Recorded in many forms including MacDuff, McDuff and MacDuffie, (Scotland and Ireland), and the Irish variants McGiff, McGiffe, and McGuff, this is a surname of pre 10th century Gaelic origins. All the spellings claim independance from each other, and that may well be correct, but what is not in question is that however spelt they all mean the same. That is that they derive from the ancient Gaelic words 'Mac duib' meaning the son of the black man. This is a literal translation and does not assume that the first chief was of African origin, but more likely that he was Celt who were dark haired and of dark complexion. Much of Scotland and Ireland as well as the Isle of Man were under Viking control for the latter part of the First Millenium, and they were of very fair complexion, so this may well be an ethnic name. The surname as MacDuff is much associated with MacBeth although it seems that these stories are at best allegorical, as the surname MacDuff did not exist in the 11th century! The first recording may be that of Malisius Mc Duf, seneschal of Stratherne in 1264, with Neil M'Duffy being recorded in Arane in 1460. In Ireland the name as McGiff and McGuff is associated with the province of Connacht, although it was almost certainly introduced from Scotland in the 14th century.
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