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It is not intended that an in-depth study or undertaking be presented in the web page, there are several very complete and complex studies done on the origins of the McFie, Macfie , or as we have been led to believe the MacDhubhsith.
Should one wish to delve further into the origins of this wonderful family it is suggested that they purchase the volumes of - The Mythology, Traditions and History of the MacDHUBHSITH - MacDuffie Clan -
researched, complied and written by Earle Douglas Macphee, M.M.,M.A.,LL.D., D.U.C., D.C.L., Emeritus Dean of the University of British Columbia, Canada ,now deceased.

( these can be obtained by directing an E-mail to Mrs Barbara MacPhee) .

For those of you who are more inclined to use the internet to obtain your information there are many sites on the system that have produced large quantities of information on MacDHUBHSITH .
It is recommended however that you visit the official Macfie site,

containing quality information, sanctioned by the Commander of Clan Macfie, Mr Iain Morris McFie of Kingussie, Scotland.
Any questions that you may seek answers for should be directed to his attention.

The many other sites that portray themselves as official Macfie sites contain great quantities of interesting information however before accepting this as the gospel truth
remember that you are dealing with mythologies. Wonderful stories told generation to generation, embellished by the story tellers themselves , the true beginnings impossible to verify.




As to the origins of the Macfie family who became known as theSugar Macfies , we have so far been unable to establish facts much before 1680,
and even then until 1710 the information is uncertain. Attached to a letter written in 1849 by Jessie Macfie Thorbun to her brother John Macfie is a somewhat uncolarborated list of
vaguely related family information.

McPhees or Macfie ( extract 1849 )

Lachan McPhee of Adonaclach, who is mentionned on the Ragmans Rolls in 1431, married Greas ( Grace) 3rd daughter of Fergus Mackinnon of Ardehingte , whose uncle was Abbot of Iona circ 1397. Lachan McPhee was knighted by James I ,
after the suppression of the rebellion of Donal Ballack , kinsman of Alastair �MacDonald , Lord of the Isles. His arms were a Loin rampart , gules etc. His son Ian Dhu ( McPhee) followed the fortunes of Archibald Douglas, Earl of Moray and was killed in 1455 in a skirmish at Arkinholm, Eskdale.

His decendants settled as petty baron near Sanquhar and the best knows was Robert McPhee of the Cragie Knowne , who was hanged for sheep stealing in 1573. After this misfortune the family seems to have fallen into poverty.

We next hear of Dougald McPhee who was either grandson or great grandson of this Robert and who was Parish Minister of Colonsay. He was buried in Colonsay in 1615 and his tombstone can still be deciphered ( 1849). This Dougald's eldest son Hamish married Margaret McNeil in 1610, her brother was a McLeod of West. In the family Bible she is described as " Beau wee wife with a strong family " Her son who was known as Hamish Mahe was said to have been over seven feet high and a grand player of the pipes.

This Hamish's great grandson , william migrated to Greenock and seems to have been the first of his family to speel the name Macfie. From this point the descent is easy to trace, the present representation is now in Austrlia ( 1849).

The well known sugar refinery family are cadets of a younger brother .

From a more modern revision of the familiy papers the recorded story is that one Robert Mcfie, a seafaring man, of Rothesay , on the Isle of Bute, Scotland who may have or may not have plied his trade in and around the Irish sea,
decided at one point that he would try his hand at farming, and settled on the main land near West Kilbride , Aryshire. There is recorded in some family papers a suggestion that this Robert who was allegedly born about 1680,
His father could well have been Donald McFie, tacksman of Colonsay in 1651 and 1652, and his grandfather was Rev. Dugald McPhee "Parish Minister" of Colonsay who died in 1615,
the son of Seamus or James Mor McPhee a famous piper . The immediate difficulty concerns the status of the Parish Minister - Colonsay remained notoriously catholic until 1647,
but of course the role of Prior had become hereditary in the McPhee family long before the Reformation .

