ACtor Tim Olyphant in the San Clarita Diet (Photo: Netflix)
ACtor Tim Olyphant in the San Clarita Diet (Photo: Netflix)

10 fascinating facts about Clan Oliphant

If you’re a member of Clan Oliphant, here’s 10 essential facts you need to know.

Our bluffer’s guide brings you 10 handy bits of trivia that may amuse or fascinate.

Click HERE to read our feature about the restoration of Clan Oliphant.

1. The Oliphant Clan Chief’s motto is ‘A tout pourvoir’ (Provide for all) and the crest fea-tures a unicorn’s head. Lord Oliphant’s Coat of Arms features the unicorn and motto with two rampant elephants and three crescents argent against a red background (gules).

2. Carolina Oliphant (1766–1845), named in memory of ‘Bonnie’ Prince Charles Edward Stuart, was famous for writing Jacobite songs and her many sobriquets. Nicknamed ‘pretty Miss Car’ at school for her striking beauty, and ‘Flower of Strathearn’ for her pleasing manners, Carolina became Lady Nairne through marriage. Although her songs, such as Charlie is my Darling, Land o’ the Leal, The Rowan Tree and A Hundred Pipers, were hugely popular in her time – second only to Robert Burns – due to Carolina’s social standing she kept her identity secret, even from her husband, using the name Mrs Bogan of Bogan.

3. Timothy Olyphant (born 1968) is an American actor and producer who has appeared in the films Scream 2 and Oliver Stone’s Snowden, the TV legal thriller Damages and the US version of British sitcom The Office. He can be found in Netflix series The San Clarita Diet, alongside Drew Barrymore.

Actor Tim Olyphant in the Santa Clarita Diet (Photo: Netflix)

4. Due to the absence of a Chief for 250 years and to Clan Oliphant’s historic importance, other clans have erroneously laid claim to the name in the 19th century. The Clan Chief, Richard Eric Laurence Oliphant of that Ilk, is also Chieftain of the Condie branch and only three further Chieftains remain today: Laurence Oliphant of Ardblair and Gask, Philip Oliphant of Rossie and David Olyphant of Bachilton.

5. The Oliphant name comes from David de Olifard who saved the life of King David I during the siege of Winchester Castle in 1141 and was changed after encountering the oliphantus (the form word for elephant) in the crusades. Today, the highest distribution of the surname in Scotland occurs in Fife, the Highlands, Perth and Kinross, and Dundee and Angus.

6. Sir Marcus ‘Mark’ Laurence Elwin Oliphant (1901–2000) played an important role in the first experimental demonstration of nuclear fusion and the development of nuclear weapons. After the physicist retired, he was appointed Governor of South Australia, assisted in founding the Australian Democrats party and became a campaigner for voluntary euthanasia.

Sir Marcus ‘Mark’ Laurence Elwin Oliphant helped develop nuclear weapons


7. South African-born Laurence Oliphant (1829–1888), was a writer, diplomat and one of the first Christian Zionists. He was first secretary of the British legation to Japan, suffering permanent damage to one of his hands during a night-time attack in Edo, and was an MP for several years. In 1868 he joined a religious community in California and eleven years later, settled in Palestine. He died in England.

8. Australian cartoonist Pat Oliphant (born 1935) won the 1967 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning for They won’t get us to the conference table… will they and many other accolades including the National Cartoonist Society Editorial Cartoon Award seven times. His trademark is a small penguin called Punk.

9. Thomas Oliphant (1799–1873) was an artist and author but primarily known as a musician and lyricist. In 1863 he wrote the Chorale for the wedding of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. Oliphant’s ability to translate foreign songs into English was a much sought-after skill in Victorian Britain. His words for the yuletide tune, Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly, are still sung today as a Christmas carol.

Thomas Oliphant wrote the wrote the Chorale for the wedding of King Edward VII

10 Margaret Oliphant (1828–1897) was a highly distinguished 19th century novelist, essayist and historical and travel writer. She published more than 120 works and was avidly read by Queen Victoria, Darwin, Gladstone and Virginia Woolf among others. She contributed to Blackwood’s Magazine and also wrote supernatural fiction including the ghost story A Beleaguered City.