a surname adopted from the Celtic, in which language the word means black.
Sibbald, in his History of Fife, says, “that as Niger and Rufus were names
of families amongst the Romans, from the colour and complexion of men, so
it seems Duff was, from the swarthy and black colour of those of the
tribe,” or clan of Macduff.
It is the family
name of the earl of Fife, in the Peerage of Ireland, descended from that
Duncan Macduff, Thane of Fife, who overthrew Macbeth, and gave such
effectual aid to Malcolm Canmore in obtaining possession of the throne.
See FIFE, earl of, and MACDUFF.
It is also the
patronymic of a family which enjoys the dignity and title of a baronet,
conferred, in 1813, on Sir James Duff, who for a series of years filled
the office of British consul at the port of Cadiz, and whose nephew, Sir
William Gordon, on succeeding to the title in 1815, assumed the name and
arms of Duff, in addition to his own. Their seats are Kinstair in Ayrshire,
and Crobie in Banffshire. See GORDON, surname of.
DUFF, KING OF SCOTLAND,
son of Malcolm the First, succeeded Indulph in 961. The name was Odo,
according to Pinkerton. By the Celtic part of his subjects he was surnamed
Duff, or the Black. His reign was constantly disturbed by Culen, the son
of Indulph, whom he vanquished in a war on Dromcrup; (perhaps Duncrub in
Perthshire is meant, now the seat of Lord Rollo.) After a short reign of
about four years, he was slain in Forres, about 965. He is said to have
been murdered by a band of assassins, who broke into his chamber by night.
In Buchanan’s History of Scotland it is stated that they were hired by
Donald, governor of the castle of Forres, that after the murder they
“carried him out so cunningly a back way, that not so much as a drop of
blood appeared,” and that the assassins were afterwards sent out of the
way by Donald, to avoid any of them being present, lest blood should issue
from the corpse. Pitcairn, who styles him King Duffus, cites this as the
earliest recorded notice in British history of the superstitious custom of
touching the dead body of a murdered person, as a proof of guilt. [Criminal
Trials, vol. iii. p. 191.]