The origin of the name itself is thought to be Norse. William de Mont Alto, progenitor of the Movats, married the youngest daughter of Andlaw, who came to Scotland from Norway during the tenth century. Over the years the name softened to Montealt, then Movat, through Movest, eventually settling at Moffat in its modern form. In the twelfth century the family was of sufficient importance to be designated in deeds and records as ‘de Moffet’, showing the family were considered to be principal lairds, or landowners. The ancestor of the Moffats most likely gave their name to the town of Moffat in Dumfriesshire (pictured here).
In 1268, Nicholas de Moffet was Bishop of Glasgow, and the armorial bearings of the different branches of the family seemed to indicate a connection with the church. Robert the Bruce, as Lord of Annandale, granted four charters of land in the Barony of Westerkirk to the Moffats in 1300. One of these was to Adam Moffat of Knock who was granted ‘the same Barony in Eskdale'. Robert de Moffet and Thomas Moffet (both from Dumfriesshire) were large enough landowners to be required to pay homage to King Edward I and sign the Ragman Rolls in 1296. The Moffats, led by Adam Moffat of Knock, fought for King Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.Their units consisted of heavy cavalry, nobles adorned in plate armour and well equipped picketmen. They were lowlanders and had the resources to equip their men.
In 1336 the king of England granted a safe conduct to William de Moffet and others described as ‘coming as ambassadors from David de Brus’(i.e King David II, son of Robert the Bruce). In 1337, Walter de Moffet, Archdeacon of Lothian, was appointed Scottish ambassador to France.
The Moffats remained the Lairds of Knock until 1609, when the land was sold to the Johnstones. They were also tenants of Midknock for six hundred years, until 1905.
The Clan Moffat had a long feud with the Clan Johnstone who were another Scottish border clan who were raiders and reivers, and conducted long-running feuds with their neighbours. The feud climaxed in 1557 with the murder of the Clan Moffat chief, Robert Moffat. The Clan Johnstone then went on to burn the church with the most important members of the Moffat family inside and slaughtered anyone who tried to escape. In one blow the powerful Clan Moffat was almost wiped out. Seventy years later all of the Moffats' lands were passed to the Johnstones due to the Moffats having massive debts.
From at least the mid sixteenth century the clan was without a chief. Then in 1983, after many years of research, Francis Moffat was granted the undifferenced Arms of Moffat of that Ilk, and recognised as the hereditary chief of the clan by Lord Lyon King of Arms. In April 1992, the chieftainship passed to his daughter, Jean Moffat of that Ilk. That's the clan chief's arms illustrated here.
The Moffat clan motto is "Spero Meliora" which means "I hope for better things".
Alternative spellings of Moffat which can be found include Moffatt, Moffett, Meffatt, and Meffet.
There are Moffat clan Web sites here> and here>.
Members of the clan at the Gathering in Edinburgh in 2009.
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