Duff, James, second Earl of Fife 1729-1809, was second son of William Duff, Lord Braco of Kilbryde. His father, son of William Duff of Dipple, co. Banff, was M.P. for Banffshire 1727-34, was created Lord Braco in the peerage of Ireland 28 July 1735, and was advanced to the dignity of Earl of Fife and Viscount Macduff, also in the peerage of Ireland, by patent dated 26 April 1759, on proving his descent from Macduff, Earl of Fife. His mother was his father's second wife, Jean, daughter of Sir James Grant of Grant, bart. He was born 29 Sept. 1729. In 1754 he was elected M.P. for Banff, and was re-elected in 1761, 1768, 1774, and 1780, and in the parliament of 1784 represented the county of Elgin. He succeeded his father in the title and estates in September 1763, and devoted himself to the improvement of the property, which he largely increased by the purchase of land in the north of Scotland. He was twice awarded the gold medal of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, for his plantations, with which he covered fourteen thousand acres. He offered the farmers on his estate every inducement to cultivate their land on the most approved principles, and himself set the example by instituting near each of his seats a model farm, where agriculture and cattle-breeding were carried on under his personal supervision. In 1782 and 1783, when all crops failed, he allowed his highland tenants a reduction of twenty per cent. on their rents, and disposed of grain to the poor considerably below the market price, importing several cargoes from England, which he sold at a loss of 3,000l. He was created a British peer by the title of Baron Fife, 19 Feb. 1790. He held the appointment of lord-lieutenant of county Banff, and founded the town of Macduff, the harbour of which was built at a cost of 5,000l. He died at his house in Whitehall, London, 24 Jan. 1809, and was buried in the mausoleum at Duff House, Banffshire. He married, 5 June 1759, Lady Dorothea Sinclair, only child of Alexander, ninth earl of Caithness, but he had no issue, and his British peerage became extinct on his death. He was succeeded in his Irish earldom by his next brother, Alexander.

     Douglas and Wood's Peerage of Scotland, i. 578
     Scots Mag. lxxi. 159
     Foster's Members of Parliament (Scotland).

Contributor: A. V. [Alsager Vian]

Published: 1888