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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish

Where did the Scottish Duff family come from? What is the Scottish Duff family crest and coat of arms? When did the Duff family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Duff family history?

The Picts were the ancient Scottish tribe where the ancestors of the Duff family lived. The name Duff comes from the Gaelic Dubh or the older Gaelic word Dub.


When the first dictionaries were invented in the last few hundred years, spelling gradually became standardized. Before that time, scribes spelled according to sound. Names were often recorded under different spelling variations every time they were written. Duff has been written Duff, MacDuff and others.

First found in Perthshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Pheairt) former county in the present day Council Area of Perth and Kinross, located in central Scotland, where one of the first records of the name was Duncan Duff who was witness to a charter in 1275.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Duff research. Another 182 words(13 lines of text) covering the year 1320 is included under the topic Early Duff History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Duff Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Duff family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 140 words(10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


The crossing to North America did not seem so great in comparison with the hardships many Scots endured at home. It was long, expensive, and cramped, but also rewarding. North America offered land and the chance for settlers to prove themselves in a new place. And many did prove themselves as they fought to forge a new nation in the American War of Independence. The ancestors of those Scots can now experience much of their once-lost heritage through the Clan societies and highland games that have sprung up across North America in the last century. A search of immigration and passenger lists revealed many important, early immigrants to North America bearing the name of Duff:

Duff Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Sir William Duff, who arrived in Virginia in 1712
  • Wm Duff, who arrived in Virginia in 1714
  • Donald Duff settled in S. Carolina in 1716
  • Thomas Duff settled in S. Carolina in 1716
  • Donald Duff, who arrived in South Carolina in 1716

Duff Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Patrick Duff, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1806
  • James Duff, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1807
  • William Duff, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1807
  • Anthony D Duff, aged 26, arrived in New York in 1807
  • James, Duff Jr., who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1808


  • Hilary Duff (b. 1987), American actor and singer born in Houston, Texas
  • Warren B. Duff (1904-1973), American film and television writer and producer
  • James Henderson Duff (1883-1969), American politician, governor of Pennsylvania (1947-1951), US Senator from Pennsylvania (1951-1957)
  • Major-General Robinson Earl Duff (1895-1979), American Chief of Army Security Agency (1951-1953)
  • Alan Duff (b. 1950), New Zealand novelist and newspaper columnist
  • Sir Arthur Antony Duff GCMG, CVO, DSO, DSC, PC (1920-2000), Director-General (DG) of MI5, the United Kingdom's internal security service, from 1985 to 1988
  • Sir Lyman Poore Duff (1865-1955), Canadian lawyer and judge in British Columbia
  • Lyman Poore Duff GCMG, PC, QC (1865-1955), Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada (1933-1944) and briefly served as Acting Governor General of Canada in 1931 and 1940


  • The Forefathers and Families of Certain Settlers in Western Pennsylvania by William Boyd Duff.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Deus Juvat
Motto Translation: God assists.


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  1. Catholic Directory For Scotland. Glasgow: Burns Publications. Print.
  2. Warner, Philip Warner. Famous Scottish Battles. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1996. Print. (ISBN 0-76070-004-4).
  3. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  4. Moody David. Scottish Family History. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0806312688).
  5. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  6. Browne, James. The History of Scotland it's Highlands, Regiments and Clans 8 Volumes. Edinburgh: Francis A Niccolls & Co, 1909. Print.
  7. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  8. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  9. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  10. Black, George F. The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3).
  11. ...

The Duff Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Duff Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 7 July 2014 at 14:19.

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