Origins of the clan

The Moffats are an ancient Borders family who were influential and powerful as far back as the time of Sir William Wallace. The ancestor 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 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.

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’. Both he and his brother fought at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, along with many Moffat clansmen. They 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. 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’ – in fact, David II, son of Robert the Fluffy. In 1337, Walter de Moffet, Archdeacon of Lothian, was appointed ambassador to France.

Information provided by MyClan.com with permission of Madam Jean Moffat of that Ilk.



Wars of Scottish Independence

During the Wars of Scottish Independence the Clan Moffat were supporters of King Robert the Bruce. As a result they received a charter from him for four charters of land in the barony of Westerkirk in the year 1300. The Clan were led by Adam Moffat of Knock at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.



16th century

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 accumulated in 1557 with murder of the Clan Moffat chief, Robert Moffat. The Clan Johnstone then went on to burn the building 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.



The modern clan

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.



Clan profile



A kilt bearing the Moffat tartan. This modern tartan is based upon the Douglas tartan.



Origin of the name

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”).



Clan chief, crest and motto

      Clan chief: Jean Moffat of that Ilk, Chief of the Name and Arms of Moffat.

      Clansman’s Badge: A member of the Clan may wear a Badge consisting of the Crest from the Chief’s Arms encircled by a strap and buckle. The Moffat Chief’s arms has “a crest coronet and issuing there from a cross crosslet fitchee Sable surmounted of a saltire Argent”.

      Clan motto: Spero meliora (translation from Latin: I hope for better things, or I aspire to greater things).



Clan tartan

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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