Recorded in many spellings including McDuffie, McFee, McPhee, Duffie, Dusey, Dussey, Dussy and O'Duhig, this is an ancient Gaelic surname which in its various spellings be found both in Ireland and Scotland. It derives from "Mac Dhubhshith" which translates as "The son of the black one of peace", but probably had the more logical meaning of a holy man who wore grey or black. This may be born out by the claim that the name as Dubhshith was borne by a 6th century saint who was also the archbishop of Armagh.Certainly the surname is one of the oldest in Scotland, although also recorded in most parts of Ireland, and in Munster is known as O' Duhig, but usually without the preposition. Examples of recordings include Johannes M' Duffie, a charter witness in Dumfriesshire in the reign of Alexander 11nd of Scotland (circa 1180), and Dusey Mcfee which seems to be an amalgam of the name, who was the tenant of Bar, a village in Islay, in 1541. James Duffy of Galway was a famine emigrant who left from Derry for New York on the ship "Mary-Harrington", on June 2nd 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is probably that of Thomas Macdoffy. According to the Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, during the reign of King John Balliol, he rendered homage in 1296. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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