Friday, 19 of January 2018


The Moffats are an ancient Border family who were influential and powerful as far back as the time of Sir William Wallace. The ancestors of the Moffats most likely gave their name to the town of Moffat in Dumfriesshire. The origin of the name itself is thought to be Norse. William de Monte Alto, progenitor of the Movats, married the youngest daughter of Andlaw, who came to Scotland from Norway during the 10th century. Over the years the name softened to Montealt, then Movat, through Movest, eventually settling at Moffat in its modern form.

In the 12th century the family was of sufficient importance to be deemed de Moffet, showing the family were considered to be principal Lairds or Landowners. Robert the Bruce, as Lord of Annandale, granted four charters of land to the Moffats in 1300. One of these was to Adam Moffat of Knock. Both he and his brother fought at Bannockburn in 1314, along with many Moffat clansmen. They remained the Lairds of Knock until 1609 when the land was sold to the Johnstones.

There have been many influential churchmen in the Moffat family. In 1337, Walter de Moffet, Archdeacon of Lothian, was appointed Ambassador to France and as early as 1268 Nicholas de Moffet was Bishop of Glasgow. Later, the Reverend Robert Moffat was patriarch of African missions.

The Moffats like many other Border families were raiders and reivers, and had many feuds with other clans. Their most notable enemies were the powerful Johnstones. In 1557 the Johnstones murdered Robert Moffat, possibly then the clan chief, and burned a building in which a number of leading Moffats had gathered. They slaughtered all those that tried to escape. From that date the Moffats were considered to be a leaderless clan, until 1983, when the late Francis Moffat was recognised as hereditary Clan Chief by the Lord Lyon. On his death in 1992 he was succeeded by his daughter, Madam Jean Moffat of that Ilk.

The arms of the Chief are a variation on the Bruce arms post 1190 – Sable, a Saltire and Chief Argent. There is a variation of the Bruce arms which were borne by Thomas Moffat of Wauchope who fought with Wallace and Bruce and undifferenced arms were borne by Alexander Moffat of Lochurr (1648-1731).

All Moffats have the motto “Spero Meliora” (I hope for better things).

Further sources of information on the history of the Moffats are:

•The Moffats by Major Francis Moffat of that Ilk, 1987, published by Phillimore & Co. Ltd.
•A Short History of the Family of Moffat of that Ilk by Robert Maxwell Moffat, MD, 1908. Copies of this book are very rare and in private hands except for one copy at the Ewart Library in Dumfries.

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