  • Frank Oliphant, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Indiana, 1932 [12]
  • 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 [12]
  • 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
  • ... (Another 4 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

USS Arizona
  • Mr. Harold E. Oliphant, American Gunner's Mate Third Class working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he survived the sinking [13]

The Oliphant Motto +

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

  1. Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 2 of 3
  2. Liber Niger Scutarii ("Black Book of the Exchequer"), containing reports by county on feudal holdings in England in 1166 (reign of Henry II)
  3. Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  4. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  5. "Most Common Last Names in South Africa." Forebears,
  6. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  7. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 28th February 2022). Retrieved from
  8. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The HIMALAYA 1849. Retrieved from
  9. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) LYSANDER 1850. Retrieved
  10. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  12. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 7) . Retrieved from
  13. Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from on Facebook