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Clan Cooper

The name has a double significance in Scotland, being both a maker of casks and native of Cupar, Fife, where it is recorded from the thirteenth century onwards. It is commonly spelt Coupar.



This name occurs in many guises in nearly every English-speaking county of Scotland and it is also common throughout England and elsewhere for it's origin is largely derived from the occupation of barrel maker. In Scotland it may equally be of local origin in that some originated in or near the town of Cupar in Fife, or from the ancient settlement around the Abbey of Coupar in Angus (Coupar Angus, Perthshire), for in both associations the name is common in early records. Its first appearance seems to be in a Charter dated 1245, and an early widespread distribution is evidenced by a John Cupar holding lands in Aberdeen in 1281, while a Symon Coupare in Berwickshire rendered homage to Edward I of England in 1296. Finla Couper in Belnakeill in Atholl was fined for sheltering outlawed MacGregors in 1613, such occurence being worthy of record in the Register of the Privy Council of Scotland. A family of Coupers held the lands of Gogar near Edinburgh in the 17th century, and of this House, John Couper was created a Baronet of Nova Scotia in 1638, two years before being killed in an explosion which destroyed Douglas Castle during the 'Bishops' Wars'. Sir John's 3rd son settled in Dumbartonshire and from his House came others who settled in the West of Scotland. Amongst others, these families comprised the Coupers of Banheath (Dumbartonshire); of Failford and Smeithston (Ayrshire), and of Ballindalloch (West Stirlingshire). Many changed their spelling to 'Cooper' during the 18th century. In a letter from the 'English' poet William Cowper (1731-1800) he reminded a correspondent that his roots lay in Fife where his line was still extant. Those of the name have never united under a 'chief', nor has any been family been defined as the principal race. Thus lacking a chief it follows that there can be neither Crest Badge, Motto, appropriate for kindred use. There is however a Couper tartan, originally woven by Messrs Peter Macarthur of Hamilton for a family descended from the Coupers of Gogar. It is quite distinctive in its colourings and appears to have been copied from an old shawl.






Is an occupational name, from the Middle English word "couper" meaning a maker of wooden casks, buckets or tubs. The wide spread adoption of this surname is testimony to the fact that Cooper was one of the valued specialist trades in the Middle Ages all through Europe.

Records show a Robert leCupere in the Pipe Rolls in Surrey in 1176, a Selide leCopere in the Pipe Rolls in Norfolk in 1181, and a William leCoupere in the Subsidy Rolls in Sussex in 1296.

Variants in English include Copper, Coupar, Cupper, Kooper, Coope, Coupe, and Cooperman.

Other European variants include Kiefer (German), Kupper (low German), Kupker (Frisian), De Cuyper, Cuyp (Flemish), Kuijper, Kuiper, Kuijpers, Kuypers, Cuijpers, Cuypers (Dutch) and Coupar, Cowper, Couper (Scottish).

The ancient family motto was


"By fidelity and fortitude"




The barrel-makers who were given the occupational surname of Cooper in the years before 1400 probably used the Middle English spelling of 'Couper'. There are many other variations of this popular name, including Coopper, Cooperman, Copper, Coupar, Cowper and Cupper. While the name is found in nearly all parts of the country, the highest concentrations are in Bedfordshire, the north Midlands, Suffolk, Hampshire and Sussex.

One of the earliest examples of the name is that of Robert le Cupere, who is mentioned in the Surrey Pipe Rolls for 1176 and 1177. Selide le Copere (or le Cupere) was named in the Norfolk Pipe Rolls only five years later, while William le Coupere appeared in the Subsidy Rolls for Sussex in 1296. Geoffrey Cowper is listed in the same source in 1377, and a John Copper is mentioned in a 1424 entry in the Register of the Freemen of the City of York. Other instances of the surname during the medieval period include Walter Cuppere (or Couper), who is recorded in the Calendar of Letter Books of the City of London for the years 1378 and 1391.

