McDuff to McDuffee/MacFie

Our SCOTS-IRISH History by Sue & Marilyn/2004; (A progress in learning)


Genealogical & Family Histories of the State of Vermont, by Hiram Carleton, 1903:

John McDuffee, who with his wife, removed in 1612 from Argyllshire, Scotland to Londonderry, Northern Ireland. This John was a direct descendant of King Kenneth McDuff of Scotland, and also a descendant of Duncan McDuff, who was born about 1,000 A.D., and was the celebrated Thane of Fife and the greatest chief of those who labored to restore King Malcolm III to his throne, who had been usurped by MacBeth. In return for his loyalty and valor, Duncan McDuff was made first officer of the crown and given a very noteworthy coat-of-arms typifying his victory over MacBeth. He was also given the fee to a large tract of land, and the name of McDuff became McDuffee.

McDuffee/Macfie Historical Reference, by Jay McAfee, 25 Apr 2013:

Clan Mac Fie is supposed to be a branch of the race of Alpine; the name is spelt in a variety of ways. Dubhsith in Gaelic has passed into Duffie in English, which in its MacDuffie form has passed into MacFie, which is also spelt Macafee, Macfee and Macphee, the name implying dark colored tribe. After the Norse occupation, Colonsay, in the county of Argyle, fell under the sway of the Lords of the Isles. In 1549 Archdeacon Munro informs us that "The lle is bracket be ane gentle capitaine callit McDuffyhe, and pertained of auld to Clan Donald of Kintyre." The MacDuffies, or MacPhees, seem to have possessed the island for a considerable time. On the tombstones of Oronsay they figure as warriors and ecclesiastics.

The name of the family was originally MacDuff, but it is said that on the accession of King Malcolm to the throne of Scotland, about the year 1050, he gave to the representatives of this branch a tract of land in the country of Fife as a reward for services, and he added "fee" to the name, indicating a gift from the crown, and thus McDuff became McDuffie. A coat-of-arms was given to the family at the same time, which in the Scotch heraldry was a lion rampant with a sword in his paw, guarding the crown and Kingdom of Scotland, having three hawks under his feet, representing the three witches who were met by MacBeth, and a thorn bush representing Birnan Wood.   Motto: Pro Rege!

The tomb of the early MacDuffies is shown on the island of Iona, Scotland, and over the grave of Malcolm MacDuffie there is a monumental stone on which there is a Celtic inscription, giving to him many honorable characteristics. In the "Lord of the Isles," by Sir Walter Scott, the name is given as "McDuffith, Lord of Colonsay."

Jun 2013: We have solved an old mystery! We never knew Rachael's maiden name until now and it is COLLINS! She was "married to a man named Murlie who was killed by the Indians" - we now know that she was married to William Edmund Murley, "the soldier", and they had two daughters, Mary and Nancy. After the death of William, Rachael married Robert McDuffe in Washington County, Pennsylvania. In the spring of 1790, they moved to Kentucky and had several children. Please go to her memorial, 42068521,  at - all of their information is there!

Oct 2011: We are now watching McDuffie/McDuff DNA results at Family Tree DNA =

Nov 2008:  Because of our family research, we have come to understand some of the realities of our ancestors daily lives. We believe that Robert and Rachel were possibly the first immigrants to America - he from Ulster and she from Virginia (we once thought she was from Scotland, but that idea was proven wrong). We know that Rachel married Robert McDuffe or McDuffee, after her first husband, "a man named Murlie who was killed by Indians" - most likely in Pennsylvania. In 1781, Robert purchased 50 acres on Peters Creek in Peters Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania. In 1784, a daughter, Catherine, was born. On November 24, 1786, their first son, Robert, Jr., was born.

They sold their property on Peters Creek, January 27, 1790, and decided to move to Kentucky. But, in order to do this (it is very likely) that they had to build, or have someone build, a flatboat (about the cost of $30) to navigate down the great Ohio River - the most convenient way to reach Kentucky in 1790. In Kentucky, on the south side of the river, lay the busy Ohio River port of Limestone, later renamed Maysville. This is obviously where Robert, Rachel, and their small children landed in the spring of 1790. Next, Robert and Rachel settle their family on Beaver Creek just a few miles inland from Maysville in Bourbon County, Kentucky. On 12 May 1791, they were blessed with their second son, Gabriel Columbus McDuffe.

