Isabella MacDuff, Countess of Fife

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Isabella MacDuff, Countess of Fife

Birthplace: Dunferline Castle, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland
Death: between August 12, 1389 and March 31, 1396 (65-80)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Duncan IV, 10th Earl of Fife and Mary de Monthermer, Countess of Fife
Wife of Sir William de Felton, of Edlingham; Walter Stewart, Earl of Fife; Sir Thomas Byset, of Upsetlington and John de Dunbar, Earl of Fife
Mother of Sir John Felton, of Fife; Joan Faucomberge; Duncan Felton, of Fife and Constance Fauconberge, of Fife

Managed by: Erica Howton
Last Updated:

About Isabella MacDuff, Countess of Fife

Isabella MacDuff, Countess of Fife (c. 1320– before 1396) was a Scottish noblewoman who was Countess of Fife from 1363 until she resigned the title in 1371. She was the only child of Duncan, Earl of Fife, by his wife Mary de Monthermer, daughter of Ralph, Lord Monthermer and Joan of Acre. Isabel was dead before 31 March 1396, when her son Sir John de Felton died.


  1. between 7 October 1332 and around 1340 to her guardian Sir William de Felton. Sir William de Felton died 21 September 1358.
  2. between 21 July 1360 and 5 June 1361 to Walter Stewart (c.1338–1362), second son of Robert Stewart, 7th High Steward of Scotland (afterwards King Robert II) and Elizabeth Mure. He was living as "Dominus de Fyff", 14 Aug. 1362, but d. s.p., very soon afterwards.
  3. January 1363 to Sir Thomas Bisset of Upsetlington in Berwickshire. He d.s.p. 17 Apr. 1365
  4. after 17 Apr. 1365 to John de Dunbar, in her right Earl of Fife, having had a charter to him and his said wife of that Earldom. He d.s.p., before 1371.

By her first marriage she had a son, Sir John de Felton of Edlingham (d. 1396).

No issue by her other marriages.



In 1332 she and her mother had been captured at Perth by supporters of Edward Balliol. She was sent as a ward to Northumberland.

Her first husband was Sir William Ramsay of Colluthie in Fife, whom she married around 1358. [SIC: did not marry him]. He died soon afterwards, leaving a son, but by an earlier marriage. She was next married, before June 1361, to Walter Stewart, second son of Robert Stewart, later King Robert II. He died without issue the following year, and she was married again in January 1363 to Sir Thomas Bisset of Upsetlington in Berwickshire. He had died by April 1366. She was married for a fourth and final time to John Dunbar, who died before 1371. She had no children by any of her marriages. [not true: her son was Sir John de Felton d 1396]

Isabel was persuaded to resign the earldom on 30 March 1371 to Robert Stewart, Earl of Menteith (later Duke of Albany), who was her brother-in-law by her second marriage. She died shortly after 12 August 1389 and was buried next to Walter Stewart.


  1. Grant, Rev'd Alexander, "The Ancient Earls of Fife", in Sir James Balfour Paul (ed.) The Scots Peerage, Volume IV, (Edinburgh, 1907), pp. 13-14
  2. Gray, Thomas, Scalacronica (pub. 1911)
  3. Boardman, Steve, The Early Stewart Kings, Robert II and Robert III (1996), ch. 1, esp. p. 13 ff.

From Some corrections and additions to the Complete Peerage: Volume 5: Fife (PROPOSED CORRECTIONS) retrieved May 2016:

Volume 5, pages 374, 375:

ISABEL, or ELIZABETH, suo jure COUNTESS OF FIFE [S.], only da. and h. [of Duncan, Earl of Fife (d. 1353)] She m., 1stly, William RAMSAY, of Colluthie, who, in her right, was EARL OF FIFE [S.], and as such was witness to a charter 12 Apr. 1357. He was alive Mar. 1359/60, though he probably d. soon afterwards.(f)

This account contains a number of errors, the most serious being the alleged marriage between Isabel and William de Ramsay. Presumably this was invented to account for William's possession of the earldom, but there is no evidence for it. On the contrary, Isabel was the wife of Sir William de Felton of Edlingham when William de Ramsay was made earl of Fife.


The Scalacronica says that Isabel married her guardian Sir William de Felton [p. 126]. This marriage must have taken place between 7 October 1332, when earl Duncan's wife and daughter were captured at Perth by the supporters of David de Bruce [A.B. Scott and D.E.R. Watt, eds, Scotichronicon, vol. 7, p. 83 (1996)], and around 1340, when her son John de Felton was born (he is said to be aged 26 or 28 in 1367, and is described in the inquisition taken after his own death as the son of William de Felton and his wife Isabel [Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vol. 12, no 200 ; vol. 17, no 636]).

This account is confirmed by a petition to the Pope in 1351 on behalf of Duncan, the son of Sir William de Felton, in which William is said to be related to the king on his wife's side (as Isabel was through her mother) [Calendar of Papal Petitions, vol. 1, p. 210; Calendar of Papal Letters, vol. 3, p. 428]. Sir William de Felton died 21 September 1358 (see Felton, vol. 5, p. 294), more than six months after William de Ramsay had been created earl of Fife.

Isabel was described as still "in her pure widowhood" on 21 July 1360 [Acts of David II, no 239]. Her second husband Walter Stewart was referred to as lord of Fife in accounts covering the period 5 June 1361 to 14 August 1362, [Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, vol. 2, p. 115], but was not necessarily living at the latter date.

Her third husband Thomas Byset was dead by 17 April 1366, not 1365 as stated above [Acts of David II, no 352].

Isabel was dead by 31 March 1396, when her son Sir John de Felton died [Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, vol. 17, no 636].

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Isabella MacDuff, Countess of Fife's Timeline

Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland
Age 20
Northumberland, England
August 12, 1389
Age 69
Northumberland, England
Northumberland, England