Elphinstone Clan

Elphinstone Clan Crest: A demi-lady, from the girdle upwards, richly attired in red, arms extended, the dexter hand holding a tower and in the sinister, a laurel branch, all Proper

Elphinstone Clan Motto: Cause Causit (Cause caused it).

Elphinstone Clan History: THE village of Elphinstone is next to Tranent in East Lothian, and the family name first appears in a deed relating to Alanus de Swinton in the early thirteenth century. It is suggested that it was his son John who first acquired the surname of Elphinstone for his family. There is, however, a family tradition that descent can be traced from a Flemish knight of the name of Helphenstein.

The family rose to prominence in the fourteenth century when Sir Robert de Elfinstun married a niece of King Robert I.

In 1484, William Elfinstun, who had studied law in Paris, became Bishop of Aberdeen and was later appointed Lord High Chancellor of Scotland. Having founded the University of Aberdeen, he was honoured by Pope Alexander VI. His cousin Alexander, 1st Lord Elphinstone, was among the Scottish nobility who fell with their king at the Battle of Flodden in 1514.  These were violent times and in 1547, Alexander, the 2nd Lord Elphinstone died at the Battle of Pinkie.

In the centuries that followed, various members of the family engaged with the law and politics. The 4th Lord Elphinstone became a judge and later Lord High Treasurer. The 11th Lord Elphinstone was appointed Governor of Edinburgh Castle and his brother, Admiral George, compelled the Dutch Fleet to surrender the Cape of Good Hope without firing a gun. His nephew William Elphinstone fought at the Battle of Waterloo and in 1841, commanded the Bengal Army during the disastrous Afghan Campaign.  

John, 13th Lord Elphinstone was appointed Governor of Madras and then Bombay during the 1857 Mutiny. On his death, the title passed to his cousin and then on to a kinsman who became Lord in Waiting to Queen Victoria. The 16th Lord Elphinstone married Lady Mary Bowes Lyon, a daughter of the Earl of Strathmore & Kinghorne and a sister of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Surname distribution in Scotland: The Elphinstone surname is most common in Shetland, Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City, Angus and Dundee City.

Places of Interest:

Kildrummy Castle, Kildrummy, Aberdeenshire. The castle and lands of Kildrummy were granted to Alexander, 1st Lord Elphinstone, by King James IV in 1507. The first Lord made extensive improvements to the fortress, including the addition of Elphinstone tower house, which was constructed within the castle walls. The castle passed to the Erskine Clan in 1626.

Logie Elphinstone House, Pitcaple, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire. This castle was built in the late 1600’s on the estate of Laurence Elphinstone of Selmys. The original fortification was extended and renovated by generations of the Elphinstone family right through until the early 1900’s. Now a luxury venue for weddings with visits by appointment only.

Elphinstone Tower, near Ormiston, East Lothian. Residence of the Elphinstone Family from the 13th century.

Carberry Tower, East Lothian. Occupied by the Elphinstone Family from 1801, re-designed by the 15th Lord Elphinstone in 1861. It is currently run as a wedding and events venue.

Elphinstone Tower (also known as Airth Tower and Dunmore Tower), Dunmore, Perthshire. Ruined tower house built in 16th century by Sir John Elphinstone.

Elphinstone Clan membership certificates.