MACPHIE, or MACFIE, a contraction of Macduffie, the name of a clan
(in the Gaelic the Clann Dhubhie, or the dark coloured tribe,) which
held the island of Colonsay in Argyleshire, till the middle of the
17th century, when they were dispossessed of it by the Macdonalds.
They were a branch of the ancient Albionic race of Scotland, and
like all the tribes that claimed to be so, adopted the pine for
their badge. On the south side of the church of the monastery of St.
Augustine in Colonsay, according to Martin (writing in 1703), “lie
the tombs of Macduffie, and of the cadets of his family; there is a
ship under sail, and a two-handed sword engraven on the principal
tombstone, and this inscription: ‘Hic jacet Malcolumbus Macuffie de
Collonsay;’ his coat of arms and color-staff is fixed in a stone,
through which a hole is made to hold it. About a quarter of a mile
on the south side of the church there is a cairn, in which there is
a stone cross fixed, called Macduffie’s cross; for when any of the
heads of this family were to be interred, their corpses were laid on
this cross for some moments, in their way toward the church.”
Donald Macduffie is witness to a charter by John,
earl of Ross, and lord of the Isles, dated at the earl’s castle of
Dingwall, 12th April 1463 (Register of the Great Seal, lib. vi. No.
17.) After the forfeiture of the lordship of the Isles in 1493, the
clan Duffie followed the Macdonalds of Isla. The name of the
Macduffie chief in 1531 was Murroch. In 1609 Donald Macfie in
Colonsay was one of the twelve chiefs and gentlemen who met the
bishop of the Isles, the king’s representative, at Iona, when, with
their consent, the nine celebrated “Statutes of Icolmkill” were
enacted. In 1615, Malcolm Macfie of Colonsay joined Sir James
Macdonald of Isla, after his escape from the castle of Edinburgh,
and was one of the principal leaders in his subsequent rebellion. He
and 18 others were delivered up by Coll Macgillespick Macdonald, the
celebrated Colkitto (left-handed) to the earl of Argyle, by whom he
was brought before the privy council. He appears afterwards to have
been slain by Colkitto, as by the Council Records for 1623 we learn
that the latter was accused, with several of his followers, of being
“art and pairt guilty of the felonie and cruell slaughter of
umquhilo Malcolm Macphie of Collonsay.”
A branch of the clan Duffie, after they had
lost their inheritance, followed Cameron of Lochiel, and settled in
Lochaber. At the battle of Culloden several of them were slain.
Collonsay was acquired by the Argyle family
after they had expelled the Macdonalds, and in 1700 it came into the
possession of the Macneills, by whom it is now held.
Several gentlemen of the name of Macfie
have distinguished themselves as merchants, particularly in Greenock
and Liverpool. William Macfie, Esq., of Langhouse, who died in Nov.
1854, was for sometime Provost of Greenock.