One of the earliest Coopers to have earned a place in the history books was Thomas Cooper. Bishop of Winchester. He was born in about 1517 at Oxford, the son of an impoverished tailor who owned a worltshop in Cat Street. Despite his humble origins, Cooper was educated as a chorister at Magdalen College School and, after graduating, became both a fellow and a master there. In 1545, he began an ambitious project to complete a history of the world, which had been left unfinished after the death of the chronicler Thomas Lacquet that same year. Lacquet had covered the period from the Creation to 17AD, and it took Cooper until 1549 to complete the remaining 1.530 years. When The Chronicle of the World was published in 1549 it was attributed to Cooper, who had written at least three-quarters of it and, when it reappeared in 1565, it was even entitled Cooper's Chronicle.

Cooper was an ardent Protestant, and he hoped to become a minister in the Church of England. However, the accession of the Catholic Queen Mary I. in 1553, forced him to set his ambition aside and. instead, he qualified and practised as a physician in Oxford. When Mary died in 1558, Cooper was ordained and quickly gained a reputation as a fiery preacher. However, he still exercised his literary talent and, around this time, he began to compile his greatest work, a Latin and English Dictionary, which was first published in 1565 and had been reprinted three times by 1584.

Unfortunately, Cooper's marriage to his wife, Amy, was desperately unhappy. According to the diarist John Aubrey, she once became so infuriated by the long hours her husband spent working on his dictionary that "when he had half-done it . . . she threw it into the fire and burnt it." Cooper, placid as ever, began work again, while his wife embarked upon a series of affairs. Despite being offered a divorce by the authorities of Oxford University, Cooper continued to forgive her.


Cooper's academic career was largely unaffected by his troubled home life and he rose steadily up the Church hierarchy. He became Dean of Gloucester in 1569, Bishop of Lincoln in 1570 and, finally, was translated to the bishopric of Winchester in 1584. He died ten years later and a Latin inscription engraved on his memorial plaque describes him as a man "most munificent, most learned, most vigilant and benign."

In the century following the bishop's death, two London-born Cooper brothers made their mark on history in quite a different way. Both men were nephews of the famous miniature painter John Hoskins, who tutored them in his art. In fact, the younger brother, Samuel Cooper (b. 1609), showed such brilliance that Hoskins was said to have been jealous of him. The elder brother, Alexander (Jl.1630-1.660), who also painted landscapes, gave his uncle less cause for jealousy but was nonetheless very successful. After producing a large number of miniatures depicting personalities at Charles I's court, Alexander moved to Amsterdam, and then to Sweden, where he became miniaturist to Queen Christina.

Meanwhile in 1640, Samuel Cooper set up a London studio at Henrietta 'Street, Covent Garden, and quickly developed a reputation as a fashionable miniaturist. His sitters included the wife of Samuel Pepys, who paid Cooper 30 for the portrait, and the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell. Fortunately, this connection didn't affect Cooper's prospects when the monarchy was restored in 1660 and, in 1663, King Charles II even gave him a pension of 200 a year.

Samuel Cooper was an affable and cultured man whom Pepys described as being "good company". Cooper was also considered by many to be the finest portrait miniaturist of his day and was later described by Horace Walpole as "an original genius, as he was the first who gave the strength and freedom of oil to miniature. Cooper died on 5th May 1672 and was buried in the old church at St Pancras.

Edward Joshua Cooper had the good luck to inherit a family talent, and was introduced to the study of astronomy by his grandfather, Harry Verelst, former Governor of Bengal. Cooper was born at Stephen's Green, Dublin in May 1798, and was the eldest son of wealthy landowner, Edward Synge Cooper. Synge had allowed his son to spend ten years travelling the globe and, in that time, Cooper visited many countries, including Turkey, Persia and Scandinavia, which became the home base for an expedition to the North Cape in Norway, Europe's most northerly point.

After his father's death in 1830, Cooper inherited Markree Castle in County Sligo, Ireland. It was here that he constructed an observatory equipped with the largest cast-iron telescope in Europe. This splendid instrument was set up in the open air and incorporated a comet-searcher, enabling Cooper to determine between 1842 and 1843 the positions of some fifty stars. In the following year, he set out on a tour of France, Germany and Italy with his assistant, Andrew Graham, and took the Markree refractor with him. Using this fine instrument, Cooper sketched the Orion Nebula and, on the February 1845, he detected a comet.


