MacDuff Clan

MacDuff Clan Crest: A demi-lion rampant holding a sword.

MacDuff Clan Motto: Deus Juvat (God assists).

History of Clan MacDuff:
It is claimed that Clan Duff represents the traditional Royal line of Scots and Picts which held the ancient privilege of crowning the Kings of Scotland. However, according to Black's The Surnames of Scotland, Macduff, Thane or Mormaer of Fifeis “ a half or wholly mythical personage.”

That having been said, the name MacDuff first appears in the reign of David I in the context of  Gillemichel mac duf. At the inauguration of Robert the Bruce as King of Scots at Scone in 1306, Isabel, Countess of Buchan, placed the golden circlet upon the King's head in the absence of her brother Duncan Macduff, Earl of Fife. For this act of defiance, Edward I of England had her taken prisoner and placed in a cage suspended from the walls of Berwick Castle.

The old Fife earldom passed to the Stewarts on Duncan's death in 1336 and became extinct in 1353. However, in 1404 David Duff received a Charter from Robert III for the lands of Muldavit in Banffshire. These were sold in 1626, but by then the family had become well established in the region through various tactical marriages.

In 1759, William Duff, who had served as Member of Parliament for Banff and become Lord Braco of Kilbride, was created Viscount MacDuff and Earl of Fife. A wealthy man, it was he who commissioned the building of the magnificent Duff House in Banffshire. 

James, 4th Earl of Fife,  became a Major General during the Peninsular War (1808-14), and Alexander, 6th Earl, was created Duke of Fife in 1889 when he married Queen Victoria's granddaughter, Princess Louise, the Princess Royal.

By special reservation, it was designed that the title should pass, in the absence of a male-heir, to the Duke's eldest daughter and, should she not produce a male-heir, to her sister. In 1923, Princess Maude of Fife, the younger sister, married Lord Carnegie, who was later to succeed to his father's title of Earl of Southesk and Chiefship of Carnegie.

Alexander Duff (1806-78), born at Pitlochry, was Moderator of the Free Church Assembly in 1851 and founded the University of Calcutta. Sir Mountstuart Duff (1829-1906) was Governor of Madras. Sir Robert Duff (1835-95) was appointed Governor of New South Wales.

Surname distribution in Scotland: The highest concentrations of the MacDuff name occur in Highland (includes the historic counties of Caithness, Inverness-shire, Nairnshire, Ross and Cromarty and Sutherland), Perth and Kinross (Perthshire and Kinross-shire) and Stirlingshire.

Places of Interest
Earlsferry or Elie, Fife. The name of this village on the Firth of Forth comes from the tradition that MacDuff, Thane of Fife, was ferried from here to Dunbar to escape from Macbeth in the 11th century.

The Cross of MacDuff, Newburgh, Fife. According to tradition, sanctuary could be claimed here by kinsmen of MacDuff.

Duff House, Banffshire. Designed by the architect William Adam, this if the former seat of the earls of Fife. It is now an outpost of the National Galleries of Scotland.

Dufftown, Banffshire. Founded in 1817 by James Duff, 4th Earl of Fife.

Macduff, on the Moray Firth. Burgh of Barony for the earls of Fife, 1783.

Associated family names (Septs): Duff, Fife, Fyfe, Fyffe, Hume, Kilgour, Spence, Spens, Weems, Wemys.

Clan MacDuff members display certificates.