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Origins of the Name 
The Clan Elphinstone is believed to have originated from Airth in Stirlingshire. The surname Elphinstone derives from the territory of Elphinstone in the parish of Tranent, East Lothian. The original name is thought to have been 'de Erth', which later became 'Elfinstun', and finally 'Elphinstone'. The de Erths inherited lands near Tranent through marriage and built a castle there. Deeds dating from 1235 bear the name ‘de Elfinstun’, and grants dating from 1250 record the name John de Elphinstone as a witness. Sir John Elfinstun married Margaret Seton of Clan Seton, the niece of King Robert I of Scotland.
Some people believe that John de Elphinstone was previously named John de Swinton of Clan Swinton. Supporters of this theory claim that Clan Elphinstone, in common with many Borders clans, was founded from the Swinton Family.
15th Century 
A descendant, William Elphinstone, 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 Chancellor of Scotland, a post he held until the death of King James III of Scotland in June 1489. In 1494 he was given a papal bull from Pope Alexander VI to found the University of Aberdeen. He died in 1514.
16th Century & Anglo Scottish Wars 
In 1513 during the Anglo-Scottish Wars, a cousin of William Elfinstun, Sir Alexander Elphinstone, led the Clan Elphinstone at the Battle of Flodden Field. Sir Alexander was slain in the battle, fighting in support of King James IV of Scotland
Alexander's son, also called Alexander, took 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. His younger brother, George Keith Elphinstone, was a successful and distinguished naval commander. The squadron of ships he served on was used to protect British shipping interests off the eastern coast of America. In 1795 he was made vice-admiral and commanded the fleet that captured the Cape of Good Hope, compelling the Dutch fleet to surrender without a shot being fired. Elphinstone was rewarded for this victory with an Irish barony. He was later promoted to the rank of admiral, and created Baron Keith of Banheath. In 1814 he was raised to the rank of Viscount. William George Elphinstone, the Viscount's nephew, was a colonel who 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 
See also