History of the Elliot Clan


Sources of Information - click on the link to go to that part of this page:


From the Elliot Clan website:

The Elliots have existed as a Clan with a recognized Chief at least from the time of King Robert the Bruce (1306-1329) to the present day. Before the Union of the Crowns in 1603, they held that part of the frontier with England known as "The Middle March" -- their Chief usually being appointed Captain of Hermitage Castle in Liddesdale, and they became famous as one of the great "riding" clans of the Scottish borders.

Later the Elliots were notable for the part they played as leaders in the expansion of Britain overseas, and in the settlement of the New World, where their independence of character for which the Clan has always been renowned, made them particularly welcome. In the modern world, the Elliots have prospered and the Clan is now widely spread throughout the world.

From "Scotland and Her Tartans"

"The Elliots, with the Armstrongs, were the most troublesome of the great Scottish Border families in the Middle Ages, the Redheugh branch being regarded as the most influential of them.

Robert Elwold (or Elliot) of Redheugh fell at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, and from his third son came the Elliots of Arkleton.

The Stobs branch stems from 1584, and to it descended the Redheugh lands. Gilbert Elliot of Stobs (1651-1718), known as "Gibbie with the Golden Garters", was convicted of high treason in 1685 for plotting against the Catholic Duke of York, but was pardoned, and after the accession of William of Orange in 1689 he was knighted, appointed Clerk to the Privy Council, made a judge, and created Lord Minto.

His son Gilbert (1693-1766), Lord Justice Clerk of Scotland, was the father of the talented Jane Elliot of Minto (1727-1805), author of the best version of all of the traditional song The Flowers of the Forest, commemorating the Battle of Flodden in 1513.

This line also produced Gilbert (1751-1814), 1st Earl of Minto, Governor-General of India 1806-13, and Gilbert (1847-1914), 4th Earl, Governor-General of Canada 1898-1904 and Viceroy of India 1905-10.

The headship of the family resides with descendants of the 1st Baronet of Stobs, grandson of "Gibbie" by his fourth son."

(Excerpt from "Scotland and her Tartans" by Alexander Fulton, (c) 1991 CLB Publishing, Godalming, Surrey, England)

From "Scottish Clans and Tartans"

The Elliots were a famous, indeed notorious, Border clan, like the Armstrongs. Their territory was around Upper Liddesdale, where they conducted their more or less profitable banditry for many centuries. The principal family in the early days was the Elliots of Redheugh, who often held the captaincy of Hermitage Castle -- still to be seen, squat and impregnable, on the moors south of Hawick. One of the Elliots of Redheugh, forefather of the Elliots of Arkleton, fell at Flodden (the beautiful lament for that disaster, The Flowers of the Forest, was written by Jane Elliot, sister of Sir Gilbert Elliot, first Baronet of Minto in the 18th century).

The Elliots of Stobs go back to Gawain Elliot of Stobs in the late 16th century, who was descended from the Elliots of Redheugh. Since the 17th century, when Border plundering was finally suppressed, they have been the principal among the many cadet houses. Gawain was succeeded as Laird of Stobs by Gilbert, known as "Gibbie wi' the gowden gartens", and from one of his sons the baronets and earls of Minto are descended.

Of this line, several of whom were distinguished as judges and empire builders, the most famous were George Elliot, vegetarian and teetollar, who as governor of Gibraltar in 1779 conducted the heroic and successful defence of the Rock when it was besieged by Franco-Spanish forces, and Gilbert Elliot, first Earl of Minto, a notable Governor-General of India in the early 19th century.

His great grandson, Gilbert, fourth Earl of Minto (1845-1914), is remembered in the sporting world for having broken his neck riding in the Grand National. The mishap had no permanent effects and he was Governor-General of Canada before succeeding Lord Curzon as Viceroy of India in 1905. He was the chief architect of the Morley-Minto Reforms, regarded as dangerously radical in some circles at the time though, as it turned out, insufficient to stem the tide of Indian unrest.

