Clan Wemyss History

Ruins of MacDuff's Castle, Fife

Ruins of MacDuff’s Castle, Fife

The name of Wemyss is derived from the Gaelic ‘uaimh’ meaning ‘cave’.

On the coast of Fife, below the ruin known as MacDuff’s Castle are caves containing Pictish paintings and it is thought that these gave rise to local place name of Wemyss. Wemyss has been the seat of the chiefs of the Clan Wemyss since the twelfth century and they almost certainly took their name from the land where they made their home.

The Wemyss family have the distinction of being one of the few lowland families directly descended from the Celtic nobility, through the MacDuff Earls of Fife.

The family initially ensured their prosperity by supporting the cause of Robert the Bruce, and thereafter the name multiplied into many branches. The family seat, Wemyss Castle was built early in the thirteenth century and has the distinction of being the setting for the first meeting of Mary, Queen of Scots and her future husband, Henry, Lord Darnley.

By the eighteenth century the Wemyss family were recognised as the senior representatives of the ancient earldom of Fife.

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