During his stay in Germany, Cooper was able to use his observations to extend the star maps, which were being compiled there. Not only did his maps include stars of the twelfth or thirteenth magnitude, but also his success in adding over 60,000 previously unknown stars to the records won him the Cunningham gold medal from the Royal Irish Academy in 1858.

Cooper had observed and drawn sketches of Halley's Comet in 1835 and Mauvais' Comet in 1844 and, in 1852, he published information about 198 similar bodies in his book Cometic Orbits, with Copious Notes and Addenda. He was invited to lecture on his discoveries at the Royal Astronomical Society in 1853, at the Royal Society in 1855 and the British Association in 1858. Unfortunately, Cooper did not live long enough to enjoy the benefits of his success and he died at Markree Castle on 28th April 1863. His castle observatory soon fell into disrepair but, in 1874, it was used once more for the study of double stars.


Another talented Cooper, Thomas, was born in London on 22nd October 1759. He began his career as a lawyer, but devoted much of his time to studying anatomy and medicine. After practising law for several years, he became involved with a number of political clubs, which flourished in both England and France during the late 15th century. Cooper was encouraged to go to France himself and, while there, he embraced the right-wing Girondist movement. However, he hastily returned to England when many of the organisation's members were guillotined during the Reign of Terror between 1793 and 1794.

Despite his hurried escape, Cooper's time in France was not wasted. He learned to make chlorine from common salt, and when he returned to England set up in business as a bleacher and calico printer in Manchester. When his company failed he emigrated to America and earned a living by practising law at Sunbury, Pennsylvania. However, he soon got into trouble by attacking the US President, John Adams, and was tried for libel. Cooper lost the action and received a $400 fine and a six-month prison sentence. After his release he returned to the law. However, it seemed as if he had learned nothing from his detention and, while serving as presiding judge of the Pennsylvania common pleas district, he so offended the state governor that he was dismissed from the position in 1811.

Having abandoned the legal profession, Cooper became a professor of chemistry and mineralogy in Pennsylvania, and ended his extraordinary career as president of South Carolina College at Columbia. When Cooper was a very old man, President Adams, who had a forgiving nature and a sense of humour, described him as "a learned, ingenious, scientific and talented madcap". Cooper died in South Carolina on 11th May 1840.


Cooper's namesake, Thomas Thornville Cooper, was a character formed in much the same mould. He was the eighth son of John J. Cooper, a coalfitter and shipowner, and was born at Bishopwearmouth, between Sunderland and the River Wear, on 13th September 1839. His health was fragile but, as a young man, he took a passage to Australia. However, on the way there, the crew of his ship mutinied, and Cooper and the captain armed themselves with pistols and took turns to guard the cabin door. When the ship finally reached Australia, Cooper explored the country's arid interior before leaving for India in 1859. While there, he worked for a brief time in the office of a British company in Madras, but soon left to tour the vast subcontinent before crossing the border into Burma. By 1863, be was off to join one of his many brothers in Shanghai, where he joined the city's defence force against the Taiping rebels.

After leaving Shanghai, Cooper set out for Tibet at the request of the Shanghai chamber of commerce, which wanted him to help expand its markets. Cooper's task was to find a route to India, by which one might travel through China via Tibet. Unfortunately, while he was still in China, he was stopped by a tribal chief who refused to let him pass through his terority. Cooper was later arrested and sentenced to death on suspicion of an allegiance with rebels from the Yunnan province, and suspicious officials later thwarted his attempt to find a route from eastern India to China.

For a man who was in poor health, Cooper had a remarkably active life. However, his frailty got the better of him in 1870 and he was forced to return to England for a period of convalescence. After recovering from his illness, he left England to serve as Emissary to the Viceroy of India. This was to be Cooper's last journey, as a sepoy whom he had punished murdered him.


