DNA Project

from Roddy: Dear All,

At times, I take for granted, that everyone understands what I am talking about, vis-a-vis the various branches of the family. Actually, the information is not always either readily available or even written. As a result, at the request of Jackie, I am going to expand on the strategy, to explain the reasoning behind it:-

I listed the following areas:-

1/. Caithness
2/. Aberdeen
3/. Fife (Kellie)
4/. Northern Ireland
5/. A Perthshire family, thought to be descended from Kellie
6/. Roxburghshire
7/. Another Perthshire family, whose origin is possibly known but could also
be Kellie or the Lords Oliphant
8/. A Glasgow family, whose origin is unknown.
In addition, we will also have the Olifent DNA as well (which may be the same as 5/. - we hope).

It is perhaps the time to explain what they all represent:-

1/. Caithness

As you may know, the Oliphants held lands in Caithness. However, the principal line could not be everywhere on their extended and vast landholdings at the same time. Nor did the chiefly line distribute the wealth amongst all their children. The eldest son usually inherited everything. The other tended, if they could, to try at times, to set up younger sons, in the best "station" they could, even ensuring that new lands were bought for those younger sons.

The senior line were potentially then presented with a problem, in that their lands were spread across most of the country, yet they needed to be tightly controlled by people whom the Lords/chiefs could trust.They did this by a series of sub-infeudation by members of the family. What that meant was that the chiefs put younger sons/siblings into their estates as tenant lairds.

The brother of the third Lord Oliphant was called William Oliphant of Newton and Thrumster. In turn, his eldest son, Laurence (who became the founder of the Gask line), was also styled as "of Newton and Thrumster".

Thrumster or Thrumbuster, was in the southerly part of the vast Caithness etstates owned by the Lords Oliphant.

However, the present Caithness Oliphants are not direct descendants of any of these. They were sent north in the late 1500s to look after part of the northerly Caithness lands, around Duncansby. The genealogy is not complete but they appear to be descended from a younger son of the first Lord Oliphant. Their DNA will therefore, be different from the Kellie Oliphants, who broke away from the chiefly line in the mid 1300s. I expect that most Oliphants will be variants of the Kellie line and that the Caithness will be one of the most different and therefore a blue-print for the Perthshire Oliphants (more recent descendants of the Lords/chiefs), as well.

2/. Aberdeen

Their origins are unknown, so it will be interesting to see whether they are similar to the Kellie Oliphants or whether they are closer to the Caithness Oliphant DNA. I have long suspected the latter (that they are closer to the Caithness), though time will tell.

3/. Fife (Kellie)

We need to be quite careful here, before we decide which the Kellie DNA is. The problem being that many other families of Oliphants have also moved to Dysart, Kirkcaldy and Burntisland. The upside is that Crail, Pittenweem and Anstruther (Easter and Wester) are thought to be populated only by Kellie Oliphants.

People from this branch would have moved to London, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Many Oliphants, who have lost their genealogical trail, will find that they are from this line, including (we believe) the Oliphants of Culteuchar/Carpow/Pitkeathley/Pitheavlis and Bachilton. The Ol yphants are descended from this line (Culteuchar and Carpow) and so it will help us to confirm their ancestral roots as well (they have also agreed to be tested - they are 5/. below).

4/. Northern Ireland

This line is going to be very important to us. There is a significant line in America who are descended from a William Oliphant who came from Ireland. Their DNA is said to resemble Niall (Irish) DNA. What we are looking for is an Oliphant with what is called a "bridge" DNA, closely resembling this line of American Oliphants and yet similar to the rest of the Oliphants, to prove that theirs is a variation of the same DNA as the other Oliphants. Time will tell.

5/. A Perthshire family, thought to be descended from Kellie

The Carpow Olyphants, as mentioned above, probably Kellie Oliphants. Their DNA should tell us. I suspect, though do not know, that Ninian Oliphant, from the Borders, is from this family, as this is a name used exclusively by the Culteuchar Oliphants, which they did repeatedly.

6/. Roxburghshire

A tantalising dynasty. There are clues leading in several directions in this family. They had a sword used at Flodden. They lived down near the Border with England, where the battle took place. Their earliest ancestors were called Olipher and also Oliver. Their DNA is a match with Olivers and all the other families associated with the Olifards. So who are they? Hopefully the other tests will tell us much more about this line. I suspect that they will have similarities with the Olivants, who in turn, we suspect are descended from the Kellie line. Unfortunately, we are not testing Olivants yet but I live in hope. Nevertheless, the Kellie line may prove a close match - or not.

7/. Another Perthshire family, whose origin is possibly known but could also
be Kellie or the Lords Oliphant

There is a firm of bakers in Linlithgow called Oliphants. They have been bakers there for over 150 years. They are from Forgandenny and their earliest ancestor was a chap called Peter or Patrick Oliphant who was born circa 1695. This Peter moved to Forgandenny from near Gask. As it happens, there were Oliphants in Forgandenny who had a son of the right name and vintage and it could be him. The other alternative is that he could be an Oliphant from the Turin branch, as some of them settled near to Gask. We will be able to clear this up eventually, but it will be interesting to know whether their DNA matches the Kellie or Caithness Oliphants most closely.

8/. A Glasgow family, whose origin is unknown.

This family's DNA is fairly similar to the Roxburghshire Oliphants, though I think that the closest match will be in Fife. Again the DNA of others will tell us more about this family.

9/. Olifents

This family's earliest ancestor, currently known, was named Smith (not Oliphant/Olifent etc.). They changed their name to Olifent and the family's tradition is that they were originally Oliphants. Their tradition is also that they were descended from the Lords Oliphant. In Australia some members of the family use an unusual Oliphant motto. It all adds up to the Oliphants of the Pitheavlis/Carpow branch. We are hoping that they will be a match for Oliphants (rather than Smiths) and that they can be "placed". It was as a result of the Olifents specifically requesting, that 5/. (above) were asked and agreed, to have their DNA tested.

The Montrose Oliphants

No response to the DNA project yet, though they and we will benefit from their testing. It looks as though they came from Aberdeen, though this may just be a co-incidence (DNA would tell us, since we will have the Aberdeenshire test back in a month or two). Montrose is also not far from Turin, which is east of Forfar. A Forgandenny Oliphant family also moved to Turin House, just to confuse matters. Even more confusing, is that one of the Linlithgow bakers is a spitting image for one of the Montrose Oliphants.

William Oliphant, Jeweller in Austin Texas

This is another DNA which would be good to have, he was stated as having been born in the parish of Dunfermline (which includes the Kinneddar Oliphants) and his profession was one which was traditional to the Kinneddar Oliphants. His DNA should compare well with the Forgandenny family and possibly with the Montrose family. I also suspect that the early American Oliphant dynasties will also compare closely with this line. It is a case where we need them more than they need us!

Ollivants/Olivants/Olleveants

We do not have a testee from this group either. They are probably from the Kellie branch and are, by their own tradition, a relic of the Oliphants stranded after the Battle of Flodden. They should link with a number of families. There are so many of them that it seems likely that a testee will emerge very soon.

Yours aye,

Roddy.

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