Moffat Surname Genealogy

Moffat is a name of the Scottish borders where there is a
small town called
Moffat in Annandale in the Scottish borders.  The origin of the Moffat name is thought
to have been an Anglo
Norman family, originally Montealt and then Movat, that was first
sighted in
Scotland in the late 11th century.  They
became de Moffets.
Moffat comes in
various spellings.
  Moffat and Moffatt are the usual
spellings in the UK. Moffat has been the form most
widely found in Scotland.  But Moffatt has outnumbered Moffat in
England.  Moffett and Moffitt are the more common forms in

Moffat Resources on

Moffat Ancestry

ScotlandThe early Moffats in Annandale seemed to have
had a close relationship with the church
as they included
de Moffat, the
Bishop of
Glasgow in
1268, and Walter de Moffat
, the
Archdeacon of Lothian in 1348.
   Robert de Moffethe was
treasurer of the church of Glasgow in 1467.

These Moffats may have been in a Christian
minority of three because the Moffat clan
was more normally
associated with the
lawless Border reivers that operated along
the English/Scottish border. 
In 1587
recorded that the “Moffettis of the West Marche” were included among
“the unruly border clans” whose activities “were to be curbed

However, they were a spent force by that
time.  Their
most notable enemy
was the powerful
Johnstone clan.
In 1557 t
Johnstones murdered
clan chief Robert
building in which a
number of Moffats had gathered, slaughtering those who tried to escape.
that date the
Moffats were a leaderless

One Moffat family dates from Adam
Moffat of Knock who fought at the Battle of
Bannockburn in 1314
.  His
the Lairds of Knock until 1609
when their land had to be sold to
the Johnstones
because of rising indebtedness.  They were
until 1905.  In 1759 the Moffats from
Gardenholm in Annandale moved to Craigbeck in what is today Moffatdale.  The Moffats at Craigbeck had by
the 20th century become
one of
the biggest
sheep farmers in southern Scotland. 

England.  The border
pacifications in the 17th century led to many led to some
Moffat migrations south of the border into England to Cumberland,
and Northumberland. 
Moffat name cropped up frequently in
village of Kirklinton
in Cumberland.

Some Moffatts became miners.  John
Moffatt, for instance, was a lead miner in Stanhope, Durham in the
early 19th
century.  Later Moffatts of this family
emigrated to New Zealand.  James Moffatt
after a pit explosion in the Workington mines in 1888.
Frederick Moffatt wrote up an account of the
Northumberland mining industry in the 19th century.

Ireland.  The Moffats in Ireland are of Scottish origin.  Often the name changed in their new home.  Moffat predominated in Antrim.
But Moffatt, Moffett, and Moffitt were to be
found elsewhere in Ulster Ireland.

Donegal Moffitts were descendants of three brothers – Robert, Adam, and
– who came sometime in the 1730’s.
Robert and Adam Moffitt were recorded as leasing land at
Ballymore in Clondahorky
parish some thirty years later.  Moffitt
descendants are still to be found there.

America.  Many of the Moffats (or
names) who came to America were Scots Irish.

Moffat had fled Scotland to county Antrim in Ireland after the Battle
Bothwell Bridge in 1679.  His sons
William and Samuel embarked for America in 1710 and settled first in
New Jersey
and then in Ulster county, New York.
This genealogy was traced in Burnham Moffatt’s 1909 book Moffat Genealogies.  A later Samuel Moffat started a
trading post at Blooming Grove in 1811.  His son David headed west
and made a fortune in railroads in Colorado.  Moffat county in
Colorado was named after him.

Moffett family in Virginia dates from the 1780’s and were
of John and Elizabeth Moffett of Virginia
(who were probably
Scots Irish in origin).  They were later to be found
Shelby and Anderson
, Kentucky.

William Moffitt came from county Donegal in the 1760’s, fought in the
Revolutionary War and settled in Randolph county, North Carolina.
His descendants headed west, first to Indiana, then to Minnesota and
Montana, and finally to Los Angeles – which was where the baseball
pitcher Randy Moffitt and his elder sister the tennis great Billie Jean
King (nee Moffitt) were born.

Moffett meanwhile came to America from county Armagh in 1785 and was a
merchant there.  Later Moffetts from the
line of Samuel Moffett, who arrived in 1803, were to be found in
Tennessee.  The family was traced in
Linden Moffett’s 1919 book Descendants of
Henry and Jane Moffett

Moffett arrived in Philadelphia from Ireland sometime in the 1820’s.  His son Corporal
Theodore Moffett
was grievously wounded at the Battle of
Gettysburg in 1863
but survived another thirty six years. 

Alexander Moffat from East Lothian came out to Ontario in the
1830’s and
was an early settler at Pembroke in Renfrew county.
His stone house is still standing there.  He
built a grist mill on the Muskrat river
and laid out the town.  His descendants migrated west to British Columbia.

Africa.  Robert Moffat

came out to South Africa
as a Christian missionary a few years before the 1820 settlers arrived
there.  In 1824 he and his wife Mary moved
onto Kuruman in the northernmost outpost where he was to remain for
years.  His son John followed him in his
missionary work, his daughter Mary married the explorer David

Moffat Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Moffat Names

Nicholas de Moffat was Bishop of
Glasgow in 1268.
patriarch of
the Christian missions in South
during the 19th century.  His
daughter married
the explorer David
John Moffat was a
Scottish-born entrepreneur who in the late 19th century developed
a mining and
industrial empire
in northern Queensland which
drove the
development of northeas
t Australia.
Alistair Moffat has been the
organizer of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival held every year in August.

Select Moffats Today

  • 15,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Dumfries and Galloway)
  • 9,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 13,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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