Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Oliphant, Laurence (1691-1767)

OLIPHANT, LAURENCE (1691–1767), Laird of Gask, Jacobite, son of James Ogilvie, laird of Gask, by Janet, daughter of the Rev. Anthony Murray of Woodend, Perthshire, was born in 1691. The Gask branch of the Oliphants descended from William Oliphant of Newton, Perthshire, second son of Colin, master of Oliphant, slain at Flodden. The estate of Gask came into the possession of the family in 1625. The family possessed strong royalist sympathies. At the rebellion of 1715 the laird of Gask sent his two sons to support the insurgents, Laurence receiving a commission in Lord Rollo's regiment dated 2 Oct. 1715. He was present at the battle of Sherriflmuir, and in January 1716 he acted as one of the garrison's adjutants during the short time that the Pretender remained at Scone. After the suppression of the rebellion he remained for some time in hiding, but subsequently he was permitted to return home unmolested. He succeeded his father as laird of Gask in 1732. On the arrival of the Chevalier in 1745, he joined him at Blair Athole. So indignant was he with his tenants for refusing to take up arms that he laid an inhibition on their cornfields (Chambers, History of the Rebellion, ed. 1869, pp. 63-4); but the prince on arriving at Gask laughingly removed the inhibition. Laurence, eldest son of the laird of Gask, born 25 May 1724, acted as aide-de-camp of the prince at the battle of Prestonpans, and after the battle was sent by the prince to prevent the fugitive dragoons from taking refuge in Edinburgh. On his way thither he slew ten of them, and took a pair of colours. When the prince set out for England, he sent the laird of Gask back to Perth, to undertake, with Lord Strathallan, the civil and military government of the north, the duties discharged by Gask being chiefly those of treasurer. Both father and son were present at Falkirk and Culloden; and after the battle of Falkirk, when the prince's troop, on account of the slight resistance and rapid flight of the enemy, dreaded some ambuscade, young Gask and the eldest son of Lord Strathallan went down together from the hill towards the town of Falkirk, in the guise of peasants, to obtain information (Home, History of the Rebellion, p. 175). When the prince, after Culloden, declined further to continue the contest, the laird of Gask and his son fled eastward into Aberdeenshire, and, after remaining in hiding for about six months in the neigubourhood of the Dee, obtained, with other Jacobites, a passage in a vessel which landed them in Sweden on 10 Oct. 1746. Thence they passed south to France. The estates of Gask were seized by the crown and sold, but in 1753 they were purchased by some friends and presented to Oliphant. On the death of Chanes, seventh lord Oliphant, on 19 April 1748, Gask laid claim to the title, which, however, was assumed by Charles Oliphant of Langton, who died on 3 June 1751, and in his will acknowledged the laird of Gask to be heir to the title. The peerage was also confirmed to him by the Pretender in 1760. He was permitted to return home in 1763, but the attainder was not reversed. He died early in 1767. Oliphant married Amelia Anne Sophia, second daughter of William, second lord Nairne. His heir, Laurence, paternal grandfather of Carolina, lady Nairne [q. v.], the poetess, died on 1 Jan. 1792.

[Histories of the Rebellion; Anderson's Oliphants in Scotland; Kington Oliphant's Jacobite Lairds of Gask.]

T. F. H.