The surname of OLIFANT is the name of a British family of Norman origin. They originally settled in Northants and Huntingdonshire, and later established themselves in Scotland. Their earliest recorded ancestor was Roger Olifard, who was witness to a charter in Northants before the year 1108. The name is variously recorded as Holyfard and Olyfard. The earliest hereditary surnames in England are found shortly after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and are of Norman French origin rather than native English. On the arrival of the Normans they identified themselves by references to the estates from which they came from in northern France. These names moved rapidly on with their bearers into Scotland and Ireland. Others of the Norman Invaders took names from the estates in England which they had newly acquired. David de Olifard who accompanied King David 1. from Winchester in 1141, is said to be the progenitor of the house of Oliphant. The title of Lord Oliphant was conferred on Sir Lawrence Oliphant, a descendant of the above David de Olifard in 1458. From Lawrence's second son, William, the Oliphants of Gask were descended. The Oliphants of Gask were ardent Jacobites, and Laurence Oliphant of Gask and his eldest son were attained for their participation in the Jacobite rising of 1745. The famous Scottish poetess Lady Nairne (Carolina Oliphant) 1766-1844, was of the Gask family and was named Carolina in honour of Prince Charlie. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. Origin of Name: Oliphant, from elephant, indicating great strength The arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory.
Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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