Probably the most famous family of Coopers were the Ashley Coopers, the Earls of Shaftesbury. The first earl, Anthony Ashley Cooper, was born on 22nd July 1621 at Wimborne St Giles, Dorset. He not only succeeded his father as the 2nd Baronet Cooper, but was later awarded the titles of Baron Cooper of Pawlett, Baron Ashley of Wimborne St Giles and, in 1672, Earl of Shaftesbury.

Cooper inherited a vast fortune and, as a result, was rich enough to embark on a parliamentary career at the early age of only 18. He quickly became successful, although he was inclined to switch his political allegiances whenever it seemed advantageous for him to do so. For instance, in 1644, the third year of the English Civil War, he deserted Charles I and joined the parliamentarians in his native county of Dorset. However, despite being appointed to Oliver Cromwell's Council of State. Cooper rediscovered his monarchist loyalties in 1660, when he was one of 12 commissioners sent to Holland to offer Charles II the English crown.


Cooper was rewarded with the earldom of Shaftesbury, but was disgraced when, as Chancellor, he opposed the King's decision to allow a marriage between his brother, James, Duke of York and Mary of Modena. Charles was determined that James would succeed him, and finding Shaftesbury too equivocal to trust, dismissed him from his post as Chancellor in 1673.

Shaftesbury continued to oppose James' succession to the throne, and the Earl's behaviour led to an abuse of his parliamentary privileges. The Earl was arrested on 2nd July 1673 and imprisoned in the Tower of London on a charge of treason. The accusations against him were dismissed by a grand jury and Shaftesbury subsequently fled to Holland, where he died on 21st January 1683

Shaftesbury's grandson, also named Anthony Ashley Cooper, was quite a different character. Born in London on 26th February 1671, he became his grandfather's ward, possibly because his father was only 19 years old. Shaftesbury assigned the English philosopher John Locke to the boy's education, and he soon became well versed in Latin, Greek and Classical literature. Before long, the future third Earl had written several philosophical treatises and become one of the foremost English Deists, believing that the human sense of morals, and the capacity to distinguish right from wrong, was not a God-given quality but an innate virtue. In fact, it was almost entirely through works such as Characteristicis of mien, Manner, Opinions Times, which was published in 1711, that English Deism became known in Germany.


The third Earl was a Whig sympathiser, although he frequently failed to follow the Party line. He took his seat in Parliament in 1695, went to the Lords on inheriting his title in 1699, and retired in 1702, after losing his only official position of Vice-Admiral of Dorset. The third Earl died in Naples on 14th February 1713, while on a European tour which he had hoped would improve his health.

The great-grandson of the third Earl, Anthony Ashley Cooper, became the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury in 1851. Born in London on 28th April 1801, he later became known as a man of great intellect and good conscience. He was concerned with some of the worst social evils of the day and used Parliament to promote an Act banning women and girls, as well as all boys under the age of ten, from labouring in the mines, and one which limited to ten hours the working day in textile mills. The Earl belonged to the Evangelical movement within the Church of England, and exploited his position to stop the abuses suffered by 'climbing boys', or apprentice chimney sweeps. He was also responsible for the passing of the Lunacy Act of 1845, which allowed mental patients to be treated, not as pariahs and social outcasts, but as "persons of unsound mind." He went on to pioneer the creation of low-cost housing for urban workers, free education in the 'Ragged Schools' for destitute children, and set up the Young Men's' Christian Association and Workingmen's institutes.


The Earl also made personal visits to the city slums to see the appalling conditions there for himself. The 7th Earl died in Folkestone, Kent on 1st October 1885 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Anthony. While the 8th Earl sadly committed suicide in 1886, the Shaftesbury dynasty continues to this day.


John Cooper (died 1626) was a musician who changed his name to Giovanni Coperario (or Coprario), after studying in Italy. He kept the Italianised version of his name while working at the court of James I, for whom he wrote masques between 1607 and 1613, as well as Songs of Mourning, to commemorate the death of James' heir, Prince Henry, in 1613. Charles I, who succeeded his father James in 1625, appointed Coperario as royal composer when he became king.