There are no records as to the connection between these three persons , so it is very difficult indeed to state that the origins of the Sugar Macfie family can be found on the Island of Colonsay

In the University of Glasgow, Scotland, there are 35 boxes of family papers, and other paraphernalia that contain invaluable information on the Sugar Macfies,
however these records do not allow one to get past the most basic dates of 1710. There was a book written in 1938, titled - John Macfie of Edinburgh and his family - written by his great grandson,
John William Scott Macfie, in which the author states that his great grandfather John, who died n his 70th year " had preserved nearly all the letters, he received, infact almost every scrap of paper excepting newspapers. He had folded them neatly, docketed them, and made them up into bundles, month by month, and the at the end of the year wrapped them in a brown paper parcel, which he carefully labeled and put away - (a solid block of from 3,000 to 4,000 documents):"

These papers were first stored at Dreghorn Castle then ,after the death of John, moved to Rowton Hall, where they were reread and some burned during the quiet winter months. Upon the death of Robert Andrew Macfie ,John's son, the remaining papers were transported to Shaws where they were stored in conditions that allowed many more of them to be destroyed by water and dampness. Finally in 1938, one hundred and fifty years after the founding of the second Greenock sugar refinery by Robert McFie and one hundred years after the founding of the firm of Macfie & Sons, Liverpool, the remaining papers were reviewed and a story was written using the information culled from what was left of a most valuable lot of family history.

From these notes, then we are able to state with some certainty, that Robert McFie (1680) crossed from Rothesay to the main land, first settling in
West Kilbride , Ayrshire, then later moving first to Overton then on to Mauken Hill , near the Crawfurdsyke area in the Parish of Greenock , Renfrewshire, and finally to Innerkip , where he settled his family near the Waulk Mill. What the notes do not provide us with however, is any reason for this moving about. Looking at the the older maps of the area, we see that there were water works in both areas, and from the topicalgraphic maps, the area seems to be relatively lush farmland. Perhaps the area around West Kilbride provided little opportunity for young Robert, who as a seafaring man would no doubt be looking for a chance to better his position. The Overton location would have been reached by travelling up the road from Largs to Greenock, a distance of perhaps a days traveling at that time. Once in the Overton area, we can imagine Robert leasing a house, or cottage as it would be, along with a tract of land on which he could farm. Can we believe that there was a greater opportunity, or a large farm to be had at the Maulkin Hill, and Robert decided that he should try his hand in some thing larger. Was he disappointed with the prospect in Overton, and decided to try elsewhere.

William in his notes does not provide any details that could allow us to create a time table. The earliest information that William provides is that his grandfather William (1710) lived at the Waulk Mill Innerkip, and when his son Robert was born he rented a small farm at Daff. The Robert to whom William refers was born in 1746, so we can establish an approximate date from here. At this point William goes on to state that his father's father commanded a sloop or barque belonging to Thomas Orr and traded like his father before him to the Isle of Man, Ireland and so forth. The IGI records provide several indications that a family of Thomas Orr were indeed of Inverkip.

William (1776-1854) goes further on to state that (and this is perhaps in error) - his great grandfather William resided at Mauken Hill in the Parish of Greenock, his burying ground is in the Old Church Yard

First and foremost, his great grandfather was named Robert, and he still resided at Maulkin Hill, perhaps there is an old church yard in the area that would hold a lot of answers. If not this burying ground, then perhaps William was referring to the main Greenock Cemetery off Inverkip St. , where we find John Galt, and his sister Agnes's family of Robert Andrew Macfie,and children, ( Robert Andrew being the great grandson to Robert of Maulken Hill).

There is a mention of an eldest son named William,who married Margaret Barclay of Largs, ( not far down the road from Overton) however there is no mention of any other family members.Even with this William, who is the grandfather of the John Macfie who in turn is the subject matter of the book, we are uncertain if he had been married twice and had produced a greater number of children than were recorded.

The records that were left intact and readable after their being stored and transported over several decades, allowed the author of the book on "John Macfie of Edinburgh and his family", to create a family tree to 1938, yet did not provide sufficient information to allow him to establish the fact that Robert McFie (1680) was indeed born in 1680, or that he died in 1749, or that he married a Mary Lyons, or that she was infact the mother of William Mcfie born in 1710 ( or there abouts). The author however, did record this information in his family tree and since it cannot be denied, nor be clearly established as fact, it has been accepted as the origins of the sugar Macfie family line.


Consideration must be given to the recorded information of Dr Earle Douglas MacPhee , who stated that he had been loaned two volumes of the "Isle of Bute in the Olden Times" by the Reverend James King Hewison and had found that almost as many McFies lived on that island as there were in Colonsay. Dr Earle MacPhee also provided records of marriages and birth in the West Kilbride area, which have now that the IGI records are on the internet been confirmed , we find a Robert McFie, married to an Ann Craig in 1708 . According to the IGI records this union produced a daughter Anna born in 1721.

