It is not intended that an in-depth study or undertaking be presented in the web page, there are several very complete and complex studies done on the origins of the McFie, Macfie , or as we have been led to believe the MacDhubhsith and should one wish to delve further into the origins of this wonderful family it is suggested that they purchase the volumes of - The Mythology, Traditions and History of the MacDHUBHSITH - MacDuffie Clan - researched, complied and written by Earle Douglas Macphee, M.M.,M.A.,LL.D., D.U.C., D.C.L., Emeritus Dean of the University of British Columbia, Canada ,now deceased. ( these can be obtained by directing an E-mail to Mrs Barbara MacPhee) .
For those of you who are more inclined to use the internet to obtain your information there are many sites on the system that have produced large quantities of information on MacDHUBHSITH . It is recommended however that you visit the official Macfie site, containing quality information, sanctioned by the Commander of Clan Macfie, Mr Iain Morris McFie of Kingussie, Scotland. Any questions that you may seek answers for should be directed to his attention.
The many other sites that portray themselves as official Macfie sites contain great quantities of interesting information however before accepting this as the gospel truth remember that you are dealing with mythologies. Wonderful stories told generation to generation, embellished by the story tellers themselves , the true beginnings impossible to verify. THE D N A PROJECT
As to the origins of the Macfie family who became known as the Sugar Macfies , we have so far been unable to establish facts much before 1680, and even then until 1710 the information is uncertain. Attached to a letter written in 1849 by Jessie Macfie Thorbun to her brother John Macfie is a somewhat uncolarborated list of vaguely related family information.
McPhees or Macfie ( extract 1849 )
Lachan McPhee of Adonaclach, who is mentionned on the Ragmans Rolls in 1431, married Greas ( Grace) 3rd daughter of Fergus Mackinnon of Ardehingte , whose uncle was Abbot of Iona circ 1397. Lachan McPhee was knighted by James I , after the suppression of the rebellion of Donal Ballack , kinsman of Alastair »MacDonald , Lord of the Isles. His arms were a Loin rampart , gules etc. His son Ian Dhu ( McPhee) followed the fortunes of Archibald Douglas, Earl of Moray and was killed in 1455 in a skirmish at Arkinholm, Eskdale.
His decendants settled as petty baron near Sanquhar and the best knows was Robert McPhee of the Cragie Knowne , who was hanged for sheep stealing in 1573. After this misfortune the family seems to have fallen into poverty.
We next hear of Dougald McPhee who was either grandson or great grandson of this Robert and who was Parish Minister of Colonsay. He was buried in Colonsay in 1615 and his tombstone can still be deciphered ( 1849). This Dougald's eldest son Hamish married Margaret McNeil in 1610, her brother was a McLeod of West. In the family Bible she is described as " Beau wee wife with a strong family " Her son who was known as Hamish Mahe was said to have been over seven feet high and a grand player of the pipes.
This Hamish's great grandson , william migrated to Greenock and seems to have been the first of his family to speel the name Macfie. From this point the descent is easy to trace, the present representation is now in Austrlia ( 1849).
The well known sugar refinery family are cadets of a younger brother .
From a more modern revision of the familiy papers the recorded story is that one Robert Mcfie, a seafaring man, of Rothesay , on the Isle of Bute, Scotland who may have or may not have plied his trade in and around the Irish sea, decided at one point that he would try his hand at farming, and settled on the main land near West Kilbride , Aryshire. There is recorded in some family papers a suggestion that this Robert who was allegedly born about 1680, (His father could well have been Donald McFie, tacksman of Colonsay in 1651 and 1652, and his grandfather was Rev. Dugald McPhee "Parish Minister" of Colonsay who died in 1615, the son of Seamus or James Mor McPhee a famous piper . The immediate difficulty concerns the status of the Parish Minister - Colonsay remained notoriously catholic until 1647, but of course the role of Prior had become hereditary in the McPhee family long before the Reformation) . There are no records as to the connection between these three persons , so it is very difficult indeed to state that the origins of the Sugar Macfie family can be found on the Island of Colonsay
In the University of Glasgow, Scotland, there are 35 boxes of family papers, and other paraphernalia that contain invaluable information on the Sugar Macfies, however these records do not allow one to get past the most basic dates of 1710. There was a book written in 1938, titled - John Macfie of Edinburgh and his family - written by his great grandson, John William Scott Macfie, in which the author states that his great grandfather John, who died n his 70th year " had preserved nearly all the letters, he received, infact almost every scrap of paper excepting newspapers. He had folded them neatly, docketed them, and made them up into bundles, month by month, and the at the end of the year wrapped them in a brown paper parcel, which he carefully labeled and put away - (a solid block of from 3,000 to 4,000 documents):"
These papers were first stored at Dreghorn Castle then ,after the death of John, moved to Rowton Hall, where they were reread and some burned during the quiet winter months. Upon the death of Robert Andrew Macfie ,John's son, the remaining papers were transported to Shaws where they were stored in conditions that allowed many more of them to be destroyed by water and dampness. Finally in 1938, one hundred and fifty years after the founding of the second Greenock sugar refinery by Robert McFie and one hundred years after the founding of the firm of Macfie & Sons, Liverpool, the remaining papers were reviewed and a story was written using the information culled from what was left of a most valuable lot of family history.
