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Clan MacDuff

Clan MacDuff

Clan Duff claims descent from the royal Scoto-Pictish line through Queen Gruoch, wife of Macbeth. After the death of the king, her second husband, her son Luclach was murdered in 1058. Malcolm III seized the Crown and his son, Aedh, married Queen Gruoch's only living granddaughter. He was created Earl of Fife and hereditary abbot of Abernethy. Fife, symbolically representing the ancient royal line of his wife, became the undisputed second man of the kingdom. He bore on his shield the red lion rampant and was accorded the right to enthrone the king of Scots at his coronation. In 1306 Duncan Mac Duff, Earl of Fife, was a minor held by Edward I of England as his ward, and so his sister, Isabel, Countess of Buchan, placed the golden circlet upon the head of Robert the Bruce. For this act, she was imprisoned in a cage suspended from the walls of Berwick Castle when she later fell into the hands of the English army. The earldom was forfeited in 1336 for treason, and passed into the hands of Robert Stewart, later Duke of Albany and Regent of Scotland. In 1404, David Duff received a charter from Robert III to the lands of Muldavit in Banffshire. John Duff sold Muldavit in 1626, but his half-brother, Adam, was a man of ability who acquired considerable wealth and laid the foundation for the ultimate prosperity of the family. His son, Alexander, improved the family's estates in Banffshire, which further extended by marriage to Helen, the daughter of Archibald Grant of Ballentomb. William Duff, MP for the county of Banff, was created Earl Fife and Viscount Mac Duff in1759. The new earl's claim of descent from the great Mac Duffs had some merit but has never been genealogically established. James, the 4th Earl Fife, fought with distinction during the Peninsular War of 1808-14 and was honoured for his services with the Order of the Thistle. The 6th Earl Fife, married Princess Louise, the Princess Royal, eldest daughter of the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII. He was advanced to the highest rank of the peerage as Duke of Fife in 1889. By a special reservation in the patent creating the dukedom, the title was to pass, in default of a male heir, to the duke's eldest daughter, Princess Alexandra, and if she produced no male heirs, to her sister Princess Maude. In 1923, Princess Maude married Lord Carnegie, who was later to succeed to his father's title as Earl of Southesk and chief of the Carnegies. The dukedom of Fife has now passed to the Carnegie chiefs. The ancient red lion on gold of Fife is today borne on the shield of Wemyss of Wemyss, direct descendents of the ancient Mac Duff earls.

Septs of Clan MacDuff:
Duff, Fife, Fyfe, Spence, Spens, Wemyss, Weems

A demi lion rampant, gules, holding in the dexter paw a gagger, proper, hilted and pommelled

Deus juvat

God assists


Mac Dhuibh

Gaelic dubh (black)

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