Show ContentsMoats History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Moats is an ancient Norman name that arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Moats family lived in Essex. The name, however, descends from the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, Mott a town in Cotes du Nord, Normandy. 1

Early Origins of the Moats family

The surname Moats was first found in Essex, where the family held a family seat from very early times, having been granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D. Moate (Irish: An Móta) is a town in County Westmeath, Ireland. In this case the town's name was derived from the term "motte-and-bailey," an early Norman fortification with a wooden or stone keep. The Norman earthwork is still visible behind the buildings on the main street.

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 listed a wide range of spellings throughout ancient England: Motte (without surname), Buckinghamshire; William Moth, Norfolk; Basilia Motte, Cambridgeshire; and Richard Mote, Oxfordshire. 2

"In the 13th century, Motte, sometimes written Mot, was a common Cambridgeshire name, but it also occurred then in Essex, Hunts, Kent, Bucks, and Oxfordshire." 3

However, Yorkshire proved to be a stronghold for the family for many years: "The Motts have found a home in this county for at least 600 years. In the 13th century the name of Motte occurred in Bradfield in this county. From the 14th to the 17th century there resided a notable gentle family of Mott at Shalford; some of the members lived at Braintree, in the same neighbourhood, in the 16th and 17th centuries; Sherne Hall, Shalford, was in the possession of the family in the 17th century." 3

Early History of the Moats family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Moats research. Another 152 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1379, 1583, 1588, 1686, 1693, 1710 and 1738 are included under the topic Early Moats History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Moats Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Mott, Motte, Mote, De Mott, De Motte, Demott and others.

Early Notables of the Moats family

Another 35 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Moats Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Moats Ranking

In the United States, the name Moats is the 5,736th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. 4

United States Moats migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Moats or a variant listed above:

Moats Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Jonas Moats, who arrived in Virginia in 1703 5
  • Bemherd Moats, aged 46, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1738 5
Moats Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • William H. Moats, aged 30, who landed in America, in 1908
  • Leone B. Moats, aged 26, who immigrated to the United States, in 1909
  • Alice Leone Moats, aged 1, who settled in America, in 1909
  • Alice Leone Moats, aged 5, who immigrated to the United States, in 1913
  • Benjamin F. Moats, aged 48, who landed in America, in 1913
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Moats (post 1700) +

  • David Allen Moats, former American Major League Baseball outfielder
  • Alice-Leone Moats (1908-1989), American journalist and author
  • Lieutenant General Sanford Kenneth Moats (b. 1921), American Air Force lieutenant general and fighter ace
  • Arthur 'DaBody' Moats (b. 1988), American football linebacker
  • Ryan Moats (b. 1982), American football running back
  • Sanford K. Moats, American fighter pilot and flying ace in the U.S. Army Air Forces, during World War II, credited with 8½ aerial victories

  1. Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  2. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  4. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  5. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8) on Facebook