THE first historic Chief was Angus Du (1380-1429). He was assassinated, and the clan was ruled by his younger son, until the rightful heir obtained his release from captivity on the Bass Rock, 1437. The latter’s son was Chief and led the clan in the cruel fight of Blair Tannic, Caithness. In 1628 Sir Donald Mackay of Strathnaver, Chief of the clan, was created Lord Reay, with remainder to his heirs male bearing the name and arms of Mackay, which, however, have never been recorded. The major portion of the estates was sold in the seventeenth century to pay the cost of maintaining and transporting 2000 men whom Lord Reay recruited for foreign service to assist the Protestant cause in the great Thirty Years’ War. The earliest Gaelic charter extant was granted by Donald, Lord of the Isles, to Brian Vicar Mackay in 1408.
THE Macfies are Celts, and are supposed to be of the race of Alpin. In Gaelic the clan name is Dubhsithe the dark featured tribe. The English form Duffie has passed into MacDuffie, and further, into Macfie, spelt variously Macafee, Macfee, and Macphee. In 1549 the island of Colonsay, in Argyll, is recorded to be under the sway of “ane gentle Capitane called MacDuffyhe.” His descendants, the MacDuffies or Macphees, held the island until the middle of the seventeenth century. Their burial place was the island of Oronsay. The effigies on their tombstones represent them either as warriors or churchmen. In 1645 Coll MacDonald and followers were charged with the murder of Malcolm Macphee of Colonsay. Subsequently the Macphees were dispossessed, and, as a “broken clan,” were merged into clans more powerful. Some followed the MacDonalds of Islay; others sheltered under Cameron of Lochiel, and became conspicuous for their courage; while the remainder settled on the shores of Clyde, and even in Ireland, where they were called Machaffie or Macafee. The Macfies, along with the Camerons, charged desperately at Culloden. They were Royalists; and the motto Pro rege was recorded as in the arms of Macfie of Dreghorn.