Duff History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The original Gaelic form of Duff was O Dubhthaigh. The first portion of the name is the word "dubh," which means "black," while the second portion is likely an obsolete Irish forename. The sept claim descent from the ancient Heremon Kings of Ireland. Through O'Conner Faley, Lords of Offaley (now Offaly), they descend from "Cahir Mor, King of Leinster in the beginning of the second century. He divided his great possessions amongst his thirty sons in a Will called 'The will of Cahir More,' contained in the 'Book of Leacan' and in the 'Book of Balymote.' His posterity formed the principal families in Leinster." [1] O'Duffy was listed as one of these such families.

Early Origins of the Duff family

The surname Duff was first found in Connacht (Irish: Connachta, (land of the) descendants of Conn), where they held a family seat from very ancient times, and were one of the many families descended from the great Kings of Ireland called the "Three Collas." Descending from the Clan Colla was Duffy, Lord of Fermanagh.

However, "there are several distinct septs of O'Duffy. One belongs to the parish of Lower Templecrone in the diocese of Raphoe, Co. Donegal, the patron saint of which is the seventh century Saint Dubhthach, or Duffy. The Connacht sept, the centre of whose territory was Lissonnuffy or Lissduffy near Strokestown, named after them, was remarkable for the number of distinguished ecclesiastics it produced." [2]

Without a doubt, the oldest records of the family include: Muireadach Ó'Dubthaigh (Murdagh O'Duffy) (1075-1150), Archbishop of Tuam in the county of Connaught and Cadhla Ó'Dubthaigh, (Cele O'Duffy) Archbishop of Tuam, Ambassador to Henry II in 1175. [2]

The Monaghan branch of the family were principally found in Attyduffy or Attyduff [1] and "modern statistics show that it is now most numerous name in Co. Monaghan." [3]

Early History of the Duff family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Duff research. Another 266 words (19 lines of text) covering the years 1075, 1150, 1501, 1175, 1527, 1615, 1527, 1615, 1675, 1671, 1809 and 1871 are included under the topic Early Duff History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Duff Spelling Variations

Names from the Middle Ages demonstrate many spelling variations. This is because the recording scribe or church official often decided as to how a person's name was spelt and in what language. Research into the name Duff revealed many variations, including Duffey, Duff, Duffy, O'Duffey, O'Duffy, Duffe, O'Duffe, Doey, Dohey, Doohey, O'Dowey and many more.

Early Notables of the Duff family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family at this time was Father Eugene O'Duffy (c. 1527-1615), preacher and satirist on the apostate bishop Miler Magrath; The Most Reverend Patrick...
Another 26 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Duff Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Duff World Ranking

In the United States, the name Duff is the 2,163rd most popular surname with an estimated 14,922 people with that name. [4] However, in Newfoundland, Canada, the name Duff is ranked the 776th most popular surname with an estimated 54 people with that name. [5] And in Australia, the name Duff is the 934th popular surname with an estimated 4,234 people with that name. [6] New Zealand ranks Duff as 610th with 1,175 people. [7] The United Kingdom ranks Duff as 902nd with 7,600 people. [8]


United States Duff migration to the United States +

The 19th century saw a great wave of Irish families leaving Ireland for the distant shores of North America and Australia. These families often left their homeland hungry, penniless, and destitute due to the policies of England. Those Irish immigrants that survived the long sea passage initially settled on the eastern seaboard of the continent. Some, however, moved north to a then infant Canada as United Empire Loyalists after ironically serving with the English in the American War of Independence. Others that remained in America later joined the westward migration in search of land. The greatest influx of Irish immigrants, though, came to North America during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Thousands left Ireland at this time for North America, and those who arrived were immediately put to work building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. In fact, the foundations of today's powerful nations of the United States and Canada were to a larger degree built by the Irish. Archival documents indicate that members of the Duff family relocated to North American shores quite early:

Duff Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Sir William Duff, who arrived in Virginia in 1712 [9]
  • William Duff, who arrived in Virginia in 1714 [9]
  • 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 [9]
  • ... (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 [9]
  • William Duff, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1807 [9]
  • James Duff, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1807 [9]
  • Anthony D Duff, aged 26, who arrived in New York in 1807 [9]
  • James, Duff Jr., who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1808 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Duff Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Mr. William H. Duff, (b. 1869), aged 35, Cornish coachman travelling aboard the ship "Campania" arriving at Ellis, Island New York on 14th May 1904 en route to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA [10]
  • Mr. James Duff, (b. 1884), aged 21, Cornish stone mason travelling aboard the ship "New York" arriving at Ellis, Island New York in 1905 en route to Hartford, Connecticut, USA [10]
  • Miss Mary Ann Duff, (b. 1895), aged 10, Cornish settler travelling aboard the ship "St Louis" arriving at Ellis, Island New York in 1905 en route to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA [10]

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 [11]
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 [12]
  • 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 [12]
  • 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 [12]
  • ... (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
  • Mr. John Duff, (b. 1771), aged 29, British Convict who was convicted in Kent, England for life for burglary, transported aboard the "Earl Cornwallis" in August 1800, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [13]
  • Mr. James Duff, British convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Calcutta" in February 1803, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [14]
  • Mr. Patrick Duff, British convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for life, transported aboard the "Calcutta" in February 1803, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [14]
  • Robert Duff, a hatter, who arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Mr. James Duff, English convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for life, transported aboard the "David Lyon" on 29th April 1830, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land), he died in 1840 [15]
  • ... (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.)

West Indies Duff migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [16]
Duff Settlers in West Indies in the 18th Century
  • Anne Duff, who settled in Jamaica in 1774

Contemporary Notables of the name Duff (post 1700) +

  • Major-General Robinson Earl Duff (1895-1979), American Chief of Army Security Agency (1951-1953) [17]
  • 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 [18]
  • 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 [19]
  • 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 [20]
Ibrox disaster
  • David Cummings Duff (1948-1971), Scottish football supporter, from Glasgow who was at the Ibrox disaster on 2nd January 1971 when a human crush among the crowd killed 66 and injured 200 people he died of his injuries [21]
Lady of the Lake
  • Miss Margaret Duff, Irish traveller from County Tyrone, Ireland who sailed aboard the "Lady of the Lake" from Greenock, Scotland on 8th April 1833 to Quebec, Canada when the ship hit ice and sunk of the coast of Newfoundland on the 11th May 1833 and she survived the sinking


Suggested Readings for the name Duff +

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

  1. ^ O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)
  2. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)
  3. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, The Surnames of Ireland. Ireland: Irish Academic Press, sixth edition, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2366-3)
  4. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  5. ^ The order of Common Surnames in 1955 in Newfoundland retrieved on 20th October 2021 (retrieved from Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary corrected edition ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)
  6. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  7. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  8. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  9. ^ 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)
  10. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_ellis_island_1892_on.pdf
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ 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)
  13. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 13th August 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/earl-cornwallis
  14. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/calcutta
  15. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 3rd June 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/david-lyon
  16. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  17. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2012, January 24) Robinson Duff. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Duff/Robinson_Earl/USA.html
  18. ^ "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
  19. ^ "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
  20. ^ Mount Erebus, Memorial, Roll of Remembrance (Retrieved 2018, February 21st). Retrieved from http://www.erebus.co.nz/memorialandawards/rollofremembrance.aspx
  21. ^ Bradford City Football Club In memory (retrieved 22nd March 2021). Retrieved from https://www.bradfordcityafc.com/club/in-memoriam/


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