The clan Duffie (in Gaelic, clann Dhubhie means
"the coloured tribe") or Macphie (generally spelt Macfie) appear to have been
the origional inhabitants of the island of Colonsay, which they held till the middle of
the 17th century, when they were dispossessed of it by the Macdonalds. They were probably
a branch of the ancient Albionic race of Scotland, and their genealogy given in the MS of
1450, according to Skene, evinces their connection by descent with the Macgregors and
On the south side of the church of the monastry 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 Macduffie de Collonsay'; his coat
of arms and colour-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. After the forfeiture of the Lord
of the Isles in 1493, the clan Duffie folowed 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 eighteen others were delivered up to Coll Macgillespick
Macdonald, the celebrated Colkitto, to the Earl of Argyll, 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 salughter of umquhill Malcolm
Macphie of Collonsay".
"From this period", says Skene, "their estate seems to have gone into the
possession of the Macdonalds, and afterwards of the Macneills, by whom it is still held;
while the clan fradually sunk until they were only to be found, as at present, forming a
small part of the inhabitants of Collonsay".
A branch of the clan Duffie, after they had lost their inheritance, followed Cameron of
Lochiel, and settled in Lochaber.
Another Account of the Clan
BADGE: Giuthas (pinus sylvestris) pine.
THE Siol Alpin, descended
from the early Scottish king of that name, and comprising the MacGregors,
Grants, Mackinnons, MacQuarries, MacNabs, and MacAulays, have always
prided themselves upon being the most ancient and noble of the Scottish
clans. In the well-known Gaelic MS. of 1450, Clan Dhubhie is shown to be
of the same descent. The prefix " dhu " in their name indicates
that they were of a dark race, which corroborates their Celtic origin, in
contrast with the fair-haired Norwegians who for so many centuries
colonised and dominated the Western Isles. Though the 1450 MS. details
their genealogy, little is known of their early history, except that they
were the most ancient inhabitants of the island of Colonsay. With that
island Oronsay is connected at low water, the two together making a
pleasant domain some ten miles long by one to three miles broad. Here St.
Columba and his companion St. Oran landed first on their way from Ireland
in the year 563, and gave their names to the islands. Here, in
consequence, a monastery of Canons Regular of St. Augustine was founded at
a later day, and colonised with monks from Holyrood. The priory, which
still stands on Oronsay, is, next to lona, esteemed the finest relic of
religious antiquity in the Hebrides. Martin, in his tour in the Hebrides
in 1703, describing it, says: "On the south side of the church
within, lie the tombs of Mac-Duffie 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 Mac-Duffie de
Colonsay‘: his coat of arms and colour-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 Mac-Duffie’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 on their way toward the church." The Malcolm
MacDuffie of Colonsay thus commemorated corresponds with a chief of this
name who appears in the 1450 MS., at the period to which experts assign
the carving of the stone. The "ship under sail" of the
description is the galley or lymphad which was the insignia of an Island
Martin also says,
"There is an altar in this church and there has been a modern
crucifix on it, in which several precious stones were fixed. The most
valuable of these is now in the custody of Mac-Duffie in Black Raimused
village, and it is used as a catholicon for diseases."
Monro, Dean of the Isles,
in his description of Colonsay, says the island "was the property of
ane gentle Captain called Mac Phie, but perteined of auld to clan Donald
of Kintire." This writer seems, however, to have put the cart before
the horse. The MacPhees came before the Macdonalds as owners of the
island. In early times, as was natural on account of their geographical
situation, the Chiefs of Colonsay appear to have been supporters of the
Macdonald Lords of the Isles. According to the Register of the Great Seal
(VI., 17), on 12th April, 1463, Donald MacDuffie appears as witness to a
charter by John Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles, executed at the Earl’s
castle at Dingwall. In the time of the Lords of the Isles MacPhee of
Colonsay is said to have kept the records of the Isles. After the
forfeiture of the last Macdonald Lord of the Isles in 1493, the MacDuffie
chiefs appear to have attached themselves to the Macdonalds of Islay. In
1531, there is mention of a certain MacDuffie chief, who bore the name of
Murroch, or Murdoch.
