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The Elphinstone Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: CAUSE CAUSIT (Cause caused it)

Your family, the Elphinstones, have a rich and intriguing history that spans several centuries. It all began with the ‘de Erth’ family, who took their name from the lands of Airth in Stirlingshire, where they likely built the first Plean Castle. Eventually, the de Erth family ended, and their lands were acquired near Tranent in East Lothian, possibly named after the heiress’s family.

The name ‘Elphinstone’ first appeared around 1235 in East Lothian in a deed by Alanus de Swinton, mentioning the name ‘de Elfinstun.’ It is believed that John, the son of de Swinton who owned the lands, adopted the name John de Elfinstun. There are different theories about the origin of the name, one suggesting Flemish knights called Helphenstein and another proposing it derives from ‘Alpin’s tun,’ meaning the farmstead of Alpin.

In the late 13th century, two lairds named Elphinstone, both from Berwickshire, are recorded in the 1296 Ragman Roll, pledging loyalty to Edward I of England. Sir John de Elfinstoun married Margaret Seton, who was a niece of Robert the Bruce. A notable descendant, William Elfinstoun, achieved great success. He became the rector of Kirkmichael at a young age, studied law in Paris, and eventually became a Professor of Law there. In 1484, he became the Bishop of Aberdeen and later held the esteemed position of Lord High Chancellor of Scotland. He even obtained a papal bull for the foundation of the University of Aberdeen, leading to the establishment of King’s College in 1500. Another prominent figure was Sir Alexander Elphinstone, who was created Lord Elphinstone by James IV of Scotland but tragically lost his life at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. His son, Alexander Elphinstone, also perished in battle, specifically at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1547.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, various members of your family played important roles in law and politics. The fourth Lord Elphinstone served as a judge and later held the position of Lord High Treasurer. Moving ahead, the eleventh Lord Elphinstone had a younger brother named George Keith Elphinstone, who made a name for himself as a distinguished naval officer. His naval career included protecting British shipping off the east coast of America. George Keith Elphinstone was eventually elevated to the title of Baron Keith and later became a Viscount. His nephew, William George Elphinstone, also made his mark as a colonel at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. He went on to command the Bengal army in 1837 but unfortunately perished before facing a court-martial due to the disastrous Afghan campaign of 1841.

It’s worth mentioning that the village of Elphinstone, located near Tranent in East Lothian, has a strong connection to your family. The name ‘Elphinstone’ first appeared in a deed from the early 13th century related to Alanus de Swinton. There is a family tradition that suggests descent from a Flemish knight named Helphenstein.

In more recent times, your family’s connections continued to flourish. John, the thirteenth Lord Elphinstone, served as the Governor of Madras and later Bombay during the 1857 Mutiny. Upon his passing, the title passed to his cousin and then to a kinsman who became a Lord in Waiting to Queen Victoria. The sixteenth Lord Elphinstone even married Lady Mary Bowes Lyon, daughter of the Earl of Strathmore & Kinghorne and sister to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.”

This provides a chronological account of the historical background of the Elphinstone family, as requested, while using the perspective of one person telling another about their family history.

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Family Crest Motto: CAUSE CAUSIT (Cause caused it)

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