The Clan Moffat are a family from the Scottish Borders who were powerful and influential as far back as the time of William Wallace. It is likely that the ancestor of the Moffats gave their name to the town of Moffat in Dumfriesshire. The name Moffat may be of Norse origin.
William de Movat Alto, progenitor of the Movats, married the youngest daughter of Andlaw, who came from Norway to Scotland in the tenth century. Over the years the name became Montealt, then Movat, then Movest then eventually Moffat in its modern form. By the twelfth century the family were recorded as "de Moffet" which showed that they were considered to be principal lairds or land owners.
In 1300 the Moffats were granted four charters of land in the barony of Westerkirk from Robert the Bruce who was then Lord of Annandale. One of these charters was granted to Adam Moffat of Knock. He and his brother both fought at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, along with many of the Moffat clansmen during the Wars of Scottish Independence. In 1336 the king of England granted safe conduct to William de Moffete and others, described as coming as ambassadors to David de Brus (David II of Scotland). Walter de Moffat who was Archdeacon of Lothian was appointed ambassador to France in 1337.
Although there were Moffats in Moffat before 1300, their names are not known. In 1342 they were granted the feu of Granton and Reddings by Sir John Douglas, Lord of Annandale. These lands remained the principal holdings of the clan until they were passed over to the Johnstones because of overwhelming debt in 1628.
The Clan Moffat like most other Border clans were raiders and Border Reivers, and had many feuds with other clans. Their most notable enemies was the powerful Clan Johnstone. The Johnstones murdered Robert Moffat, who was possibly the clan chief, in 1557 and also burned a building in which a number of Moffats had gathered, slaughtering those who tried to escape. From that date the Clan Moffat was considered a leaderless clan until 1983 when the Lord Lyon King of Arms recognised Francis Moffat as chief after many years of research.
From at least the mid sixteenth century the clan was without a chief, until 1983 when 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 chiefship passed to his daughter, Jean Moffat of that Ilk.
The surname Moffat/Moffatt is a habitational name of Gaelic origin, derived from Moffat in Dumfriesshire. This place-name translated as "the long plain" was derived from two elements: magh ("plain") and fada ("long"). The area of Moffat does not resemble a "long plain" at all, so it is thought that "Moffat" was the locals' attempt at saying "Mowat" as the Mowats, Moffats, and Montaltos all share a common progenitor and at one time bore identical arms. (Major Francis Moffat of that Ilk, "The Moffats")
The Moffat family tartan is a very modern tartan, created by Major Francis Moffat of that Ilk, after being recognised as the chief of the clan in 1983. The tartan is heavily based upon the Clan Douglas tartan. According to Major Francis Moffat of that Ilk, in his book, "The Moffats," the colors he selected for the modern tartan (black, silver, and a very small amount of red) were taken from the most ancient arms coats associated with the Moffats, a black rampant lion on a silver field, with red teeth and claws.
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