Surname of the Month - Mouat

Published: 18th May 2015

Launch voted a huge success

Saturday the 9th May, 2015 saw the launch of the latest in the series of Surname of the Month events organise by the Society. Those in attendance pour over the vast archive of material on show. Those in attendance pour over the vast archive of material on show.

Delting Boating Club was the venue for this informal “in aboot da efternoon” gathering to share stories from the different branches of the Mouat family in Shetland. And that was certainly achieved!

During research throughout the winter months at the Hillhead, Lerwick so much has been learnt about this Shetland family name. There were Mouats from Dunrossness to Denver, Gardie to Govan and Norwick to New Zealand. They were bakers, a lumber baron, gold diggers and preachers. We see tenants, Lairds, Portioners, a Moad outwitting the Pressgang and the richest heiress in Norway – Karen Mouat, b.abt 1630 d.1675, owned the Barony of Rosendal just outside Bergen. It is now used and cherished by the University of Oslo. This was all due to her seafaring family trading with Scotland and Norway.

A visit to the Archives allowed the researches to understand how Shetlanders lived their day to day lives in Shetland and to access further documents. Gaining further insights into social history from the Shetland books and census records in our own library at the Hillhead.

The Mouat folders, now built up to 35 plus, that have been compiled will be an ongoing project, accessible to members at the Hillhead as the Society volunteers gather more information in the future.

Our thanks go to the Delting Boating Club Committee for the use of their excellent venue. Secondly, a big thank you to all who came with their family trees and information to share. Finally, we are happy to help to piece together any Shetland family tree jigsaws that you are puzzling over. Contact the Secretary here.

Origin of Mouat Mouat clan plauqe, moto Monte Alto (On a high mountain). Mouat clan plauqe, moto Monte Alto (On a high mountain).

Most families of Mouat derive the surname from a place-name in Normandy - Monte Alto. There is at least one Shetland family where the surname is patronymic derived from the forename Matthew.

Mouat in Shetland

The first Mouats recorded in Shetland were landowners - Andrew Mouat in Hugoland, Northmavine is recorded in 1572. He was said to have come from Caithness. Whilst Mouat is the usual spelling in Shetland the name is recorded in other forms - Mowat, Mode, Moad etc. This is especially true of families leaving Shetland, where the Shetlandic dialect obviously has had an influence.


In 1881 there were 443 people recorded in Shetland with the surname Mouat/Mowat being 1.3% of the population.

Notable Mouats

Betty Mouat 1825-1918. Famous for being cast away in the smack Columbine in 1886. The skipper fell overboard and the crew went to his rescue leaving Betty alone. The vessel drifted to Norway where she was saved by men from the island of Lepsøy.

Mouat of Garth. For many generations the family owned considerable lands in Delting, Northmavine, Unst and Bressay.

Publications Available

Drifting Alone to Norway by T.M.Y. Manson

Sons and Daughters of Shetland by Margaret S. Robertson

Zetland County Families and Zetland Family Histories both by Francis J. Grant

GARDIE   A Shetland house and its people by Wendy Scott

A Kist of Emigrants by J. Laughton Johnson