Thursday, 15 October 2015

1st Duke of Fife

THE DUKES OF FIFE WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN ABERDEENSHIRE, WITH 135,829 ACRES

WILLIAM DUFF,  a descendant of Fyfe Macduff, who enjoyed considerable affluence and power, so far back as the 9th century, in the reign of KENNETH II of Scotland, was elevated to the peerage by Queen Caroline, when regent, as Baron Braco, in 1735.
Fyfe Macduff gave that king great assistance in his wars with the Picts, ca 834. On their reduction in 840, King Kenneth gave to this Macduff, in reward of his services, all the lands then called Othelinia, which he himself had conquered from the Picts, and which extended from Fife to Clackmannan, from east to west, and from the river Forth on the south, to the rivers Tay and Earn on the north.
Of this tract of land, which he called Fife, he was appointed hereditary thane, or baron; and this dignity was enjoyed by his posterity in a direct line to MACDUFF, 8th thane, with whom the genius of Shakespeare has made the world familiar.
This powerful thane having mainly contributed to the destruction of the usurper MACBETH, and having contributed to the restoration of MALCOLM III of Scotland, that king confirmed to him his county of Fife, and created him Mormaer, or Earl, in 1057, or 1061.
The title expired in 1353 on the decease of  Duncan, 13th Earl of Fife, without male issue. From the same ancestor descended David Duff, to whom ROBERT III of Scotland, in 1401, granted considerable lands, and the barony of Muldavit, which continued to be one of the chief titles of the family until alienated in the beginning of the reign of CHARLES I.
This William Duff, Lord Braco, was advanced to a viscountcy, and earldom, in 1759, by the titles of Viscount Macduff and Earl Fife.

His lordship married twice and was succeeded by his 2nd and eldest surviving son,

JAMES, 2nd Earl (1729-1809), who was created a peer of England, in 1790, as Baron Fife; but dying without male issue, in 1809, that barony became extinct, and the other titles devolved upon his brother,

ALEXANDER, 3rd Earl (1731-1811. His great-grandson,

THE RT HON ALEXANDER WILLIAM GEORGE (1849-1912), 6th Earl, KG, KT, GCVO, VD, PC, wedded Her Royal Highness The Princess Louise, The Princess Royal, in 1889.

The wedding marked the second time a descendant of Queen Victoria married a British subject (the first being the marriage of The Princess Louise, the Queen's 4th daughter, to the Duke of Argyll).

Two days after the wedding, Her Majesty advanced Lord Fife to the further dignity of a dukedom, as DUKE OF FIFE, and Marquess of Macduff, in the County of Banff.
The second quarter of the Fife arms includes the arms of the United Kingdom as borne by HM King Edward VII, differenced by a Label of five points Argent the points charged with two Thistles between three Crosses of St George Gules (HRH The Princess Royal, Duchess of Fife).

DUFF HOUSE, near Banff, Aberdeenshire, designed by the Scottish architect William Adam (1689-1748), is the grandest classical country house to be built on a fresh site in early 18th century Scotland.

It is considered to be an Adam masterpiece and is one of the most important buildings in northern Scotland.

The foundation stone was laid in 1735 and the building was finished five years later, although it took over a century to complete the interior.


The house was commissioned by William Duff, Lord Braco, later 1st Earl Fife, as a family home to replace a smaller more modest residence nearby, on the present site of Airlie Gardens in Banff.

The 1st Earl never actually lived here, preferring to live with his family at Rothiemay Castle, where he died in 1763.

The beautiful estate surrounding the house stretched for miles and remnants of its former glory can still be seen in the area.

The family continued to live at Duff House until 1906.

Duff House was in turn a palm court hotel, a sanatorium and a prisoner of war camp.

Since 1995, Duff House has been part of the National Galleries of Scotland and houses a range of art treasures and superbly furnished rooms.

It also hosts a programme of artistic events and is used as a base for artists and writers.


ELSICK HOUSE, Aberdeenshire, is situated in an agricultural area about two miles from the North Sea near the town of Cammachmore; moreover, the Elsick Estate is situated within the Burn of Elsick watershed, which stream traverses the estate property.

The house is located on the Elsick Estate (1,600 acres) and is the present family seat of His Grace the Duke of Fife.

During the Victorian era, the Duke of Fife also owned 72,432 acres of land in Banffshire and 40,959 acres in Moray; thus comprising a total of almost 250,000 acres in Scotland.

First published in November, 2013.   Fife arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

I spent some time in Banff in the 1960s - Duff house was shut-up and neglected. It's great to see restored. There are fantastic walks by the river.