The surname of MacDUFF is an abbreviated form of Duffin in County Wexford, MacElduff in County Tyrone, and of Duffy in several other counties. Several distinct O'Dubhtaigh septs provide the ancestry of the Duffs and O'Duffys, whose surname is one of the fifty most common in Ireland. The name in Gaelic was Dubh, and was taken to Ireland by settlers from Scotland. Early records of the name mention Brokynus Duff, who was on an inquisition on lands in Aberdeen in the year 1341. In 1404 Rober Duff and his spouse had a charter of the lands of Maldavit and Baldavy, and part of the lands of Twlifergus was let to Donald Duff in 1456. 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. Early records in England mention Robertus Douff et Uxor Ejus, of Yorkshire, who was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Edward Duffe of County Somerset, was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans. Of these, only a few were really popular and in the 12th century this scarcity of christian names led to the increasing use of surnames to distinguish the numerous individuals of the same name. Some Normans had hereditary surnames before they came to England, but there is evidence that surnames would have developed in England even had there been no Norman Conquest. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each person owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized, and it became official that each individual acquired exact identification. The lion depicted in the arms is the noblest of all wild beasts which is made to be the emblem of strength and valour, and is on that account the most frequently borne in Coat-Armour.
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