Abraham Cooper (1787-1868) was a painter of horses and battles. He was born at Red Lion Street, Holborn, and London on 8th September 1787, and was the son of a tobacconist and innkeeper. He drew many of the celebrated racehorses of his day and was also awarded 150 guineas by the British Institution in 1810 for a picture of the battle of Waterloo. He was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1820 for his painting of Marston Moor, the battle that took place in 1644 during the English Civil war. Cooper died in Greenwich on 24th December 1868.

Peter Cooper (1791-1884), who invented the Tom Thumb locomotive in 1830, was an industrialist and philanthropist. He was born on 12th February 1791 in New York and later working in coachbuilding and manufactured textile machinery, glue, isinglass and ironworks before designing an engine to run over hilly, twisting terrain for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company. Cooper went on to produce structural iron beams for the building industry, a washing machine and a compressed-air engine for use on ferryboats. His personal motto was: "I have endeavoured to remember that the object of life is to do good." Cooper died on 4th April 1884 in New York.

Dame Gladys Cooper, the actress and film star was born on 18th December 1888 in London. She acted in plays by such dramatists as Oscar Wilde. Arthur Wing Pinero and Noel Coward. Her early fame came from her performance In Pinero's The Second Mrs. Tanqueray. She was nominated for Academy awards in 1942, 1943 and 1964. Cooper died at Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire on 17th November 1971.

Sir Astley Paston Cooper (1768-1841) was a surgeon born at Brooke, Norfolk, on 23rd August 1768. He was one of the first people to treat aneurisin by tying the abdominal aorta. He performed many successful operations in the days before anaesthesia 'md antiseptics, and became the Professor of Comparative Anatomy at the Royal College of Surgeons in 1813. Cooper ended his carrer as surgeon to King George IV, who awarded him a baronetcy in 1821, and he died in London on 12th February 1841.

Surnames associated with Clan MacDuff

Almost any name on this list can be found in the area of a Clan Chief other than The Macduff. However, most of them are primarily found in Macduff territory and rightfully belong to Macduff alone. Some Clans do not have a society. Some names have a society but no Clan or Chief. When an applicant has a choice between Macduff and another, they may choose Macduff because of the inactivity of the "other" in their area.

To these we say "welcome!".

Let tradition and conscience be your guide.

Note  Reference
====  ======================================================
A.    Tartan For Me!, 3rd edition, Fife names
B.    Family Names in Scotland, Fifeshire names.
C.    Clan MacDuff Society of America's original list.
D.    The Rt. Hon. the Lord Home of the Hirsel has granted
      permission to enroll his Clan.
E.    The Highland Clans, credits these possibilities.
F.    Copyright list of W & A. K. Johnston Ltd. Edinburgh.
G.    Varied and individual sources of authority.
*     Noted as names found in areas besides MacDuff.
**    There are two distinct families of Dunbar.
(?)   Name of a clan with a Chief.

CCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCC A. Calley A. Calvie-y A. Cambo C/E Cameron (?) C. Cant A. Carment A. Carnbee-ie A. Carneil B. Carstairs * A. Ceras-es C. Christie-y B. Clark * B. Celphane * B. Clerk * A. Cock C. Collier C. Colyear A. Cooper A. Corbie-y

The Legendary History of

Clan MacDuff


The Duffs are descended from those original Gaels who inhabited the Highlands of Scotland long before the Roman Invasion, and before the Christian era. Their ancient Gaelic name, Dhuibh, is pronounced Duff, and signifies a dark complected man with dark hair. The first Scottish Highlanders were members of the ancient German Tribes who crossed over the German Ocean and settled first on the east and north coast of the barren Island of Caledonia, later moving inland. They were of the Chauci, Cimbri, Suevi, Catti, and others, all fair complected with either red or brown hair, and of a giant stature and enormous endurance. The people of Britain and the lowlands of Scotland were originally from France and southern Europe, but the Highlanders from the beginning, kept themselves apart, and did not mingle with the lowlanders, whom they hated.