With other information provided to Dr Earle MacPhee, by Glenn McDuffie, such as the West Kilbride parish records,
we find a Robert McFie, his wife (unknown) and 6 children - William 1709, John 1711, Daniel 1718, Anna 1721, Katherine 1722 and Robert 1725

We then find a Robert McFie married to a Janet McNeil ,in July of 1721, which might indicate that Ann Craig may have died at child birth and Robert remarried. The union of Janet McNeill and Robert McFie according to the IGI records produced Katherine 1722, and Robert 1725 ( both noted in above family).

Nothing has been located to show a union of a Robert McFie and a Mary Lyon, let a lone showing a birth in 1709-1710 of a William McFie.

At one time in his notes William Macfie writes " my grandmother Mary Ramsay died at Innerkip in 1760 ( the mother of my grand mother was Agnes Lyon wife of ( left blank at that time and lost for all time). Perhaps this is where the confusion of the family name of Lyon comes in, instead of being applied to the Ramsay side of the family it was assumed to be married into the Mcfie side of the family.

William further wrote " My grandfather William McFie lived at the Waulk Mill, Innerkip, when my father was born he rented a small farm and died at Daff, he commanded a small sloop or barque belonging to Thomas Orr and traded to the Isle of Man, Ireland and & etc. My great grandfather William McFie resided at Mauken Hill in the Parish of Greenock, his burying ground is in the Old Church yard ."
( Here exception must be taken with William's notes because his father was named Robert, his grandfather was named William, and his great grandfather who died in 1749 and who is buried in the old Church yard is named not William but ROBERT, so even in 1848 when William (1776-1854) wrote his memories some of the information stated is at times unreliable)

William Macfie writes also in a postscript " William Macfie, my uncle, an elder brother of my father, built the house at Bridge end, Innerkip and resided long there, carrying on the business of joiner and wheelwright."




McFie family tree according to the information provided in Lady McLure 's register

Robert McFie

Mary Lyons

William McFie

No records have been located to confirm a marriage between a Robert McFie and a Mary Lyons
No records have been located to confirm a birth of Robert McFie in 1680
No records have been located to confirm the death of Mary Lyons
No records have been located to confirm birth of William or others as a result of the union of Robert McFie and Mary Lyons

From notes written by William Macfie (1776-1854) it is stated that Robert had a small farm at the Waulk Mill, Innerkip and that his son William (grandfather to William (1776-1854)) died in 1789 at the age of 79. This permits one to assume that perhaps the birth date would be 1710, or it could be 1709 or 1711 depending on the month of death which was not provided.
Further along in his notes William writes that his grandfather died in the year 1789, aged above 80 , which complicates the dating of the birth.

William McFie

Mary Ramsay

William McFie
John McFie
Anna McFie
Robert McFie
John McFie

From notes written by William Macfie (1776-1854) it was stated that Mary Ramsay died at Innerkip, she was a daughter of Thomas Ramsay and sister of Thomas Ramsay, James Ramsay and Andrew Ramsay.

Apparently William ( 1776-1854) consulted the records at Innerkip, as he goes on to write, "extracts from the Parish register of Innerkip, William McFie, son of William McFie and Mary Ramsay at the Wake Mill, born the 15th and baptized on the 21st November 1736.

Anna , daughter of William McFie and Mary Ramsay at the Wake Mill ,born n the 1st and baptized on the 3rd April 1743. Robert, son of William McFie and Mary Ramsay born on the 11th baptized on the 15th February 1746, John , son of William McFiee and Mary Ramsay, at the Wake Mill born on the 22nd and baptized on the same day 22 May 1748."

What William did not note was a birth to William McFie and Mary Ramsay of a first John McFie on the 27 of April 1740, and since there was a second John baptized from this union, it can be assumed that the first John died either at birth or at least before 1748 The difficulties arise from the fact that nothing was mentioned of the families or family members who did not become involved in the sugar operations in Greenock.

While it has been possible to proceed further down the line of William (1736-1817 ), it cannot be said the same for John 1740, Anna 1743 nor John 1748.

It is to be noted that mention of a second marriage to one Isabella Rae, would have taken place, yet no record has been located to confirm this . It is also noted that mention of further offspring from this union may have occurred, but again nothing was written by William (1776-1854) to elaborate on these statements.

