Duff History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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.

Early Origins of the Duff family

The surname Duff was 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.

The Clan claim descent from Duff (Dubh, the Black) (d. 967), King of Celtic Alban. He was son of Malcolm and succeeded, in 962, Constantine as king. " In 965 Duff defeated Colin, the son of Indulph, supported by the abbot of Dunkeld and the chief of Athole at Drumcrub in Strathearn. Two years later Colin reversed this victory and expelled Duff, who, according to a later chronicle, was afterwards, when attempting to recover his kingdom, slain at Forres. His body was hidden under the bridge of Kinloss, and the sun did not shine till it was found and buried. An eclipse on 10 July 967 may have originated or confirmed this story." [1]

Early History of the Duff family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Duff research. Another 127 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1320 and are included under the topic Early Duff History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Duff Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Duff family (pre 1700)

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

Ireland Migration of the Duff family to Ireland

Some of the Duff family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 75 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Duff migration to the United States +

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 United States in the 18th Century
  • Sir William Duff, who arrived in Virginia in 1712 [2]
  • William Duff, who arrived in Virginia in 1714 [2]
  • Donald Duff, who settled in S. Carolina in 1716
  • Thomas Duff, who settled in S. Carolina in 1716
  • Donald Duff, who arrived in South Carolina in 1716 [2]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Duff Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Patrick Duff, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1806 [2]
  • James Duff, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1807 [2]
  • William Duff, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1807 [2]
  • Anthony D Duff, aged 26, who arrived in New York in 1807 [2]
  • James, Duff Jr., who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1808 [2]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Duff migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Duff Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Edward Duffell U.E. who settled in Carleton [Saint John City], New Brunswick c. 1784 [3]
Duff Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Catherine Duff, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1801
  • John Duff, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1801
  • Mr. John Duff, aged 40 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Rose" departing 19th April 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 1st July 1847 but he died on board [4]
  • Miss. Mary Ann Duff who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Naomi" departing 15th June 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 10th August 1847 but she died on board [4]
  • Mr. Thomas Duff, aged 6 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Tay" departing 22nd May 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 23rd June 1847 but he died on board [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Duff migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Duff Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Robert Duff, a hatter, who arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Mr. John Duff, (b. 1818), aged 20, English convict who was convicted in London, England for 7 years for shop lifting, transported aboard the "Bengal Merchant" on 24th March 1838, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [5]
  • John Finlay Duff, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Asia" in 1839 [6]
  • Ann Elizabeth Duff, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Asia" in 1839 [6]
  • Jessie Duff, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Asia" in 1839 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Duff migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Duff Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Duff, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1843
  • William Duff, aged 29, a groom, who arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Philip Laing" in 1848
  • Mary Marshall Duff, aged 29, who arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Philip Laing" in 1848
  • Adam Robert Duff, aged 4, who arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Philip Laing" in 1848
  • Marion Walker Duff, aged 2, who arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Philip Laing" in 1848
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Duff (post 1700) +

  • Major-General Robinson Earl Duff (1895-1979), American Chief of Army Security Agency (1951-1953) [7]
  • James Henderson Duff (1883-1969), American politician, governor of Pennsylvania (1947-1951), US Senator from Pennsylvania (1951-1957)
  • Warren B. Duff (1904-1973), American film and television writer and producer
  • Hilary Duff (b. 1987), American actor and singer born in Houston, Texas
  • Miss Catherine Mary Duff M.B.E., British Principal Solicitor for Legal Services Department for Police Scotland, was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire on 8th June 2018, for services to Law and Order [8]
  • Mr. Matthew Christopher Duff M.B.E., British Major for the Royal Corps of Signals, was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire on 29th December 2018 [9]
  • Sir Lyman Poore Duff (1865-1955), Canadian lawyer and judge in British Columbia
  • 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
  • Alan Duff (b. 1950), New Zealand novelist and newspaper columnist
  • 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

Air New Zealand Flight 901
  • Mrs. Helen Dora Duff (d. 1979), American passenger, from USA aboard the Air New Zealand Flight 901 for an Antarctic sightseeing flight when it flew into Mount Erebus; she died in the crash [10]


The Duff Motto +

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.


Suggested Readings for the name Duff +

  • 1912 "The Forefathers and Families of Certain Settlers in Western Pennsylvania" by William Boyd Duff.

  1. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  2. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  3. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  4. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 74)
  5. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 13th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/bengal-merchant
  6. ^ State Library of South Australia. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) ASIA 1839 from London with Captain Benjamin Freeman and 245 passengers, arrived Port Adelaide on 16-07-1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839Asia-list.htm
  7. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2012, January 24) Robinson Duff. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Duff/Robinson_Earl/USA.html
  8. ^ "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62310, 4 July 2019 | London Gazette, The Gazette, June 2018, https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/62310/supplement/B1
  9. ^ "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62507, 28 December 2018 | London Gazette, The Gazette, Dec. 2018, www.thegazette.co.uk/honours-lists
  10. ^ Mount Erebus, Memorial, Roll of Remembrance (Retrieved 2018, February 21st). Retrieved from http://www.erebus.co.nz/memorialandawards/rollofremembrance.aspx


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