In the beginning of the
seventeenth century the Lairds of Colonsay were probably at the height of
their consequence. In 1609, Donald MacPhee of Colonsay was one of the
twelve chiefs and gentlemen who met the Bishop of the Isles, representing
the King, and at lona gave assent to the nine celebrated " Statutes
of Icolmkill." Shortly afterwards, however, the fortunes of the
family seem to have taken an unhappy turn. In 1615, on the escape of Sir
James Macdonald of Islay from Edinburgh Castle, he was joined by Malcolm
MacPhee of Colonsay, and in the troublous times which followed, the latter
was one of the chief leaders of disturbance. The business ended
tragically. Along with eighteen others he was delivered up to the Earl of
Argyll by Coll MacGillespie Macdonald, well known afterwards in the wars
of Montrose as "Colkitto," being Ciotach or left-handed. By
Argyll he was brought before the Privy Council. In the end he came to his
death by violence. In the Council Records for 1623 appears an entry
detailing an accusation against Colkitto of being " airt and pairt
guilty of the felonie and cruell slaughter of umquhill Malcolm Macphie of
From that time the estates
of the Chiefs appear to have passed into possession of the Macdonalds, and
at a later day they became a patrimony of the Macneils, while the MacPhees
became a "broken" clan, and their numbers formed only a small
proportion of the inhabitants of Colonsay.
A branch of the clan then
settled in Lochaber and attached itself to the Camerons, by whom it was
much esteemed for its bravery. At the battle of Culloden, when the
Camerons made the furious onset which nearly annihilated the Duke of
Cumberland’s left wing, the MacPhees furnished part of their strength,
and suffered proportionately. The story is told of one of them, engaged in
the attempt to prevent the dragoons getting through the wall which
protected the right flank of the Highland army, that he cut down a horse
and its rider, but, failing to clear himself in time, received a kick from
the animal which broke his spine. He was carried from the field next day.
and lived long afterwards, but went through life to the last bent to the
ground and hobbling on a stick.
As late as the middle of
the nineteenth century the traditions of the clan were revived by a
deserter from the army, named Ewen MacPhee. This individual with his wife
and family took possession of an island in Loch Oich in the Great Glen,
and set up as an outlaw, paying no rent, prepared to defend himself with a
loaded rifle, and supporting himself by means of a herd of goats and such
game and fish as he managed to secure. Still more lawless was the career
of Edward Duffy, the Fenian leader in Connaught who was sentenced to
fifteen year’s penal servitude in 1867.
More creditable to the clan
was the career of Robert Andrew Macfie, M.P. for Leith Burghs, from 1868
to 1874, who was notable as an advocate of free trade, helped to found
Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, and published several works dealing with
patents, copyright, and political questions.
Septs of Clan MacPhee:
Duffie, Duffy, MacGuiffie, Machaffie.
Another account of the clan..
The island of Colonsay,
off western Argyllshire was the original home of the clan which it owned until the middle
of the 17th century. On the island of Iona there is a tombstone commemorating Malcolm
MacDuffie, who married the sister of John Maclan of Ardnamurchan, one of the most powerful
of the clan Donald 15th-century chieftains.
Unfortunately the MacFies became another broken and
dispossessed clan. Some followed the MacDonalds of Islay, while others settled in Cameron
lands under Lochiel. Ewan McPhee remained rebelious becoming as famous as the last of the
Scottish "outlaws" in the mid-19th century. He lived with his family on an
island in Loch Quoich, defending it with arms against all comers and recognizing no laws.
The MacFies of Langhouse, Renfrewshire, are the most
prominent branch of this clan, while the MacFies of Dreghorn are a cadet line.
