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OLIPHANT. Laurence, fourth Lord Oliphant

OLIPHANT. Laurence, fourth Lord Oliphant (1529-1593). eldest son of Laurence, third Lord Oliphant by Margaret Sandilands. was born in 1529.

In 1543 he was sent to England as a hostage for his father. After the Darnley marriage he, while Master of Oliphant, sat as an extraordinary member of the Privy Council in August 1565.(1)

ln 1565 certain persons accused of slaughter and other crimes took possession of his house of Berrydale. which they garrisoned and held: but on 13 April 1566 they were ordered by the Council to give it up to him within 24 hours under pain of being treated as rebels. (2)

He succeeded his father on 26 March of the same year. and was served heir on 2 May. He sat on the assize for the trial of Bothwell, for the murder of Darnley. signed the bond for Bothwell’s marriage to the Queen. and was one of the nine temporal lords present at the marriage.

At the same time as John Hamilton. Archibishop of St. Andrews. he was admitted a member of the Privy Council. (3) He joined the association on behalf of Mary at Hamilton on 8 May 1568 and fought for her at Langside. On this account he was charged to appear before the Regent and lords of the Privy Council, and failing to do so was on 2 August, 1568, denounced a rebel and put to the horn. (4) but on 5. April, 1569, he signed a ‘‘bond for the King’’ (5) and on 16 June again appeared as a member of the Privy Council. (6)

He was one of the sixteen appointed by Queen Mary at Bolton Castle on 6 March, 1569, to act as advisers with Chatelherault, Huntly and Argyll in the critical circumstances of the Kingdom. (7) He attended the convention at Perth on 31 July of the same year, and voted against the Queen’s divorce from Bothwell. (8) An attack on him and his servants on 18 July at the instance of the Earl of Caithness was the subject of deliberation by the Privy Council on 12 October (9) and 22 November. (10)

After the death of the Regent, Moray, in January, 1570. Lord Oliphant met the leaders of the Queen's party at Linlithgow, where they had a conference with the French Ambassador. His name also appears among those who in April 1570, subscribed a letter to Elizabeth, petitioning here to "enter" into such conditions with the Queen's Highness in Scotland as may be honourable for all parties" (11). Killigrew in a letter to Burghley in 1573 mentions that Oliphant joined the anti-Marian party after Morton's succession to the Regency. (12) but he appears to have joined before this, having attended a meeting of the Privy Council at Leith in May, 1572 while the Regent Mar was still alive. (13)

After the retirement of Morton from the Regency, Oliphant attended a meeting of the parliament in the Castle of Stirling on 16 July 1578, presided over by the King. (14) In November 1580 he was charged to answer before the Council for an attack on Lord Ruthven (15), and on 7 December caution was given for him in one thousand pounds, that he would on the 9th enter into ward in the Castle of Doune in Menteith. (16) Subsequently disputes between him and the Earl of Caithness occupied the frequent attention of the Privy Council. (17)

Oliphant died at Caithness on 16 January, 1593 and was buried in the Church of Wick. By Lady Margaret Hay, second daughter o! George, seventh Earl of Errol. He had two sons and three daughters. The sons were Laurence, Master of Oliphant and John Oliphant of Newlands. The daughters were Elizabeth, married to William, tenth Earl of Angus; Jean to Alexander Bruce of Cultmalindie; and Margaret, to Sir James Johnstone of Westerhall.

Laurence, Master of Oliphant, (d. 1584 ?) was concerned in the raid of Ruthven, and on this account was in March 1584 charged. along with his brother-in-law, Robert Douglas, son of William Douglas of Lochleven, to quit the realm. They set sail for the continent, but never reached it. According to Calderwood, "they perished by the way, and were never seen again they, nor ship, nor any belonging thereunto. The manner is uncertain, but the most common report was that, being invaded by Hollanders or Flusingers. and fighting valiantly, slew one of the principal of their number, in revenge where of they were all sunk, or, as others report, after they had rendered, they were hanged upon the mast of the ship." (18) Another report was that they had been made slaves by the Turks, and detained in captivity in the town of Algiers on the coast of Barbary. (19)

Dict. of Nat. Biog. Vol. 42. T. F. Henderson. 1895.


1. Reg. P. C. Scotl. 1. 347
2. ib. pp. 447-8
3. ib. p. 509
4. ib. p. 633
5. ib. p. 654
6. ib. p. 670
7. Labanoff. Leettres (IC Marie Stuart. ii. 271.
8. Reg. P. C. Scotl. ii. 8.
9. ib. pp. 37—40.
10. ib. 57—8.
11. Calderwood ii. 550. History of the Church in Scotland.
12. Cal. State Papers For. Ser. 1572—4. Entry 761.
13. Reg. P. C. Scotl. ii. 135.
14. Maysie. Memoirs p. 12. Bannatyne Club.
15. ib. p. 28. Hist. James the Sext. p. 100. Bannatyne Club.
16. Reg. P. C. Scotl. iii. 335.
17. ib. iv. passim.
18. History. iv. 46.
19. Cal. Scott State Papers 1509 -1603 pp. 431, 570.
Anderson's Oliphants in Scotland 1879. pp. xl—lxii.
Douglas’s Scottish Peerage (Wood) ii. 334.

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