Miscellaneous Mahaffey/Mehaffey Information

From:  Clan Macfie web site which is no longer online:
     See also MacFie Clan Society of America

Official spelling variants of Macfie:  Athey,  Athie,  Cathey,  Cathie,  Coffee,  Coffey,  Duffee,  Duffey,  Duffie,  Duffy,  Fee,  Guffey,  Guffie,  Haffey,  Haffie,  MacAfee,  MacAfie,  MacCaffer,  MacCaffrey,  MacCaffie,  MacCathey,  MacCathie,  MacCuish,  MacDuffee,  MacDuffie,  MacDuffey,  MacDuffy,  MacDuffin,  MacFee,  MacFie,  MacGuffey,  MacGuffie,  MacGuffin,  MacHaffie,  MacHaffy,  MacPhee,  MacPhie,  MacVee,  MacVie,  Magoffin,  Mahaffey,  Mahaffie,  Mahaffy,  McAfee,  McAfie,  McCafferty,  McCaffrey,  McDuffee,  McCathey,  McCathie,  McDuffee,  McDuffie,  McFee,  McFie,  McGuffie,  McHaffie,  McPhee,  McPhie,  Mehaffey,  Phee,  Phie.

From:  Clan Macfie web site:

"The Gaelic name MacPhie gives the English phonetic spelling Macafie, sometimes shortened to Macfie or MacPhee. However, in its original form, the name was probably Mac Dhuibh Shith or 'Son of the Dark Fairy. . . ."

"The origin of the MacDuffie name is interesting and has given rise to much speculation. In Gaelic dub-shide or dudh-sithe means 'the black peace,' so MacDuffie can be translated as 'son of the black peace.' It has been suggested that this may refer to the dark robes worn by monks, but as the Gaelic word sithe (pronounced 'shee') can also mean 'magical' or 'supernatural,' the MacDuffie name could equally well have to do with 'black magic.' The word has even found its way into English in 'banshee,' from the Gaelic bean-sithe, the female fairy whose wailing and shrieking foretold the approaching death of a member of a family. It is by no means beyond the bounds of possibility that the hereditary MacDuffie priors of Oronsay had their ancestral roots in the remote pre-Christian past, as hereditary priests in the Iron Age or earlier. But of course, this must remain a matter of speculation.

    — Norman Newton, Colonsay and Oronsay, 1990"

"CLAN MACFIE is one of the oldest Scottish Clans with a history going back before records were kept. Traditionally, the Clan homeland was the Islands of Colonsay and Oronsay off the west coast of Scotland. The ancient Clan name was Macdhubhsith, meaning 'dark men of peace,' which anglicised to MacDuffie or Macfie. This latter spelling being that recognised to-day by the Lyon Court in Edinburgh as the Clan name. The names MacDuffie and Macfie appear interchangeable in old records. In the middle ages the Clan provided MacDuffie Priors for the Priory on Oronsay, and the Macfie Chief was Keeper of The Records for the MacDonald Lords of the Isles. The Clan's fortunes went into decline when that Lordship fell in 1493. Malcolm, last Chief of Clan Macfie, was murdered on Colonsay in 1623, and the Clan dispos­sessed of its lands and dispersed as a 'broken' Clan. Following the initia­tives of the late Dr. Earle Douglas MacPhee of Vancouver, Canada, in the 1970's the Clan was reactivated and again formally recog­nised as an 'active' Clan on 27th May 1981. To-day the Clan has eight Clan Societies established and Clan members are to be found around the world."

From another related website:

Origins of the Clan
by David Morgan (30 October 1996)

Although it has been accepted that the progenitor of Clan MacDuffie (or the modern Macfie) was DUB-SIDHE (Dark man of the fairy mound in Gaelic), Lector of Iona in 1164, as indicated in "The Annals of Ulster," modern research is revealing a much more ancient origin.

A problem arose on the murder of the last Clan Chief Malcolm in 1623, when the Clan became a "broken Clan" because of the lack of a successor until 6 November 1981, when Clan Macfie (now so named as the only Arms had been granted to a Macfie) saw Professor Earl Douglas MacPhee invested as Clan Com­mander, the position now held by Alexander (Sandy) C. McPhie of Australia. Despite Professor MacPhee's gallant efforts, much research time had been lost but this has gathered momentum and a much clearer picture is emerging, although no Chief has yet been appointed.

