|Motto||Deus juvat (Latin) (God assists).|
|Pipe music||MacDuff's Lament|
|Clan MacDuff has no chief, and is an armigerous clan|
|Historic seat||Macduff's Castle|
|Last Chief||Alexander William George Duff of Braco, 1st Duke of Fife|
|Died||29 January 1912|
Origins of the clan
The Clan Duff claims descent from the original Royal Scoto-Pictish line of which Queen Gruoch of Scotland, wife of Macbeth, King of Scotland was the senior representative. After the death of MacBeth, Malcolm III of Scotland seized the Crown and his son Aedh married the daughter of Queen Gruoch. Aedh was created Earl of Fife and abbot of Abernethy. The early chiefs of Clan MacDuff were the Earls of Fife. Sir Iain Moncreiffe wrote that the Clan MacDuff was the premier clan among the Scottish Gaels. Today the Earls of Wemyss are thought to be the descendants in the male line of Gille Míchéil, Earl of Fife, thought to be one of the first Clan MacDuff chiefs. Gille-michael MacDfuff was one of the witnesses to the great charter of David I of Scotland to Dunfermline Abbey.
14th and 15th centuries
In 1306 during the Wars of Scottish Independence, Duncan MacDuff, Earl of Fife was as a minor, held by Edward I of England at the coronation of Robert the Bruce as his ward while Duncan's sister, Isabella MacDuff, placed the golden circlet upon King Robert's head. As a result when she fell into the hands of King Edward's army she was imprisoned in a cage which was suspended from the walls of Berwick Castle. Duncan MacDuff later married Mary, the niece of King Edward and threw in his lot against the Bruce. However he was captured and imprisoned in Kildrummy Castle where he died in 1336. The Earldom later fell into the hands of Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, however although the MacDuff family lost their rank they continued to prosper. In 1384 the earl of Fife was described as capitalis legis de Clenmcduffe, meaning chief of the law of Clan MacDuff. In 1404 David Duff received a charter from Robert III of Scotland for lands in Banffshire.
17th, 18th and 19th centuries
In 1626 John Duff sold the lands in Bannfshire which his ancestor had acquired in 1404. The title of The Fife returned with William Duff, 1st Earl Fife and Viscount Macduff in 1759. James Duff, 4th Earl of Fife fought with distinction in the Peninsular War where he was wounded at the Battle of Talavera in 1809 and was later made a Knight of the Order of St Ferdinand of Spain.
Law of Clan MacDuff
The Earl of Fife and the Abbot of Abernethy were both "Capitals of Law of the Clan MacDuff". The law protected all murderers within ninth degree of kin to the Earl of Fife, as they could claim sanctuary at the Cross of MacDuff near Abernethy, and could find remission by paying compensation to the victims family.
The chiefs of the clan had the right to enthrone the King on the Stone of Scone. When the Stone of Scone was taken to England by Edward I of England, Robert I of Scotland had himself crowned King of Scots a second time, in order to be crowned by a member of clan MacDuff, the Earl of Fife's sister.
In 1425 the last Earl of Fife, Murdoch Stewart, Duke of Albany, was beheaded. The Clan MacDuff hereditary right of bearing the Crown of Scotland then passed to the Lord Abernethy. The current Lord Abernethy, and as consequence bearer of the Scottish Crown, is Alexander Douglas-Hamilton, 16th Duke of Hamilton.
- MacDuff History scotclans.com. Retrieved on August 27, 2007
- The Scottish clans andtheir tartans : with notes (1900?), Publisher: Edinburgh : W. & A.K. Johnston. Page 48.
- Clan Septs and Dependents electricscotland.com. Retrieved 30 April, 2013.
- Way, George and Squire, Romily. Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). Published in 1994. Pages 419 - 420.
- Official Scottish Clans and Families electricscotland.com. Retrieved on August 27, 2007
- Moncreiffe of that Ilk, p.135-136.
- Grant, Alexander & Stringer, Keith J. (1998). Medieval Scotland: Crown, Lordship and Community. pp. 21 - 22. ISBN 0-74-860111-0.
- The Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707 (RPS) rps.ac.uk. Retrieved 30 April, 2013.