The Duffs were of German Catti ancestry, having settled on the shores of Caithness in very early times. At first they were of the ancient Kournaovioi Tribe who occupied the north peninsula of Caithness, later moving down into Moray below the Moray Firth, where they were Mormaers of the Kanteai Tribe for many ages. At one time Moray included all the north central Highlands, and the more reliable historians agree that the famous Thane of Fife came from Moray, previous to the great historical event which brought him to the attention of posterity. With the other Caledonian Tribes the Duffs fought the Roman Invaders and thus prevented the foreigners from gaining a foothold in Scotland.

According to an old genealogical manuscript, the Duffs were Mormaers of Moray during the era of the Pictish Kings, and were also prominent in Fife and Fothriff. Strath Avon was one of their old neighborhoods, near the Cairngorm Mountains.

The first Official Record of the Thanes of Fife was in the year 838 A.D. At that time Kenneth MacAlpine, who bore the blood of both Pictish and Scots-Irish Kings in his veins, had united two warring nations under one rule in the name of Scotland. When he appointed his Governors for the several Provinces, Fifus Duffus, or Duff of Fifeshire was appointed Governor of Fifeshire.

In 1039 Queen Gruoch's (travestied by Shakespeare as Lady Macbeth) second husband King Macbeth, Mormaer of Moray - who also belonged to the House of Duff slew King Duncan and seized upon the Throne, and when Duff, the Thane of Fife, vowed that he would " not be ridden with a snaffle" and failed to aid in building MacBeth's Castle, the pretender swore vengeance and drove Duff, the Thane of Fife, into exile. Duff hurried to England to join forces with Malcolm, young son of King Duncan, and now that he had reached maturity, prevailed upon him to return to Scotland and take for himself the Throne of his fathers.

In 1057 after the death of her second husband, King Macbeth. the son of Queen Gruoch (who was the senior representative of the House of Duff), by her first husband, succeeded as King Lulach.

But upon returning, with an Army, Duff, the Thane, found that MacBeth had murdered Lady MacDuff and several of her children. and attacking MacBeth's Castle of Dunsinane, they drove him north into the Hills above the Dee River, where Duff slew the Pretender on a slope above Lumfannaaine, and carried his head to Prince Malcolm.

When King Malcolm of Canmore was firmly established on the Throne, he called a Parliament at Forfair in 1057, and rewarded those who had aided him in attaining the crown, King Malcolm honored with three sorts of Privileges -

That the Earl of Fife, by Office, shall bear the heraldic red lion rampant of the Royal House, and shall set the Crown upon the King's head on the stone of Scone at his Coronation.
That when the King should give Battle to his enemies, that the same Earl should lead the Vanguard of his host.
That the lineage of Duff should enjoy Regal authority and Power within all their lands, as to appoint officers and judges for the hearing and determination of all manner of Controversies - "Treason onlie excepted" - and if any men or tenants were called to answer in any court other than their own circuit, they might appeal to their own judges.
In case of slaughter of a mean person, twelve marks fine - and if a Duff should kill by chance and not by pretensed malice, twenty four marks fine, and released from punishment by Duffs Privilege.

King Malcolm also commanded Duff to build a great Sanctuary in his own district of Fife, where his people could seek safety in time of need. It was called the Gurth Cross, and it stood high in the Ochill Range, near the border between Fifeshire and Strathearne.

At that time the King raised the Thanes of his Kingdom to Earldoms, and Duff was made Senior Earl of Scotland.

He was also Commander in Chief of the Royal Army, and when word was received that Lulach. Queen Gruoch's (Lady MacBeth) son, had tried to seize the crown at Scone, Duff was given full Commission in the King's name, and marching against Lulach, he encountered the rebel at the village of Essen in Bogdale, and slew him.

At the time the Norse men had gained a foothold in Moray, and in 1087 there was another outbreak in the turbulent north. Under the leadership of Maelsnectan, son of Lulach, the insurgents of Moray, Ross and Caithness rose and slew the King's representatives and laid wait to the country.

