Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Scottish Side of the Family


My sister's and my grandmother was Mildred Christine MacDuffie, Birth 7 Nov 1898 in Geneva, New York, Death Jun 1978 in Albion, Orleans, New York. John McDuffee who moved in 1612 from Argyleshire, Scotland to Londonderry, Ireland is our 8th great grandfather. He is believed to be a direct descendant of King Kenneth McDuff of Scotland and of Duncan McDuff, Earl of Fife (born about AD1000). This fact may not be true because there are no genealogical records to support that and because the old Earldom of Fife became extinct in 1353 on the death of the 12th Earl. However, this fact cannot be dismissed because separate Duff, MacDuff, etc. families continued to figure prominently in Scottish history.

Shakespeare borrowed from the stories about King Kenneth and Earl Duncan, that were reported in Holinshed's Chronicles, Volume V: Scotland, when he wrote MacBeth. 
  • from page 233: King Duffe falls into a wasting disease, which prevents him from sleeping, and witches are found to be causing it.
  • page 234: The witches are discovered roasting a wax image of King Duffe over a fire and reciting enchantments. They confess that they meant to make the king waste away, and that the enchantments were to keep him from sleeping. The witches are burnt to death, and the king recovers his health. | Donwald tries to get the king to pardon certain rebellious kin and friends, but the king refuses. Donwald, at the urging of his wife plans the murder of the king.
  • page 235: In Donwald's castle (Forres), King Duffe rewards Donwald and others for their assistance in putting down a rebellion, then goes to bed. | Donwald and his wife feed the king's chamberlains plenty of meat and drink, making them fall fast asleep when they return to the king's chamber. | Donwald bribes four of his servants to cut the king's throat, then bury the body in the bed of a river, so that it would never be discovered. This was done because it was thought that a murder victim's body would bleed in the presence of the victim's murderer. | Meanwhile, Donwald stays up with the guards all night, then pretends great surprise when the king's bloody and empty bed is discovered. Donwald kills the king's chamberlains and blames the murder on them. | Donwald rushes about, pretending to be looking for other guilty parties, which raises suspicions about him, but no one dares say anything, because they're in his castle. | For six months after the murder neither the sun nor moon are seen, and great winds make people fear for their lives.
COLONSAY AND ORONSAY, Scottish Islands are the traditional homeland of our clan.  You can see a video of Colonsay, Scotland, on Youtube (just put in Colonsay, Scotland). As you will see our ancestors had a hard life making a go of things on Colonsay.

 Our branch of the MacDuffie's are a part of CLAN MACFIE, a "broken" clan. 

"Clan Macfie is one of the oldest Scottish Clans with a history going back before records were kept. The ancient name for our Clan is Macdubhsith. While literally meaning “dark man of peace”, sithe is also the term used for supernatural beings that populated the islands and the highlands and the term dubh (pronounced 'duff') or dark also had mystical and supernatural connotations. The ancestral homeland for the Macfies (MacDuffies) is the islands of Colonsay and Oronsay in the Western Isles of Scotland. 

In 1623, Malcolm, the last Chief of the Clan Macfie, was captured by the infamous Colla Ciotach MacDonald. He was tied to a Standing Stone, known as Carraig Mhic a’ Phi at Balaruminmore, on our ancestral island of Colonsay, and summarily shot. The Clan Macfie was dispossessed of its lands and dispersed as a “broken” Clan. 

That is, until 27th May 1981, when the Clan was reactivated and again formally recognised as an “active” Clan by the Lord Lyon. Macfies all over the world celebrate that date as Clan Macfie Day - a new ‘birthday’ for the Clan Macfie. As no hereditary Chief has been traced, a Ceann-Cath, or Clan Commander, was appointed to head the Clan. The current Clan Commander is Iain Morris McFie Esq. of Coulintyre, Kincraig, Kingussie, Scotland." (

Malcom's (the last chief of Clan Macfie) actual name was Malcom McDuffie. The Lord Lyon’s decision as to the Clan name may have reflected the fact that the first member of the Clan to register Arms with the Lyon court was a Macfie, in 1864.  The choice of Macfie instead of MacDuffee was a great disappointment to the MacDuffee Clan Society. 

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