The islands of Colonsay and Oronsay have been considered the traditional home of the Clan and yet the earliest evidence of occupation is not until 1208 when the Catholic Donald, grandson of King Somerled and progenitor of Clan Donald, took a party of MacNagills and MacDuffies for protection, to pay homage to the King of Norway and the controlling Vikings. On his return, the MacDuffies were installed in "Dun Eidhinn" or Dun Evan (Dun=fort), while Donald moved to Islay to set up the great MacDonald Parliament or "Thing." But obviously the MacDuffies must have lived somewhere else between 1164 and 1208, and equally obviously lived in another part of Scotland before 1164.

Linking research with other Clans it seems appar­ent that the MacDuffies are descended from Colla Uais, King of Ulster and Ireland through the Ui Macc Uais and Airgialla, subordinate to Cenel Loairn of Dal Riada, who dominated the district stretching from Knapdale north through Dunadd, Dunollie, Loch Linnhe, Mull, Morvern and Ardnamurchan which included the isles of Colonsay, Iona, Tire and Coll, an area increasingly suggested as being the home of Clan MacDuffie.

The Annals of Clonmacnoise detail the Battle of Kyndealgen (Allone) in which Duff Dakrich M'Duffe was slain in 717 AD, but most of the Duffies were ecclesiastic as a detailed analysis of Clan Duffy will confirm and include many Irish Bishops from Armagh and St. Duthac from Tain in Scotland, Chief Confessor of Ireland and Scotland.

But a key link must be Cormac, Bishop of Dunkeld in the 12th century when Iona was in decline. Son of Airbertach, who could trace his line back to the Fercha Fada, first King of Dal Riada in Scotland, Cormac begat six sons whom he placed on Church lands, including Fearchar Ruadh, now believed to be the progenitor of Clan MacDuffie, Clan McNab, Clan Ross, Clan Matheson, and Clan MacKenzie.

Clan MacDuffie became staunch supporters of Clan MacDonald in the Western Isles and it is ironic that their last chief was murdered by a renegade MacDonald, Coll Kitto, who became Laird of Colonsay. The MacDonalds, known in Northern Ireland as McDonnells, where they owned considerable tracts of land, were finally overwhelmed in 1493 when the Siol Alpin Confederation disintegrated and the Campbells eventually became the dominant Clan in the Western Isles."

Another couple of brief histories on the Clan McFie:

MacFie Clan Homepage


Early history of the Clan is unknown. It has been said that MacFie is "one of the oldest and most interesting personal names we possess." The MacFie's are said to be descended from a "Selkie" or seal woman, who cast off her fins to become a beautiful woman and she married the first MacFie who hid her fin, so that she could no longer return to the sea. The MacFie's are Celts, and are a branch of the great Siol Alpine. In Gaelic the clan name is Dubhsithe—the dark featured tribe. Based on the carvings found on MacFie tombstones the Clan was made up of warriors and churchmen, the Clan was also Royalist. In 1549 the Isle of Colonsay, one of the Inner Hebrides, in Argyll, was recorded to be under the sway of "ane gentle Capitane called MacDuffyhe." His decendants would hold the Isle until the middle of the 17th century. In 1645 Coll MacDonald and his followers were charged with the murder of Malcom MacPhee of Colonsay, he would be the last chief of the MacFie's for many years. The MacPhees were dispossessed and merged into other more powerful clans, where they became conspicious for their courage. Many others settled on the shores of Ireland where they were called Macheffie or Macafee. Much later in history we find the reason behind the reputation MacFie's have for stealing sheep and other such lawlessness. In the mid-19th century, Ewan MacPhee(Eilean MhicPhee), of Loch Quoich, became 'famous' as the last of the Scottish outlaws. He recognised no law, and no land­owner, and defended his homestead with firearms. It is Ewan MacPhee who was arrested for indulging in sheep stealing. On May 27th, 1981 the Clan MacFie was recognized and reactivated by the Lord Lyon and many of the Clan MacFie celebrate the anniversary of this day.


The Siol Alpin

In the Highlands of Scotland are SEVEN CLANS that claim descent from the royal line of King Alpin I who was the 28th and last king of the Dalriadic Scots. This Alpinian family, better known as the SIOL ALPIN, is one of the least discussed and more mysterious of the clan alliances in Highland history. The seven families or clans that make up this confederation are the MACNABS, the MACGREGORS, the MACKINNONS, the MACQUARRIES, the GRANTS, the MACAULAYS and the MACFIES.