Shaw MacDuff, second son of the Earl of Fife, was sent to investigate the trouble, and finding the rebels well equipped and strongly entrenched in a great camp at Elgin beyond the Spey River, the officer stationed himself at Braemar, where he subdued the inhabitants and awaited the arrival of the Kings army.

The Earl of Fife and his eldest son, Alexander MacDuff, accompanied King Malcolm to Monimuske, situated on Kings lands in Aberdeenshire, where they were joined by the younger MacDuff, and there were great preparations for a decisive encounter with the enemy.

The old inhabitants, descendents of the ancient picts, hated the Norse and newcomers, and these people rose and joined the King's forces.

Malcolm vowed to give Monimuske to the Church of Saint Andrew if he were victorious and a few days later they moved west toward the enemy camp. Led by Malcolm Canmore and the three MacDuffs, the royal forces came to the Spey river where they encountered Maelsnectan and his rebels. There were several skirmishes, but at last the Moray men saw that they could not stand against the King's army, and through the good offices of certain church men the matter was arranged and the rebellion quelled.

Shaw MacDuff, younger son of the Earl of Fife, was made governor of Moray, and had his headquarters at Inverness, where Malcolm built a great new fortress.

The ancient Castle of the Thanes of Fife stood half a mile west of Culross Abbey, and not far from Saint Andrews. It was the fortress of Dunamarle, and was the place where MacBeth had slain Lady MacDuff and her helpless children.

The Earl of Fife built another stronghold, MacDuff Castle, on a sea-cliff above the waters of the Forth. It overlooked the coast line and the mountain vistas landward. Alexander, the oldest son of the great Mormaer, inherited the title and estates, and continued to be prominent on the affairs of Scotland until the time of Alexander the First.

Gillemichael, fourth Earl of Fife, witnessed the Charter of Holyrood granted by David the First, and Duncan the Sixth Earl. was one of the nobles who treated for the ransom of King William in 1174.

Duncan MacDuff, tenth Earl supported the succession of the Maid of Norway, and the Twelfth Earl signed the letter to the Pope in 1220. He also supported Alexander, the third, at the Battle of Largs when Haco and the Norsemen were defeated.

In the latter part of the thirteenth century Duncan, Earl of Fife, married the niece of Edward the First, King of England. He was Governor of Perth, and perhaps it was natural that he took the side of his wife's people. At any rate, he was on the opposite side against Robert The Bruce, and Isabell, MacDuff's sister, was married to the Earl of Buchan, a Comyn - and mortal enemy to Bruce.

However, the Countess of Buchan was a lady of spirit, and a true Scotswoman, and she officiated at Robert Bruce's Coronation, placing the Crown upon his head in accordance with hereditary right of her people. It was said that circumstance was responsible for the situation with the Earl of Fife, Isabell's brother, but when her husband, Earl of Buchan, learned that she had crowned Bruce, he wanted to kill her.

Bruce had slain Buchan's kinsmen, the Red Comyn and his Uncle, and when Isabell was later captured and displayed publicly in a cage by Edward the First, it was said that her vicious husband enjoyed her public humiliation, and tried to prevail upon Edward to kill her.

After Bruce won the War for Independence and the Scottish ladies were released, Buchan had been forced to flee England, however, and Isabell returned to her own domicile in safety.

But Robert Bruce did not take kindly to the treatment accorded the ladies, and later when the Earl of Fife and his lady fell into his hands, King Robert imprisoned them in Kildrummy Castle, Aberdeenshire, where they remained until the Earl's death in 1336.

Duncan, the next Earl, marched with the Scots against the English and was taken prisoner at Dupplin, however, and his son and successor was slain fighting gallantly against the English at Durham in 1346.

His daughter, also named Isabell, was his heiress, but dying without issue, the title went to Robert, third son of Robert the Third.

The Clan had several Cadet Chieftains, but in 1401 Robert the Third granted lands and the Barony of Muldavit to David Duff, Grandson of the last Earl of Fife, by a younger child. The title remained in the family until the time of Charles the First.

The power of the Duffs in Fifeshire had declined somewhat, but other branches had risen powerfully in the North, in Aberdeen, where many of them were prosperous merchants, and in the neighborhood of Banff and Inverness.

