Gaffey History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

In ancient Scotland, the ancestors of the name Gaffey lived in the Kingdom of Dalriada. In those days the name Gaffey was used to indicate a person who dark-featured, peaceful person. The Gaelic name of the Clan is Mac Dubhshithe, which translates as black one of peace. One branch of the Clan on the island of North Uist was known as Dubh-sidh, meaning 'black fairy,' due to their whimsical association with the faerie folk.

Early Origins of the Gaffey family

The surname Gaffey was first found in on the Isle of Colonsay, where the eponymous ancestor of the Clan may be Dubhshith, also called Dubside, who was lector at the Cathedral on the sacred isle of Iona in 1164. As the name MacFee is one of the oldest of all Dalriadan surnames it appears in records as early as the reign of Alexander II, when Johannes Macdufthi was witness to a charter in Dumfriesshire. In 1296, Thomas Macdoffy swore an oath of allegiance to the king.

Early History of the Gaffey family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gaffey research. Another 226 words (16 lines of text) covering the year 1838 is included under the topic Early Gaffey History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gaffey Spelling Variations

The translation of Gaelic names in the Middle Ages was not a task undertaken with great care. Records from that era show an enormous number of spelling variations, even in names referring to the same person. Over the years Gaffey has appeared as MacFie, McFey, MacFee, MacDuffie, MacPhee, MacGuffie, MacCuffie, MacPhie, Maffie, Maffey, MacDubh-shithe (Gaelic) and many more.

Early Notables of the Gaffey family (pre 1700)

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

Ireland Migration of the Gaffey family to Ireland

Some of the Gaffey family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 89 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Gaffey family

The descendants of the Dalriadan families who made the great crossing of the Atlantic still dot communities along the east coast of the United States and Canada. In the American War of Independence, many of the settlers traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Clan societies and highland games have allowed Canadian and American families of Scottish descent to recover much of their lost heritage. Investigation of the origins of family names on the North American continent has revealed that early immigrants bearing the name Gaffey or a variant listed above include: James MacFee who settled in New Hampshire in 1718; John MacFee settled in Boston in 1766; George, John and William MacFee settled in Philadelphia between 1820 and 1840.


Contemporary Notables of the name Gaffey (post 1700) +

  • Major-General Hugh Joseph Gaffey (1895-1946), American Commanding General 4th Armored Division, North-West Europe (1944-1945) [1]


The Gaffey 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: Pro Rege
Motto Translation: For the King.


  1. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2012, March 5) Hugh Gaffey. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Gaffey/Hugh_Joseph/USA.html


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