Motto: A tout pouvoir (Provide for all)

The Oliphant name is of Norman origin.  The family continued to hold land in Northamptonshire long after the principal branch had removed to Scotland.  They were friends of David I, when as Earl of Huntingdon he was ‘getting the Scottish rust rubbed off’ by residence in England.  David Holifard saved David I at the rout of Winchester, 1141, and was rewarded by a grant of land in Scotland.  The name has undergone a curious change due to popular etymology.  

The earliest forms are uniformly Olifard and Olyfard (from the Latin – Olifardus).  It seems to have been sometimes pronounced Olifat, as in 1296, and later in some instances in public record, changed to Oliver.  The gradual softening of the name was first Holifarth and Olifarth, then into Olifart or Olyfart, and lastly into Olyfant or Olyfaunt which gave rise to the canting arms borne by the family.  

Andrew Oliphant, John Knox’s servant, latinised his name ‘Elephantus’, perhaps because of tales from those who had been on Crusade.  David Oliford, first of the name in Scotland, godson of David 1, acquired lands in Roxburghshire from the King, probably after 1141, and appears as witness to several charters of the King, and to later ones made by Prince Henry and Malcolm IV.  He made grants from his lands to the abbeys of Dryburgh and Jedburgh, and to the Hospital of Soltre c.1153-57.  

By Malcolm IV he appears to have been created ‘Justiciarius Laudence’.  An Osbert Olifard held land in the Mearns in the first half of William the Lion, and a Fulcone Olifard witnessed a charter by Jocelin, Bishop of Glasgow, 1175-99.  

The name appears to have the following variants: Oliphant, Olifant, Olifard, Olifaunt, Oliphand, Oliyfant, Oliyfawnt, Olyphaint, Olyphard and Elifend.  There is also a suggestion that the Oliphants are regarded as being connected with the Skenes.