Oliphant, Laurence (1529-1593) (DNB00)

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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 (Reg. P. C. Scotl. i. 347). In 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 twenty-four hours under pain of being treated as rebels (ib. pp. 447–8). 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 band 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, archbishop of St. Andrews, he was admitted a member of the privy council (ib. p. 509). 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 Aug. 1568 denounced a rebel and put to the horn (ib. p. 633); but on 5 April 1569 he signed a ‘band for the king’ (ib. p. 654), and on 16 June again appeared as a member of the privy council (ib. p. 670). He was one of 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 (Labanoff, Lettres de Marie Stuart, ii. 271). He attended the convention at Perth on 31 July of the same year, and voted against the queen's divorce from Bothwell (Reg. P. C. Scotl. ii. 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 Oct. (ib. pp. 37–40) and 22 Nov. (ib. 57–8).

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 her to ‘enter into such conditions with the Queen's Highness in Scotland as may be honourable for all parties’ (Calderwood, ii. 550). Killigrew, in a letter to Burghley in 1573, mentions that Oliphant joined the anti-Marian party after Morton's succession to the regency (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1572–4, entry 761); 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 (Reg. P. C. Scotl. ii. 135). After the retirement of Morton from the regency, Oliphant attended the meeting of the parliament in the castle of Stirling on 16 July 1578, presided over by the king (Moysie, Memoirs, p. 12). In November 1580 he was charged to answer before the council for an attack on Lord Ruthven (ib. p. 28; Hist. James the Sext, p. 100), and on 7 Dec. caution was given for him in 1,000l. that he would on the 9th enter into ward in the castle of Doune in Menteith (Reg. P. C. Scotl. iii. 335). Subsequently disputes between him and the Earl of Caithness occupied the frequent attention of the privy council (ib. iv. passim). Oliphant died at Caithness on 16 Jan. 1593, and was buried in the church of Wick. By Lady Margaret Hay, second daughter of 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 whereof they were all sunk, or, as others report, after they had rendered, they were hanged upon the mast of the ship’ (History, iv. 46). 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 (Cal. Scottish State Papers, 1509–1603, pp. 431, 570).

[Reg. P. C. Scotl. vols. i.–iv.; Cal. State Papers, Scotl. Ser. and For. Ser. Eliz.; Notes and Queries, 7th ser. ix. 363; Hist. James the Sext, and David Moysie's Memoirs, both in the Bannatyne Club; Calderwood's History of the Church in Scotland; Anderson's Oliphants in Scotland, 1879, pp. xl–lxii; Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), ii. 334.]

T. F. H.