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Mouat Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: MONTE ALTO (on a high mountain)

This is a name of Norman origin, originally Mont Hault, rendered in Latin as Monte Alto, and can be translated as ‘of the high mountain’. According to twentieth century authority on Scottish surnames, George Black, the Monte Altos settled in Wales. They first appeared in Scotland during the reign of David II and later gained lands in Angus, the Lordship of Fern. Robert and Michaele de Muheut witnessed a charter by the Comyn Earl of Buchan, around 1210. Bernard de Monte Alto, a soldier, was among the knights and nobles who accompanied Princess Margaret to Norway for her marriage to that country’s King. On their return he, along with many others, was drowned in a shipwreck. William de Monte Alto was later one of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence at Arbroath in 1320.

A group of Monte Altos were granted the lands of Loscraigie and Freswick, in modern day Aberdeenshire and by the fifteenth century their name had been corrupted to Mowat. During the sixteenth century they changed their territorial designation to that of Ballquholly. Patrick Mowat of that Ilk fought with the Earl of Erroll against the English at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547. Another branch of the family became lawyers. Roger Mowat of Logie, and Dumbreck, accumulated wealth and lands from his lucrative legal practice. His son, George Mowat was a burgess of Edinburgh, and married Elizabeth Hope, daughter of the noted jurist Sir John Hope of Craighall. Shortly before his premature death in 1665, George Mowat was created a Baronet of Nova Scotia. The title appears to have become extinct by the early eighteenth century.

In 1645 Patrick Mowat was killed fighting for the royalist cause at the Battle of Alford. His son Magnus, succeeded at the age of fourteen. His tenure as Laird of Balquholly was brief, for in 1669 he sailed from Shetland to Norway and was murdered soon afterwards in mysterious circumstances. The premature death in childhood of the heir, William Mowat, coincided with the ‘seven ill years’ of economic depression, famine and rural depopulation. The Mowat lands were now bankrupt. The eventual heir, Patrick Mowat, failed to redeem the situation. Following his death in 1716 the castle and lands of Balquholly were seized by creditors. His son, John Mowat, was the last member of the family to style themselves ‘of Balquholly’ and as Monte Alto of that Ilk.

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Family Crest Motto: MONTE ALTO
(on a high mountain)

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