Moray Family History Sharing
St Peter's Church, Duffus
kindly supplied by Gordon D Duffus
The now ruined structure of St. Peter’s Church was originally built sometime around the middle of the 1100’s by the de Moravia Family (who were to eventually become the Sutherlands and Murrays) and was used as a chapel for nearby Duffus Castle. The first Village of Duffus sprung up around the church and the Merchat Cross (minus its’ arms) of the village is still present in the graveyard. The current ruin is actually a re-build of the medieval one, parts of the old church having been removed during renovations in the 17th century. There still remains a Gothic Porch, built in 1524 by the then Rector, Alexander Sutherland. The Sutherland arms are engraved on one of the stones. A “Preaching Cross” also remains from the same period.
In 1297, Reginald de Chene was in possession of the lands and Castle of Duffus, having married an heiress of the de Moravia (Sutherland) family. Reginald was a supporter of the Comyn Faction during The Wars of Independence and as such, had his castle and St. Peter’s burned by the followers of Robert the Bruce. Reginald petitioned King Edward I of England for permission to cut down 200 oaks to rebuild both his castle and St. Peter’s. It was probably at this time that Duffus Castle was re-built in stone instead of timber.
In the 14th century, the Barony of Duffus returned to the Sutherland family (also by marriage) and Alexander Sutherland, who had built the Gothic Porch, was Vicar of Duffus Castle. A few of the Sutherland Lairds of Duffus are buried in the vault located against the western gable of the church.
When Cromwell’s men invaded the area, they used the church as a barracks for themselves and as a stable for their horses. They constructed a dirt ramp over the stone wall so that they would not have to dismount while coming and going.
The form of worship at St. Peter’s passed from Roman Catholic to Protestant, the latter form alternating between Episcopalian and Presbyterian. After the restoration of the Stewarts in 1660, the Episcopalian form of worship was followed but in 1688, the church again became Presbyterian….. but with resistance from the congregation. The last Episcopal Vicar was Alexander Southerland who died in 1695. He was not replaced until 1701 when the Rev. Alexander Anderson was ordained Minister. The church was once again Presbyterian. In 1869, a new church was built in the village and the old Kirk was abandoned. Categorized as an Ancient Monument, the old church is under the care (and feeding) of HM Government.