This surname recorded as Moffatt, Muffett, and Moffett, usually originates from the town of Moffat in Annandale, in the former county of Dumfriesshire, Scotland. If so the derivation is from the Gaelic 'magh', meaning a field or plain, and 'fada', translating as 'long', - the long field. A number of the early surname holders seem to have had a close relationship with the church. These recordings include Walter de Moffat, the bishop of Glasgow in 1268, and another Walter de Moffat, who was Archdeacon of Lothian in 1348. However Robert de Muffett of Dumfries, a landowner and knight pledged allegiance to the Scottish Government in 1296. Despite the church influence, the 'Moffatt' clan as a whole were more usually known for their prominent membership of the 'Border Reivers'. This 'Gathering of the Clans' raided the north of England for over three centuries. Even as late as the Elizabethan period, their raiding parties took them as far south as York. In 1587, it was recorded (in Scotland) that the 'Moffettis of the West Marche' were among the 'unruly border clans', whose activities were 'to be curbed'. The name is first recorded in London church registers in 1569 when Joane Muffett was married at the church of St Thomas the Apostle. It is possible that some name holders may have descent from the unusual Yorkshire surname 'Muff, meaning 'the brother in law', in which case 'Muffett', Muff plus a short form of the French 'petit' meaning 'little' is a diminutive. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Nicholas de Mufet, which was dated circa 1230, a charter witness in the city of Glasgow, during the reign of King Alexander 11 of Scotland, 1214 - 1249. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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