There has never been a Clan MacAlpin living on its own clan lands, and with its own hereditary chiefs and chieftains. The present-day MacAlpin (with or without the e) almost certainly belongs to one of the above-mentioned clans of the Siol Alpin.

According to Charles MacKinnon:

When the earnest Lowlanders, bent on giving surnames to Highlanders who had no surnames and spoke little English, realized the difficulty of their task, they must soon have discovered that the way to find out the 'name' of a Highlander was to question him about his chief. The clansmen had listened to the bardic recitals of clan genealogy from their earliest childhood, back to the FIRST man to settle on the land (and beyond.) Thus a MacKinnon might say that his chief was the son of Fingon (or Findanus) or he might easily say that he was the son of Alpin ('son' meaning 'House of') — for the early MacKinnon chiefs were all known as So-and-so of the House of Findanus (who gave the clan his name) who was of the House of Alpin (who gave the clan their lands). — Scottish Highlanders, p. 244.

Early Highland histories tended to dismiss the Siol Alpin as a fanciful, if not fictitious, piece of Highland boastfulness and nonsense. The reason for this is quite obvious — they searched the clan histories for the Siol Alpin and found absolutely nothing. They tried to compare it to another great confederation — the Clan Chattan — and could find no similarity. Based on this, they dismissed the Siol Alpin altogether. The evidence for the common descent of these SEVEN CLANS from the House of Alpin is traditional — as is the greater part of Highland history. However, bardic traditions (as we have seen) are far more ACCURATE than the garbled history of the early chronicles written by the Catholic monks. Any historian who summarily dismisses the traditions of a people is simply a FOOL. There is NO DOUBT that these clans shared the same COMMON ORIGIN; and the fact that it was ROYAL is nothing out of the ordinary! Most of the west Highland Celtic clans were CLOSELY CONNECTED WITH BOTH IRISH AND DALRIADIC (ARGYLL) ROYALTY.

The royal House of Alpin, which lasted down to the reign of Malcolm II (1005-34), gave widely separated grants of land to the younger sons of the family, thus keeping them well separated. This old and effective policy of divide and rule prevented the younger sons and their descendants from combining to put one of their number in place of the current ruler. Only a fool allowed younger sons and cousins to congregate together. Because of this policy the seven clans were widely scattered: Three are Hebridean and lived on islands, three are west Highland, and the Grants settled in the other side of Scotland — to the northeast.

According to this arrangement the original MacKinnon lands were in Mull; and from here they spread to Arran and Skye. The Grant lands were in Strathspey and Glenmoriston, while the MacNab lands were in Perthshire on the western shore of Loch Tay. The MacAulays had their seat at Ardincaple in Dumbartonshire; the MacFies in Colonsay, and the MacQuarries had lands in Mull near the MacKinnons. The MacQuarries also owned the island of Ulva, to the west of Mull. The proud MacGregors had a number of possessions, their early principal seat being Glenarchy. They also had estates at Glenstrae, Glenlyon, Glengyle, Glenlochy and Balquhidder — most of which was taken by the Campbells.

The clans of the Siol Alpin share a common plant badge—the pine. The MacFies and the MacKinnons have the same Alpin war cry of "Cuimhnich bas Alpein," meaning "Remember the death of King Alpin." The MacGregors were more boastful, adopting as their motto "S Rioghal mo dhream" — which means "ROYAL IS MY RACE." However, they are not alone in royal ties, nor are the rest of the Siol Alpin clans.

The Clan MacFie (MacPhee, MacDuffie)

With this clan the story of the Siol Alpin closes with a sad note. The clan lands of the MacFies consisted of the island of Colonsay, and they were hereditary Keepers of the Records to the Lords of the Isles. Like most of the Hebridean clans, the MacFies followed the Lords of the Isles.

The chiefs, following a normal Highland custom, styled themselves Captain of MacFie, as well as MacFie of Colonsay.

They are believed to descend from the MacKinnons, and one of their clan was Lector of Iona in 1164, during the time of the hereditary abbacy of the "sacred" clan MacKinnon. This strongly suggests that there was a family relationship since the MacKinnon abbots were not likely to bestow such offices outside their own number.

