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Clan MacDuff is a Scottish armigerous clan, which is registered with Lyon Court, though currently without a chief. Moncreiffe wrote that the Clan MacDuff was the premier clan among the Scottish Gaels. The early chiefs of Clan MacDuff were the Earls of Fife. Today the Earls of Wemyss are thought to be the direct descendants in the male line of Gille Míchéil, Earl of Fife, thought to be one of the first Clan MacDuff chiefs.






The round tower of Abernethy, built for the Celtic abbey of which a branch of Clan MacDuff were hereditary Abbots.

The clan originates from the original Scotto-Pictish lines who created the Kings of Scotland and the Earldom or Mormaerdom of Fife. The direct male line of the Mormaer failed in 1353 after Edward I took Donnchadh IV prisoner in England. His aunt, Isabella, later gave the title to Robert Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany and Regent of Scotland. In 1425 the earldom was absorbed into the crown, not withstanding the clan retained it status as first among clans.

The title of The Fife returned with William Duff, 1st Earl Fife and Viscount Madcap in 1759. Later Alexander William George Duff, 6th Earl of Fife and 1st Duke of Fife, married the Princess Royal, HRH Louise (daughter of King Edward VII).

The direct line of the ancient house is in dispute and supposedly continued in Wemyss, and moreover, in the northern territories, families of Clan Duff emerged with no proof of royal descent. For this reason of non-proof of headship, MacDuff is still Armigerous.



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 Destiny. When the Stone of Destiny 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 Angus Douglas-Hamilton, 15th Duke of Hamilton.



Clan profile



“Clan Makduffe” tartan as published in 1842 in the Vestiarium Scoticum.

      Gaelic Name: MacDhuibh.

      Origin of Name: Dubh (Gaelic) (Black).

      Motto: Deus juvat (Latin) (God assists).

      Badge: Red whortleberry.

      Lands: Fife, Lothian, Strathbran and Strathbogie.

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