A later Chief, William MacDuff, of Banff, was raised to the peerage of Ireland, as Baron Braco of Kilbride, and being descended from the ancient Thanes of Fife was also created Earl of Fife, and Viscount MacDuff, in 1759. James MacDuff, a later Chief was raised to the peerage of England in 1859, and his line continue to reside at his mansion, Duffhouse, near Banff. Alexander, sixth Earl, married Princess Louise of Wales, and created Duke of Fife in 1890.

The Clan Duff always marched with their kinsmen, the Mackintoshes of Clan Chattan, and the Shaws of Clan Quhele in time of war, and it was established that they were not only valiant on the Field of battle, but mostly continued to be conscious of and to uphold those fine ideals and traditions that had so long sustained their brilliant ancestors back in the earlier days of Scotland's history.

Other branches of the Clan were the MacKintoshes of Nairn and Iverness, also the Duffs of Monyvaird, and the Earls of Finday, Craigton, and so on.

The male line of Earls failed in 1353, and passed through an heiress until it reached the royal house of Stewart who was regent during the captivity of James I in England. In 1425 the Earldom passed to the Crown.

The direct line of the ancient House of Clan Duff has been continued in the family of Wemyss.

The Wemyss family of Fifeshire, and Aberdeenshire, who took their name from Eoin mor nah Uamh, or Great John of the Caves, a Duff who lived during part of the twelfth Century. Wemyss being a corruption of the Gaelic Uamh, meaning a cave. Below the ruins known as MacDuff s Castle, on the coast of Fife, are caves containing Pictish drawings; and these in all probability gave rise to the local place-name Wemyss. It became the surname of a cadet branch of the Royal House of Duff, descendants of Gillemichael, who was the Earl of Fife early in the 12th century. When senior male lines failed, that of Wemyss became the Chief of Scotland's senior clan, although it never reverted to the patronymic of MacDuff.

Sir Michael of Wemyss ensured the family's future prosperity by supporting the cause of Robert the Bruce. Thereafter the name multiplied in many branches. Its senior line rose to the peerage in the reign of Charles I, and again survived the hazards of the century of revolution and counter-revolution to emerge in the 18th century as the senior representatives of the ancient Earldom of Fife. But they never held the Earldom of Wemyss, and after the forty-five even the surname of the Chiefs of Clan MacDuff was changed again.

The Earl's eldest son Lord Elcho supported Prince Charles Edward, and after his attainder his Younger brother was invested with his titles. But this Earl adopted the name of Charteris when he fell heir to the fortune of his maternal grandfather.

While Charteris remains the name of Wemyss to this day, despite their descent in the male line from the House of Duff, The chiefship of Clan Duff passed to the descendants of a younger son of the fifth Earl of Fife who have not changed their name. It is they who live in the Castle of Wemyss, which was built early in the Fifteenth century to replace the older stronghold, and enjoy with the Chiefship, the Title of Wemyss of Wemyss.

The Priest of Wedale was once Tosach of the ancient Clan, and was connected with Saint Andrews, as were all the tribe of the good Duff, Thane of Fife.

Other residences of the later Earls of Fife were the Castles of Rothiemay, Balvenie, Dalgettie, and Mar Lodge in Aberdeenshire, highest inhabited section of the highlands.

The Piobaireachd of the Clan are Salutes, Gatherings and Marches commemorating historic occasions in the past, and Cu'a' Mhic Dhu, or Duff's Lament, is a mournfully beautiful piece of Pipe Music.

The Badge or Suaicheantas is the Bucsa or Boxwood, and the War Cry was primitive and peculiar to the locality.

Legend has it that when an old Highland Chief was writing the history of his Clan, he stopped when he reached the eleventh Chief and wrote in the margin 'about this time Adam was born'.

The Duffs make no such claims, but they are descended from the Celtic Earls of Fife, which is a long enough lineage for most people.

Although events did not occur quite as the Bard describes them, Shakespeare's MacDuff was an historic personage.

MacDuff Tartan


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