Thanks to Mary Lou for this account
The name MacHaffie is found in southern
Scotland and is said to be derived from the old, old name, MacDhubshith,
McDuffie, Mac-a-Phi, with roots on Isle of Colonsay. Black's Surnames of
Scotland shows under MACCAFFIE, MACHAFFIE listing: `son of the servant of S.
Cathbad.'.... also preserved in the place name Craig Caffie, parish of Inch
[in Wigtownshire], which appears in a charter of the time of Robert I as
Kellechaffe or Kellechaffy...." Kellechaffe property was granted
to John Neilson, son of Neil of Carrick in the 14th c., and long held by
Neilsons. Craigcaffie Tower is in fine condition, and also on the
property is an ancient broch, described in H. M. Chadwick's book, Early
Scotland. Black mentions John McCaffe, messenger for King James V,
1540. Makcathy and McGuffie, McGuffog are found in Galloway earlier.
I was told as a child that our McHaffie
ancestor was banished from Scotland. In 1986, I learned more,
then in Dobson's Directory of Scots Banished to the American Plantations
1650-1775 found "John McHaffie in Gargerie. Covenanter. Banished
to the plantations 17 October 1684 (PC)." Dobson's The Original
Scots Colonists of Early America refers to PC10.612, volume and page from
the Register of the Privy Council. Gargrie, with ruins of stone house, etc.,
is on a strip of land between Castle Loch and Loch Mochrum, Wigtownshire.
John McHaffie in Gargerie/Gargrie was at Bothwell Bridge 1679, captured
1684, in Canongate, 1685, per PC pages. Thomas McHaffie, a Covenanter,
slain in 1685, was son of John in the Largs Farm, Straiton, and is buried in
the Straiton churchyard, Ayrshire, per Thomson's Martyr Graves of Scotland,
and has two tombstones, with year shown as 1686.
McHaffies have lived in southwestern Missouri
since 1830s when several offspring of Andrew McHaffie moved there from Knox
Co. Tennessee. McHaffies moved from Putnam and Hendricks Co. Indiana in
1870, first to Washington Co., Arkansas, and in early 1800s had lived in
Knox Co., Tennessee. Richard, son of Robert, died in 1897 near Vinita,
in what would become Oklahoma. Richard's grandfather was John McHaffie,
a Presbyterian, taxed in 1787 and married Jenney Campbell daughter of
Robert in 1789 in Botetourt Co., Virginia, and John died 1828 in Knox Co.,
TN. John and Jenney had offspring Robert, John, Andrew E. b. 1798,
James P., Rachel, Mary, Margaret, per pages of notes by Andrew E.'s daughter
Minnie, b. 1858. John's probable siblings were Andrew (will, 1845, and
1812 tax list, Knox Co. Tennessee) and Jane (m. John Ballenger, 1803).
John McHaffy/MacHafee and Martin McHaffy were in 1730s and 1741 in militias.
In 1753 Martin McHaffy, his three offspring, and "John McH." were
in the Lower Chanceford township Covenanter society, York Co., Pennsylvania,
and are named in Rev. Cuthbertson's 40 year register.
Archie Buchanan Low, d. 1949, Great Britain,
researched and wrote about his mother's people, of Wigtownshire:
"MacHaffie is the Galloway and Carrick... branch of the clan.... the
McDuffies and McDougalls of Argyll were seafaring folk, and during the 13th
and 14th centuries, they and their branches in Galloway.... mentioned in the
English Records as owners of galleys."
James McHaffie b. 1776, son of William Haffie
of Fuffock, Castle Douglas, Dumfriesshire, was a career Naval officer.
His sons moved to Australia, 1839, and one returned to live in Wigtownshire
at Torhousmuir property, 1889.
Book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, p. 363,
lists: M'Haffie, Scotland, a demi-griffon, gules (crest); and also,
M'Haffie, George William Gordon, Esquire, crest a demi-savage.
(George, an only son, owned Corsmalzie estate in Wigtownshire, and in 1882
changed his name to George William McHaffie-Gordon, Lyon Register XI, and
also in a London newspaper).