Recorded in many forms including: Moat, Moatt, Mott, Motte and Mote this is an English and sometimes Scottish, surname. However spelt it originates from the pre 7th century Old English word "mote", meaning a moat, a wide channel constructed to act as a defensive fortification around a stronghold. The surname was either locational from one of the two places called Moat in the county of Dumfriess, Scotland, or judging by the many recordings, a more likely explanation was that it was topographical for somebody who was resident by such a fortification, of which there were many spread throughout the British Isles. Not surprisingly the surname is one of the first recorded, and early examples showing the surname development include: Richard Mote in the Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire in 1273; William de la Mote, in the Fines Court rolls of Essex in 1305; and Elena Mott in the Poll Tax returns of Yorkshire in 1379. Amongst the earliest settlers in the new American colonies was Adam Mott, a taylor, and his wife Sara, embarked from London on the ship "Defence" bound for New England in July 1635, whilst James Moat was recorded as being baxter in Dumfriess in 1714. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Basilia Motte. This was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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