Recorded in several spellings including Mouat, Mouatt, Muat, Mowat, Mowatt, and Mowett, but originally Montealto, this is an Anglo-Scottish surname of French origins. Introduced into the British Isles by followers of William the Conqueror in 1066, it is locational from a village called 'Mont Haut', of which there are several examples in France. It is said that the original nameholders were granted lands on the Welsh-English border near the town of Mold in Flintshire, but the first recognizable hereditary recordings are in Scotland, see below, with Yorkshire a close second. In that respect Robert de Muhaut was registered in the rolls of the abbey of Reivaulx, in North Yorkshire in 1250 a.d. In Scotland they were granted lands in Angus, including the lordship of the manor of Ferne, whilst Michael de Monte Alto was sheriff of Inverness in 1234, and William de Monte Alto, sheriff of Cromarty in 1263. In 1289 William de Muhart was a signatory of a letter to King Edward 1st of England, whilst in 1305 Bernhard de Mohaut was sentenced by the same king to be 'hung, drawn, and quartered' for murdering the kings valet! The Mowat(t)s were settled in Ayrshire by the year 1450, and examples of the recordings include Mathew Mowatt, who was christened at Kilmarnock, on October 13th 1659, Margaret Mowat christened at Ayr on January 1st 1671, and Heugh Muat who was a witness at Kilmarnock on September 29th 1684. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Montealto, which was dated 1130, an attendant at the royal court in Edinburgh, during the reign of King David 1st of Scotland, 1124 - 1139. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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