From these notes, then we are able to state with some certainty, that Robert McFie (1680) crossed from Rothesay to the main land, first settling in West Kilbride , Ayrshire, then later moving first to Overton then on to Mauken Hill , near the Crawfurdsyke area in the Parish of Greenock , Renfrewshire, and finally to Innerkip , where he settled his family near the Waulk Mill. What the notes do not provide us with however, is any reason for this moving about. Looking at the the older maps of the area, we see that there were water works in both areas, and from the topicalgraphic maps, the area seems to be relatively lush farmland. Perhaps the area around West Kilbride provided little opportunity for young Robert, who as a seafaring man would no doubt be looking for a chance to better his position. The Overton location would have been reached by travelling up the road from Largs to Greenock, a distance of perhaps a days traveling at that time. Once in the Overton area, we can imagine Robert leasing a house, or cottage as it would be, along with a tract of land on which he could farm. Can we believe that there was a greater opportunity, or a large farm to be had at the Maulkin Hill, and Robert decided that he should try his hand in some thing larger. Was he disappointed with the prospect in Overton, and decided to try elsewhere.
William in his notes does not provide any details that could allow us to create a time table. The earliest information that William provides is that his grandfather William (1710) lived at the Waulk Mill Innerkip, and when his son Robert was born he rented a small farm at Daff. The Robert to whom William refers was born in 1746, so we can establish an approximate date from here. At this point William goes on to state that his father's father commanded a sloop or barque belonging to Thomas Orr and traded like his father before him to the Isle of Man, Ireland and so forth. The IGI records provide several indications that a family of Thomas Orr were indeed of Inverkip.
William (1776-1854) goes further on to state that (and this is perhaps in error) - his great grandfather William resided at Mauken Hill in the Parish of Greenock, his burying ground is in the Old Church Yard
First and foremost, his great grandfather was named Robert, and he still resided at Maulkin Hill, perhaps there is an old church yard in the area that would hold a lot of answers. If not this burying ground, then perhaps William was referring to the main Greenock Cemetery off Inverkip St. , where we find John Galt, and his sister Agnes's family of Robert Andrew Macfie,and children, ( Robert Andrew being the great grandson to Robert of Maulken Hill).
There is a mention of an eldest son named William,who married Margaret Barclay of Largs, ( not far down the road from Overton) however there is no mention of any other family members.Even with this William, who is the grandfather of the John Macfie who in turn is the subject matter of the book, we are uncertain if he had been married twice and had produced a greater number of children than were recorded.
The records that were left intact and readable after their being stored and transported over several decades, allowed the author of the book on "John Macfie of Edinburgh and his family", to create a family tree to 1938, yet did not provide sufficient information to allow him to establish the fact that Robert McFie (1680) was indeed born in 1680, or that he died in 1749, or that he married a Mary Lyons, or that she was infact the mother of William Mcfie born in 1710 ( or there abouts). The author however, did record this information in his family tree and since it cannot be denied, nor be clearly established as fact, it has been accepted as the origins of the sugar Macfie family line.
Consideration must be given to the recorded information of Dr Earle Douglas MacPhee , who stated that he had been loaned two volumes of the "Isle of Bute in the Olden Times" by the Reverend James King Hewison and had found that almost as many McFies lived on that island as there were in Colonsay. Dr Earle MacPhee also provided records of marriages and birth in the West Kilbride area, which have now that the IGI records are on the internet been confirmed , we find a Robert McFie, married to an Ann Craig in 1708 . According to the IGI records this union produced a daughter Anna born in 1721.
With other information provided to Dr Earle MacPhee, by Glenn McDuffie, such as the West Kilbride parish records,
we find a Robert McFie, his wife (unknown) and 6 children - William 1709, John 1711, Daniel 1718, Anna 1721, Katherine 1722 and Robert 1725
We then find a Robert McFie married to a Janet McNeil ,in July of 1721, which might indicate that Ann Craig may have died at child birth and Robert remarried. The union of Janet McNeill and Robert McFie according to the IGI records produced Katherine 1722, and Robert 1725 ( both noted in above family).
Nothing has been located to show a union of a Robert McFie and a Mary Lyon, let a lone showing a birth in 1709-1710 of a William McFie.
At one time in his notes William Macfie writes " my grandmother Mary Ramsay died at Innerkip in 1760 ( the mother of my grand mother was Agnes Lyon wife of ( left blank at that time and lost for all time). Perhaps this is where the confusion of the family name of Lyon comes in, instead of being applied to the Ramsay side of the family it was assumed to be married into the Mcfie side of the family.
William further wrote " My grandfather William McFie lived at the Waulk Mill, Innerkip, when my father was born he rented a small farm and died at Daff, he commanded a small sloop or barque belonging to Thomas Orr and traded to the Isle of Man, Ireland and & etc. My great grandfather William McFie resided at Mauken Hill in the Parish of Greenock, his burying ground is in the Old Church yard ."
( Here exception must be taken with William's notes because his father was named Robert, his grandfather was named William, and his great grandfather who died in 1749 and who is buried in the old Church yard is named not William but ROBERT, so even in 1848 when William (1776-1854) wrote his memories some of the information stated is at times unreliable)
William Macfie writes also in a postscript " William Macfie, my uncle, an elder brother of my father, built the house at Bridge end, Innerkip and resided long there, carrying on the business of joiner and wheelwright."
|William McFie |
|William McFie |
|Robert McFie |
January 30 1708
West Kilbride, Ayrshire
|William McFie |
July 28, 1721
West Kilbride, Ayrshire