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Gelfand Coat of Arms / Gelfand Family Crest

This English, Scottish, French and German surname of GELFAND was originally derived from the Old French word OLIFANT, meaning 'elephant'. The name was rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form OLIFANTUS. The reasons for which this name was applied are not clear. It may have been a nickname for a large, clumsy individual, or an occupational name for a worker in ivory, or a house name from a house distinguished with the sign of an elephant. The name has numerous variant spellings which include OLIPHANT, OLIFANT, OLIVANT, ELEFANT, ELFAND, HELFANT, HELFAND, GELFANT, HOLYFARD and OLYFARD, to name but a few. It 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 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. When the first immigrants from Europe went to America, the only names current in the new land were Indian names which did not appeal to Europeans vocally, and the Indian names did not influence the surnames or Christian names already possessed by the immigrants. Mostly the immigrant could not read or write and had little or no knowledge as to the proper spelling, and their names suffered at the hands of the government officials. The early town records are full of these mis-spelt names most of which gradually changed back to a more conventional spelling as education progressed.

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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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