Oct 2008:   We continue to research with family and friends, but for now we are watching DNA Results on the McDuffie DNA Surname Project: AND Family Tree DNA =

Jan 2007:  We hope this year will be a revealing one for genealogy! We think it is time to give an overview of our semi-intensive "labor of love" which is an ongoing project in searching out more information about our 4th great grandparents, Robert and Rachel McDuffe. We know, from our family gedcom, that Robert was from Ireland, probably Ulster. We have traced Robert and Rachel back to Washington Co., Pennsylvania in the 1780s, but anything before that is most likely lost to time. We know they had three children in Washington Co., PA., then seven more in Harrison Co., KY. Since 2002, we have been interacting with other family researchers in trying to break through the "brick wall". Being adventurous and trying to "jump-start" this brick wall, our brother submitted a DNA sample in June, 2005, and to our surprise, we are not of the McDuffie line, as we thought, but rather MacDuff. Not in Group 1 but in Group 5 on the McDuffie DNA Surname Project. About the same time, we noticed that Robert and his sons signed their surname as McDuffe, and not McDuffee/ey/ie/y, on old documents of the early 1800's! So, when we received the DNA results, it proved the MacDuff surname!

2004:  My sister and I have been searching for our Scots-Irish family roots, for the past few years, with the help of the internet. In the 60's, I helped my Dad look through the attic and found an old paper written by his grandfather, Joseph, just three years before he died. I kept this paper because it had information about his life, education, and parents, Wesley and Mary Jane (Stallard) McDuffee, where they were married and lived. This started my search. I wrote to the Rush County Court House in Indiana and obtained a copy of their marriage certificate of May 15, 1842. Now we search for more information on our 4th great grandparents, Robert and Rachel McDuffe, and we're trying to find any information on his parents. Thanks to great-grandpa Joe and now the internet we've found that we belong to a rather large family that reaches back into ancient Scottish history!

If anyone has family information or photos to share with us, please email Sue at:





 The Frontiersmen: A NarrativeCurrently Reading:

The Frontiersmen by Allan W Eckert

a "must read" for ancestors who moved to Kentucky




Beautiful WastelandCurrently Listening To:
Beautiful Wasteland
see related






MacDuffee Clan Society of America

I am a Member of MacDuffee Clan Society of America /

New News!

31Jul2017: After eight long years of researching with family and friends, we have come to believe that Robert is the son of Robert and Agnes McDuffe of Monmouth Co, New Jersey. See Robert's memorial number 42068464 at FindAGrave. We now have a full family link that we believe is correct - until proven wrong!

June, 2007:  At this point in time, we cannot say for certain how Robert & Rachel came into this country. There could be a few possibilities that I can think of, first:  1) Robert came from Ireland, probably Ulster, (with or without parents) to Philadelphia in the big rush of 1770 to 1775;  2) because of new information*, he (with or without parents) may have come through the Carolinas, then headed north; a 3rd possibility is that Robert's grandparents or great-grandparents could have been in the 1718 group of travelers from Ireland who landed in Boston and then on to Nutfield/Londonderry, New Hampshire (there were McDuffe as well as McDuffie families in this group); and 4th, as I have found out, passages were cheaper if sailing to Canada. We have to keep looking!  *new info can be found on "Uncle Gabriel" page.

April, 2007:  Another daughter has been found for Robert & Rachel and, I believe, she is the first born! Her name is Murley McDuffe. She married John Brown on October 19, 1799 in Harrison Co., KY. This daughter, obviously, was also born in Washington Co., PA, as were her siblings, Catherine and Robert, Jr. I have uploaded the Marriage Agreement for her (please see below) that is signed by her father Robert McDuffe, Sr. You will recognize his signature because it is the same as he signed for Catherine and Robert, Jr. because they were not 21 years old.

