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The Earl of Fife or Mormaer of Fife referred to the Gaelic comital lordship of Fifemarker which existed in Scotlandmarker until the early 15th century.

The Mormaers of Fife were the highest ranking native nobles in Scotlandmarker. They frequently held the office of Justiciar of Scotia - highest brithem in the land - and enjoyed the right of crowning the Kings of Scots. The Mormaer's function, as with other medieval Scottish lordships, was kin-based. Hence, in 1385, the Earl of Fife, seen as the successor of the same lordship, is called capitalis legis de Clenmcduffe (=Lord of the Law of the Children of Macduff).

The lordship existed in the Middle Ages until its last earl, Murdoch (Muireadhach), Duke of Albany, was executed by James I of Scotland.

Chief (ceann) of Clann meic Duib

The deputy or complementary position to mormaer or earl of Fife was leadership of Clan MacDuff (clann meic Duibh). There is little doubt that the style MacDuib, or Macduff, derives from the name of King Cináed III mac Duib, and ultimately from this man's father, King Dub (d. 966). Compare, for instance, that Domhnall, Lord of the Isles, signed a charter in 1408 as MacDomhnaill. The descendants of Cináed III adopted the name in the same way that the descendants of Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig called themselves Uí Briain, although it does seem that at least initially MacDuff was a style reserved for the man who held the Mormaership of Fife.

The chieftancy of the clan was not always held by the mormaer, especially after the mormaerdom became subject to the laws of feudal primogeniture in the reign of Donnchadh I. For example, at the Battle of Falkirk, it is the head of the clan who led the men of Fife, rather than the Mormaer.

List of holders

List of mormaers/earls of Fife

Recreation of 1759


  • See Clan Mcduff under Scottish Clans under "Clan".


  1. John Bannerman, "MacDuff of Fife" p. 24.


  • Bannerman, John, "MacDuff of Fife," in A. Grant & K.Stringer (eds.) Medieval Scotland: Crown, Lordship and Community, Essays Presented to G.W.S. Barrow, (Edinburgh, 1993), pp. 20-38
  • Barrow, G. W. S., Robert Bruce and the Community of the Realm of Scotland, (Edinburgh, 1988)
  • Barrow, G.W.S. Earl's of Fife in the 12th Century, (Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 1952-53), pp. 51-61.
  • Lawrie, Sir Archibald C., Early Scottish Charters Prior to A.D. 1153, (Glasgow, 1905), no. XXXVI, pp. 28-31, pp. 283-84
  • Roberts, John L., Lost Kingdoms: Celtic Scotland and the Middle Ages, (Edinburgh, 1997)

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