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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish

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

Scotland's coastal mountains and Hebrides islands were known in ancient times as the kingdom of Dalriada. The name MacDuffie evolved there as a nickname for a 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.


Spelling in the medieval era was a highly imprecise process. Translation, particularly from Gaelic to English, was little better. For these reasons, early Scottish names are rife with spelling variations. In various documents MacDuffie has been spelled MacFie, McFey, MacFee, MacDuffie, MacPhee, MacGuffie, MacCuffie, MacPhie, Maffie, Maffey, MacDubh-shithe (Gaelic) and many more.

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.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacDuffie research. Another 361 words (26 lines of text) covering the year 1838 is included under the topic Early MacDuffie History in all our PDF Extended History products.


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


Some of the MacDuffie family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 187 words (13 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Many settled along the east coast of what would become the United States and Canada. As the American War of Independence broke out, those who remained loyal to the crown went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of all of these hardy Dalriadan-Scottish settlers began to recover their collective history in the 20th century with the advent of the vibrant culture fostered by highland games and clan societies in North America. Highland games, clan societies, and other organizations generated much renewed interest in Scottish heritage in the 20th century. The MacDuffie were among the earliest of the Scottish settlers as immigration passenger lists have shown:

MacDuffie Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Rufus L. MacDuffie, aged 57, who arrived at New York City, NY, in 1924


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.


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  1. 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).
  2. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  3. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and David Hicks. The Highland Clans The Dynastic Origins, Cheifs and Background of the Clans. New York: C.N. Potter, 1968. Print.
  5. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  6. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  7. Bloxham, Ben. Key to Parochial Registers of Scotland From Earliest Times Through 1854 2nd edition. Provo, UT: Stevenson's Genealogical Center, 1979. Print.
  8. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  10. Warner, Philip Warner. Famous Scottish Battles. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1996. Print. (ISBN 0-76070-004-4).
  11. ...

The MacDuffie Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The MacDuffie 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 November 2011 at 08:54.

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