McDuffie DNA Surname
11 May 2013 webpage now archived
DNA Surname Project was started just over 5 years ago by Rod Macduff,
and Australian radio engineer who wished to trace his ancestry. He has
organized and funded this independently of Clan MacFie but has cooperated
closely with the clan and is a member.
records such as birth death and marriage certificates, there is a limit
to how far back we can trace our ancestors. Scottish records get patchy
before 1700 and it is often difficult for USA and Canadian families
to establish links back to their Scottish ancestors. However Y-chromosome
DNA testing will accurately identify male bloodlines. Using a simple
cheek swab, living males can have their DNA tested. From the Y chromosome
marker results produced, they will find that their results will match
almost exactly all males with the same surname as themselves who are
descended from a common male ancestor as many as 10 generations ago
and beyond. This makes it possible to link distant cousins and bridge
gaps in the paper record where there is either no data or unclear data.
was set up in 2004 and in five years has had 136 people join the project.
DNA Surname Project was set up with the following objectives:
To determine if the clan is of Celtic or Norse origin.
To determine how many separate bloodlines there are
To determine if McDuffies, MacFies, McPhees and McAfees have a common
To determine if MacFies etc have their origins in Argyllshire
There is now
sufficient data to draw firm conclusions and issue a final report.
Main Bloodline Group 1
This is the dominant bloodline, containing a total of 33 members. Fascinatingly,
it contains all main surname spelling variants, namely: McDuffie, McDuffee,
McAfee, McPhee, McPhie, McFee and McFie and all of the Mac variants
thereof, thus absolutely and conclusively proving that all were once
the same name. One Duffie and three Catheys have matched Group 1.
This Group 1 bloodline is that of the immediate past Clan Commander,
Sandy MacPhie who has so encouraged this project. It is also the bloodline
of the new Clan Commander Iain Morris McFie. Additionally, it
contains the line of the last McPhee on Colonsay, the ancestral home
of the McDuffies. There are also those in this line, descended from
ancestors on Mull and on Skye, thus confirming the history that MacPhies
were dispersed all over the Inner Hebridies. The history linking McDuffies
with Antrim is also confirmed, as there are those in Group 1 who can
trace their ancestry to Londonderry. Several in Group 1 have descendants
who migrated to the USA or Canada. One of the lines on Prince Edward
Island is in this line. Clearly they would have come from the Inner
Finally in group 1 (and in others) the spelling McAfee is invariably
connected with clan members who are Scots Irish who arrived in the New
World from Ireland where the name McDuffie took on the spelling McAfee.
By the same token MacDonald is rendered as McDonnell in Ireland. In
earlier times movement back and forth between the Inner Hebridies and
Antrim was commonplace. The McDuffie common ancestor in Group 1 may
go back as much as 1000 years to the advent of surnames. It seems likely
that the clan chiefs would have been of this line.
Now in common with all other DNA Surname projects, there are many different
bloodlines bearing the family name. This can arise for many different
reasons. At the time of origin of the surname around 1000 years ago,
the surname would be a mark of affiliation to a group or clan of families
living in close proximity with a common destiny. There would be a clan
chief and a number of other males in the group. Not all these males
would necessarily have shared the same male ancestor at the time of
surname adoption. Clans often absorbed other non-genetically linked
groups as they expanded. Adoption of orphaned offspring of a sister
was common, and if there was no heir it may also occur. Infidelity was
a fact of life then as it is now. Over the years this leads to many
genetically separate lines with a common surname. This can be seen in
all other projects including the Campbell and McGregor DNA Projects.
Consequently, different bloodline does not mean “not of the MacFie
Some of the other Groups have clear evidence that they have had the
MacFie name for many hundreds of years. Having more than one member,
and surname spelling diversity points to this. In particular, Groups
3, 4, 5, 5a, 9, 10, 14, 20, 24 and 34 show this.
Group 9 is interesting, as these are the “Glen Urquart McFees”.
This group of 14 members have almost identical DNA and all hail from
Lochaber, Glen Urquhart and in some cases can trace ancestors back to
the early 1700s. In all probability all these members have a common
ancestor within the last 400 years. This is supported by less spelling
diversity, being confined to McPhee with two McPhies.
Group 3 has McPhees and McAfees in it indicating that one group were
Scots Irish at one point.
Group 5 contains most of the McDuffs and Duffs. This is the Clan MacDuff
bloodline. There is now sufficient data to show quite clearly that McDuffs
and McDuffies are not the same bloodline. Earle Douglas MacPhie asserted
this in his genealogies and has proved to be quite correct. McDuff Group
5 is a very “old” line too, again radiating from a common
ancestor. The origins in Scotland of this line seem to be in the county
of Perth and adjoining areas. A 100% match between MacDuffs who now
live overseas and a family who are still living in the area that their
ancestors lived in, has supported this theory. Both Duff and McDuff
surnames appear in this group and there is significant genetic spread,
evidence which supports the antiquity of this line.
Group 5a should be entirely independent from Group 5 as this group contains
McAfees, a Duffy and a McDuffey.
Group 15 contains McFee and McAfee surnames.
Group 20 has four McAfees whose descendents are all in USA
Group 24 has two McAfees.
Group 34 contains four McHaffeys
Celtic and Viking Origins
Of the 40 separate bloodlines most are R1b Haplogroup, which in layman's
terms means Celtic origin. Other McPhees of I Haplogroup are of
Norse origin. In common with most other Scottish clans the Celtic bloodlines
are very strong.
has been able to answer all the questions set at its instigation and
in doing so confirmed much which is in the history books, regarding
clan origins. There is probably not much more to be learned historically
from the project, however individuals who have not yet joined will be
able to establish their bloodline by joining. At some point in the future
the Clan may want to consider taking over maintenance and running of
the project, however for the time being Rod Macduff is happy to continue
as McDuffie DNA Surname Project Coordinator.