The MacFie Warrior

The figure illustrating the clan is a Victorian era, romanticised depiction of a member of the clan by R. R. McIan, from The Clans of the Scottish Highlands, published in 1845. The clansman is dressed in a shirt of mail, called the lurich in Gaelic, and which was long retained in use by the Highlanders. The openings in the skirt gave freedom to the wearer, and the sword was thrust through a hole, as the most convenient method of carrying it. The head is protected by the clogaid, skull-piece, or helmet, of the conical form, worn by both the Gael and the Scandinavians, but longest retained by the Highlanders. He wears in it the eagle's wing, which we find was the peculair distinction of the chiefs. He is also armed with the da Sleag, two missile spears or darts, which are often associated with having been carried by the heroes of old.

What is in a name?

The oldest form of this surname is MacDhubhsith, and we find it written in a charter of 1463. Since the Gaels have a tendency to soften the pronunciation of words, thus the Gaelic language, which to a stranger would appear to be harsh and unpleasing from it's numerous consonants, is rendered very musical to the ear.

In the case of our clan name, 'Macdhubhsith' the 'd' is aspirated. Also in Gaelic two consonants written together are softened even further which then gives the effect of a soft guttural sound after the 'Mac" and the following 'h' is then spoken which then makes the pronunciation of the name more like Mhic-A-Phi, and is written thusly on the 'Carragh Mich A Phi' standing stone on the island of Colonsay. After the death of the chief in 1623, the clan lost the home island of Colonsay and became a broken clan.

Many clansmen joined the MacDonalds of Islay, others settled with Camerons of Lochiel, where they are reported to have distinguished themselves for bravery at Culloden. Others chose homes along the entrance of the Firth of Clyde while still others crossed the channel and settled in the north of Ireland. From there many migrated to America and Canada. It was probably while in Ireland the name began to be spelled according to the pronunciation, hence we get the different spellings of McAfee, McHaffie, McDuffy, McGuffey etc. In Kintyre the name assumed the form M'Covvie (Mac-ko-vee) some of this name emigrated to Canada before the middle of the 19th century. The name Cathey was prevalent in the Galloway district. The spelling Macfie, is associated with the Macfies of Aird, Beach, Dreghorn, Langhouse and the Trust of Oban. McPhee is usually found throughout Lochaber and MacPhee is the spelling which is often found Barra, Mull, South Uist, Moidart, and Morvern. However, The Lord Lyon of Scotland recognizes the spelling 'Macfie' as the only official spelling of our clan name.