The Oliphants were a Norman family who first held lands in England around Northampton. It is said that David de Olifard rescued David, Earl of Huntingdon, later David I of Scotland, at the siege of Winchester Castle in 1141. He travelled north when the earl went to claim his kingdom, and was granted lands in Roxburghshire and made justiciar of Lothian. One of his sons was sent as hostage for William the Lion. The name appears on the 1296 Ragman Roll of Scottish nobles submitting to Edward I of England. In common with most of those forced to swear fealty to the English king, the Oliphants quickly took up the cause of Scottish independence, and defended Stirling Castle. Oliphant was captured at the fall of the great royal fortress and was sent to the Tower of London. He was subsequently released, and appears as one of the nobles appending their seals to the famous Declaration of Arbroath, asserting to the pope the historic independence of Scotland. The family received the lands of Gask in Perthshire which were erected into a barony. Sir John Oliphant was knighted by Robert II and his son, Sir Laurence of Aberdalgy, was created a Lord of Parliament by James II in 1458. He was ambassador to France in 1491 and later keeper of Edinburgh Castle. His grandson was killed following James IV at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, and his great-grandson was captured at the Battle of Solway Moss in 1542. The fourth Lord Oliphant was a staunch supporter of Mary, Queen of Scots, and was a member of the inquiry which acquitted Lord Bothwell of the murder of Darnley, the queen’s second husband. He attended the queen’s wedding and fought for her at the Battle of Langside in 1568. His eldest son, Laurence, was implicated in the conspiracy, known as the Raid of Ruthven, to kidnap the young James VI, and was exiled in 1582. The ship in which he sailed was lost at sea. His brother, who succeeded to the title, dissipated the entire estates, but some of the family lands were saved when one of his cousins purchased from him the Gask estate. He died without male issue, but the title was bestowed by Charles I upon the nearest male cousin, Patrick Oliphant. His son, Charles, strongly opposed the Treaty of Union in 1707. The Oliphants were devoted to the Jacobite cause, and the ninth Lord fought at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689, and was afterwards imprisoned. He joined with his cousin, Oliphant of Gask, in the rising of 1715. The tenth and last Lord Oliphant played an active role in the campaign of Bonnie Prince Charlie in the Forty-five, escaping first to Sweden and then to France after the defeat at Culloden. He was allowed to return to Scotland in 1763, but never relented in his opposition to the Hanoverians. The peerage became extinct when the tenth Lord died, acknowledging the Laird of Gask as his heir. Lady Nairne, the Jacobite poet, was Carolina Oliphant, daughter of the Laird of Gask, and was named in honour of Prince Charles Edward Stuart. She is credited with writing the lyrics of Charlie is my Darling and the equally famous Will ye no’ come back again? The principal seat of the family is now at Ardblair Castle near Blairgowrie in Perthshire.

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