Origins of the Name

The surname Elphinstone is derived from the territory of Elphinstone in the parish of Tranent, meaning ‘of Elphinstone.’ The original people of this name are believed to have been known as ‘de Erth’. Later still they were known as ‘Elfinstun’. The people of the Clan Elphinstone are believed to have originated from the lands of Airth in Stirlingshire. They were called de Erths and erected a castle nearby and through marriage inherited lands near Tranent in East Lothian. These lands came to be known as Elphinstone. Deeds dating from 1235 from this area bear the name ‘de Elfinstun’ and grants dating from 1250 record the name John de Elphinstone as a witness. Sir John Elfinstun married Margarot Seton of Clan Seton she was also the niece of King Robert I of Scotland also well known as Sir Robert the Bruce.



15th Century

A descendant, William Elfinstun, became rector of Kirkmichael at the age of twenty-five. He studied Civil and Canon Law in Paris, eventually becoming Professor of Law in that university. In 1484 he was appointed Bishop of Aberdeen and later Lord High Chancellor of Scotland, a post he held until the death of King James III of Scotland in June of 1489. In 1494 he was given a bull from Pope Alexander VI for founding the University of Aberdeen. He died in 1514.



16th Century & Anglo Scottish Wars

In the 16th Century during the Anglo-Scottish Wars a cousin of William Elfinstun called Sir Alexander Elphinstone led the Clan Elphinstone at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513 where he was slain, fighting in support of King James IV of Scotland

Alexander’s son also called Alexander too over as chief and led the Clan Elphinstone at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1547 where he was killed. The fourth Lord Elphinstone was appointed in 1599 as a judge of the Supreme Court of Scotland in 1599 and later Lord high Treasurer.



18th to 19th Centuries & the Napoleonic Wars

The eleventh Lord Eliphinstone was lieutenant governor of Edinburgh Castle. One of his younger brothers called George Keith Elphinstone was a successful and distinguished naval commander. The squadron of ships which served was used to protect British shipping interests off the eastern coast of America. In 1795 he was made vice admiral and commanded the fleet which captured the Cape of Good Hope and compelled the Dutch fleet to surrender without firing a gun. His reward was an Irish barony. He was later promoted to the rank of admiral, and created Baron Keith of Banheath, only to be advanced once more, to the rank of Viscount in 1814. William George Elphinstone, the Viscount’s nephew was a Colonel and fought against the French at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 during the Napoleonic Wars.



Clan Chief

The present Chief of Clan Elphinstone succeeded as 19th Lord Elphinstone in 1994 at the age of 14.



Clan Castles

      Airth Castle

      Kildrummy Castle

      Airth Tower

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