November, 2006:  Robert & Rachel McDuffe have been found in Pennsylvania records! This is good news because we didn't know if anything could be found. We took a chance. Robert & Rachel lived on the south fork of Peters Creek in Peters Twp., Washington Co., PA from 1781 until they sold out in 1790 and moved to Kentucky. They built a log cabin on the banks of Beaver Creek and their 4th child, Gabriel, was born May 12, 1791 in Bourbon Co., KY. By the time their 5th child, Enoch, was born in 1794, the Beaver Creek area was zoned into Harrison Co., KY. Robert became a Justice of the Peace there from 1797 to 1802. In 1798, Robert & Rachel bought 119 acres on Beaver Creek for 110 pounds current money. They had five more children and lived there until death. You can see the 1790 deed on the "Grandfathers" page.         

1799 Marriage Agreement for Nancy Murley-McDuffe and John Brown - Harrison Co., KY

"Know all men by these present that we John Brown and Robert McDuffe (     ) and firmly bound unto James Garrard, Esq., Governor of Kentucky and his successors in the sum of fifty pounds current money and for payment (     ) and truly to be made to our said Governor and his assignees we bind ourselves our heirs (        ) jointly and severally firmly by these present seal with our seals and dated this 19th day of October 1799. The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas a marriage is shortly intended to be solemized between John Brown (..........) & Murley McDuffe, now should there be no lawful cause to obstruct said marriage, then the above obligation to be void else to remain in full force and virtue".    

Teste:     W. Moore, CHC = Clerk Harrison County 

                                                                                                                   John Brown          (Seal)

    Robt McDuffe          (Seal)

Kentucky Historical Society/2007

1799 Marriage agreement for Catherine McDuffe & Zacheus Key - Washington, Mason Co., KY

"Know all men by these present that we Zacheus Key and Robert McDuffe are held afirmly bound  with James Garrard, Esq., Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and his successors in office in the just and full sum of fifty pounds current money to which payment will truly to be made we bind ourselves, our heirs and jointly (     ) (     ) by these present sealed with our seals and dated the 25th day of December 1799. The condition of the above obligation is that whereas a marriage is intended to be had and solemnized between the above bound Zacheus Key and Catherine McDuffe, now if there be no legal obstruction to the same, then this obligation to be void else remain in full force and virtue". 

Zacheus Key          (Seal)

Robt McDuffe          (Seal)

Kentucky Historical Society/2006


1805 Pre-Marriage Agreement & 1806 Marriage Agreement for Robert McDuffe, JR. & Sally S. Taylor - Harrison Co., Kentucky

Know all men by these presents that we Robert McDuffy (McDuffe) & Jacob Taylor are held and firmly bound unto his Excellency, Christopher Greenup, Esqr., Governor of Kentucky and his successors in the sum of fifty pounds current money for payment well and truly to be made and done to our said Governor and his successors and we bind ourselves and every of our heirs (    ) and (        ) jointly and severally firmly by these presents sealed with our seals and dated this 1st day of May, 1805.
The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas a Marriage is shortly intended to be solemized between the above bound Robert McDuffy (McDuffe) and Sally Taylor, now should there be no lawful cause to obstruct said Marriage, then the above obligation to be void else to remain in force.

Witnesses present:
Robert McDuffe (seal)
Jacob Taylor (seal)
W. Moore, CHC = Clerk, Harrison County


Below is the 1806 document providing the only evidence of Robert McDuffe, Sr's name. In our family information, his first name is typed as John or John Robert, but I've never seen any record listing his name as John - and neither have any other family researchers. He always went by Robert and so did his son Robert, Jr. Pennsylvania records have listed him as Robert McDuffey, and Kentucky records, as Robert McDuffee, McDaffee, McDuffy, and MacDuffe. I believe he wrote the Marriage Agreement below because it differs from the one above, which was usually written by the Clerk, W. Moore.

May the 1st, 1806

This is to certify that Robert McDuffe, Sr. do give William Moore, the clerk of our county Harrison, leave to give Robert McDuffe, Jun.(Jr.), license to marry Sally S. Taylor, given under my hand and seal.   

Robt McDuffe (seal)

Jacob Taylor, Jr.

Ritchard Taylor

Family papers