Several distinct O'Dubhthaigh septs provide the ancestry of the O'Duffy's and the Duffy families whose surname is one of the fifty most common in Ireland. It appears they were connected to the O'Dubhthaigh sept whose centre was Lossonuffy in County Roscommon barony. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. Early records of the name mention Roger Macedugh, 1264 Dublin. Malisius McDuf, 1373 Ireland. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames.They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another. A notable member of the name was Sir Charles DUFFY (1816-1903) Irish nationalist, made KCMG in 1873, born in County Monaghan. He helped to start the 'Nation' in 1842. He emigrated to Australia in 1856, became minister of public works in 1857, of lands in 1858 and prime minister in 1871.
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