The seat of the Earl of Minto is Minto House, in Hawick, and of the Eliot of Stobs, chief of the clan at Redheugh.

(Excerpt from "Scottish Clans and Tartans" by Neil Grant, (c) 1987 The Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd., Published by Country Life Books, an imprint of The Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd., England)

From "The Surnames of Scotland"

"Elliot, Eliot, Eliott, Elliott. The early form of this wll-nown Border name was Elwald or Elwold, for the full OE Aelfwald, and until the end of the 15th century the spelling of the name was fairly regular. Elwald and Elwold were common in OE times, and the name continued in use as a Christian name down to the period when surnames became common. It was a common name n the Borders, the original home of the Elliots. The form Elliot is used by the Minto family and most of the others on the Border, and Eliott is used by the family of Stobs. The four forms of the name are referred to in an old rhyme (shown further down this page).

"As very often happened in other instances, "Elwald" as a Christian name became extinct but survived as a surname. One of the earliest and most curious variants of the name was Elwand, which appears as early as 1502. The uniformity in the way of writing this name, which was, as already mentioned, maintained to the end of the 15th century, gave way in the 16th century to a rich variety of spellings, of which Armstrong gives no less than 70 examples, a number which really does not exhaust the list. Armstrong's list is reproduced here, with a few additions, as an illustration of the labor and difficulty encountered by one seeking for information on surnames at first hand:

"Singular: Aelwold, Allat, Dalliot, Eellot, Eleot (1624), Elewald, Eliot, Eliott, Ellat, Elleot (1655), Ellet, Ellett, Ellette, Elliott, Elliot, Ellioti, Elliswood, Ellot, Ellote (1639), Ellott, Elluat, Ellwald, Wllwod, Wllwodd, Ellwold, Ellwood, Elnuand, Elnwand, Eluand, Eluat (1556), Eluwand, Elvand, Elwaird, Elwald (1561), Elwalde, (1494), Elwat, Elwod, Elwold, Elwood, Elwoold, Elyot, Elyoth, Hellwodd, Illot, Ilwand, Eleot, Elwet, Elwett, Elwoode, Helewald.

"Plural: Aylewoodes, Aylewoods, Elioats, Eliots, Ellattis, Elliottes, Ellots, Ellottes, Ellottis, Ellotts, Ellwoods, Eluottis (1570), Elwades, Elwaldes, Elwets, Elwadis, Elwalds, Elwalls, Elwandis, Elwarths, Elwaths, Elwodds, Elwodis, Elwolds, Elwoodes, Elwoods, Elwoolds, Eylewoods, Ellyots, Elwatts, Elwottis, Eylwittes."

From Wikipedia

You can go to the page about the Elliot clan by clicking here. The clan name on that page is "Eliott". Extract:

Legend has it that the extra "t" in Eliott arose when a branch of the Eliotts adopted Christianity. The "t" was in reality meant to be a cross. The differences in spelling can be distinguished in this rhyme:

The double L and single T
Descent from Minto and Wolflee,
The double T and single L
Mark the old race in Stobs that dwell.
The single L and single T
The Eliots of St Germains be,
But double T and double L,
Who they are nobody can tell.

Robert Bell in "The Book of Scots-Irish Family Names" adds: "For double L and double T, the Scots should look across the sea!" He pointed out that 71 of 76 births of children by that name in Ireland in 1890 spelt it "Elliott." Elliot(t)s emigrated or were sent to Ireland in the early 17th century after the unification of the English and Scottish crowns. The Elliot(t)s were notorious reivers - cattle thieves - in the Scottish-English border area and, as such, a thorn in the side of both governments. Many settled in county Fermanagh.


Elliot Crest

Boldly and Rightly

Clan Chief

Clan Chief Margaret Eliott
Chief Margaret Eliott
Margaret of Redheugh
Roxburghshire TD9 0SB