Following the fall of the Lords of the Isles, the MacFies of Colonsay continued to follow the MacDonalds of Islay. In the year 1463 DONALD MACDUFFIE (another name for the same clan) witnessed a charter at Dingwall, and in 1531 MURDOCH MACFIE of Colonsay was accused of treason because of his continued support of the MacDonald pretender to the forfeited Lordship.

The clan's continued alliance with the MacDonalds even­tually caused their downfall. They supported Sir James MacDonald of Islay after his escape from Edinburgh Castle in 1615, and the Campbells had been promised the island of Islay as a reward for getting rid of Sir James and his troublesome followers. Somehow the Campbells forced Coll Mac Gillespick MacDonald, who later won fame with Montrose under his nickname "Colkitto," to take their side, and it was this Colkitto, a MacDonald chief, who captured Malcolm MacFie of Colonsay and his followers and handed them over to the Campbells. In 1623 Colkitto finally slew the MacFie chief and annexed Colonsay for himself!

The clan MacFie became a broken clan (a clan without land and therefore without shelter) and without a chief. The clansmen dispersed and the name is now to be found all over the Highlands.

Again, a clan of the Siol Alpin produced a man instru­mental in the growth of modern-day Israel! GEORGE MCDUFFIE, an American statesman of South Carolina, was born in 1788, the son of John and Jane McDuffie—unspoiled Scots of great energy and intelligence who had migrated to Georgia after the Revolution.

In 1804 he was employed as a clerk by Calhoun and Wilson of Augusta; and in 1810 William Calhoun, brother of James and John C. Calhoun, took him under his wing and sent him to Willington Academy. George McDuffie more than fulfilled the expectations of his patron, graduating from South Carolina college in 1813. He was called to the bar in 1814, and in 1818 secured election to the State Legislature, and to Congress in 1821.

McDuffie won distinction in the national House of Representatives, serving continuously on important committees until 1834. While he was strongly influenced by the Calhouns, McDuffie forged a vigorous, intellectual independence that made him stand out in the political sphere.

In 1834 he denounced the Jackson administration, retired from Congress, and served as governor of South Carolina from 1834 to 1836. He was a highly effective governor, giving particular attention to the compilation of the statue laws of the State and to the reorganization of South Carolina college.

George McDuffie was elected to the U.S. Senate in December 1842, where he helped to bring about the ANNEXATION OF TEXAS, the "AMICABLE ADJUSTMENT" OF THE OREGON QUESTION WITH GREAT BRITAIN and the passage of the low Walker tariff of 1846—displacing the high Whig tariff of 1842 almost in conjunction with the repeal of the British corn laws. During this period of intimate relations between the free traders of the U.S. and Great Britain, McDuffie's bust, along with that of Calhoun's, was sent to the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, England.

McDuffie's public life ended with this note because of an old spine wound he received during a duel in 1822. He was compelled to resign his seat in the Senate on August 17, 1846 and died five years later at Cherry Hill, South Carolina.

The last official outlaw in Scotland is said to have been a MacFie—a sad ending for an ancient clan belonging to the family of the first kings of Scotland, and descended from the early kings of Dalriada and their ancestors the Milesian Scots of Ireland.


Since the book, Mahaffey Descendants stated in a several places that members of those families had settled in Kansas, I did a search for the surnames Mahaffey, Mahaffy, Mahaffie, Mehaffey, Mehaffy on a CD of the book:  History of the State of Kansas, ed. by Wm. G. Cutler, published by A. T. Andreas 1883 [emphasis added], which is also available on the world wide web at Kansas Book Collection. I also searched for a few of the other alternative spellings from the Clan MacFie website, and another page has the entries for these surnames; however, there were no records for the Mahaffeys, who are recorded in the Mahaffey Descendants as having once lived in Wyandotte Co., Kansas, but it is possible that they lived in Kansas after the date the history was published in 1883, or were missed in the canvass made by the book's publisher.

This information is arranged in alphabetical order by county name, and includes various spellings from the above list from the Clan Macfie website. You may wish to use the search feature on your web browser to locate information more quickly. Since I have the history on a CD, I was able to do a search off of it rather than the website, but I did not do a search for every one of the names above, only the ones listed in the paragraphs which follow. For instance, since Coffey is the name of a county in Kansas, I did not think it was worthwhile to search for that name as there would have been numerous references to the name, simply on the basis of its reference to the county name, and not to an individual or family.

[TOC] Table of Contents

[TOC] Kansas Duffies, Mahaffys, etc.