McFie family origins possible according to IGI records

1st marriage
Robert McFie

January 30 1708
West Kilbride, Ayrshire

Anna Craig

William McFie
John McFie
Daniel McFie
Anna McFie

2nd marriage
Robert McFie

July 28, 1721
West Kilbride, Ayrshire

Janet McNeil

Katherine McFie
Robert McFie

This information would more or less correspond with the records of Dr Earle MacPhee

The only difficulty accepting the IGI version as that of the sugar Macfie origins is the fact that the names of Katherine and Daniel do not appear to have been carried on down the line as was done for decades in the Scottish naming process. We have William, Robert , John, Janet, and Anna, which repeat themselves throughout the family records, the first born male carrying the name of the father, the next male that of the grandfather etc. It could be surmised however that the William of 1710-1789, in naming his children in the Scottish fashion of the times, ran out of children, that is to say had less children born to his unions than was the case for the majority of the Scottish families.

In producing only five children, William was able to name his first born male after himself, his second born male after John his brother ( which throws the naming scheme of things to the wind), his first born female child named for his mother Anna (Craig) and not Mary Lyon, his third son named for William's father Robert and then again the next male renamed John ( presumably the first son John died at birth or at least before the second birth) after William's brother.

William not producing any more children was not then able to pass down the name of Katherine nor that of Daniel and the next generation at the time not knowing of the existence of these two family members, or perhaps these two family members did not live long enough to be known to the next generation , the names were simply forgotten.

Then again William and his wife may have simply chosen names they preferred and named their children such, not taking into account what appeared to be a traditional way Scottish children were named.

It is most unfortunate that William Macfie (1776-1854) who took the time to delve into the origins of some of his inlaws, did not spend a bit of this effort to clearly identify the origins of his own family . Unfortunately as he began to write his story in 1848, his parents were dead, as were his grandparents, and since he did not appear to verify more of the records in the parish of Innerkip we are left with many questions some 200 years later.

With all the time and effort that William took to write it is really a shame that he did not think to spend a bit more time reviewing the records concerning his grand father's and great grandfather's origins, nor their individual family records. William was living at Langhouse, the home of his father, in Inverkip, just up from the Daff where his grandfather and siblings had been born. Inverkip , itself not being a great distance, even in those time from West Kilbride. This family of McFie, appearing to be a christian family, would have certainly chosen to have been buried with the proper and necessary blessings of the time, and surely would have required a marker of some type to be placed at the location of internment. In 1848 the ability to locate and read from these items would certainly have been far easier that it would be today some 200 years later, so it appears that some work has to be done if any interested party really wants to know the whole story of the sugar Macfie family.

From this beginning the information that has been readily available, either through

- the IGI records,

- the notes from the publication " John Macfie of Edinburgh and his family" 1938

- the extensive work done by Lady McLure in her register of 1906

- the extensive work done by the Thorburn Family Society of Sweden

- the many reports, notes , letters received by Douglas Macfie of Canada, from the family members who gave this project it's " raison d'etre " since 1981

- the generous time and effort provided by Mrs Couperwhite, Local History Librarian at the Watt Library in Greenock , who provided a precious quantity of family information

- and the general information made available on the internet by all those researches who, while not researching the sugar Macfie family in particular, provided information of the related families

has been placed in the respective family confines and made available on the various web pages that this site contains.

I hope that the efforts to publicize this information provides those of you who are interested with a good bit of pleasant reading, and provides to those of you who are not really interested, but curious , just a hint of how grand a family you are involved with.

I am constantly seeking to update the records, to make contact with family members, to place more information on the web pages. I beg of you , to lend me a hand . Instead of throwing out Auntie's old papers, notes and or correspondence perhaps we can scan it and keep it for prosperity. Pictures are worth their weight in gold when it comes to explaining situations, and again we now have the possibilities to scan and keep records for posterity.

I welcome everything and anything, no matter how insignificant you think it might be, you may be holding the key that turns the lights on every thing
. In order to make our family tree a living tree we must all become gardeners, we must furnish the tree with the necessities that it needs to survive and grow.

I count on each and every one of you and I bless you all.

What remains to be verified

Birth date of Robert McFie of Bute
Date of Marriage and location to Mary Lyon
Dates of birth and death and location of Mary Lyon
Dates of births , names of children, of union of Mary Lyon and Robert McFie
Date of birth and death and location of Anna Craig
Date of Birth and death and location of Janet McNeil
Disposition of John McFie born 1711
Disposition of Daniel McFie born 1718
Disposition of Katherine McFie born 1722
Disposition of Robert McFie born 1725
Disposition of Anna McFie born 1721
Disposition of John McFie born 1740
Disposition of Ann McFie born 1743
Disposition of John McFie born 1748

Date and place of union of Isabella Rae and William McFie (1710-1789)
Dates of births , names of children, of union of Isabella Rae and William McFie (1710-1789)

The only way that much of this information can be verified is by researching original records in Scotland, a task that I, living at present in Canada find difficult .