MOFFAT Database – Clan MOFFAT UK
The genealogical database of the Clan Moffat UK is an attempt to assemble genealogical data regarding bearers of the name “Moffat” and all its variants, but limited geographically to the UK and Eire. The central idea is that if a researcher can identify an ancestor bearing the name “Moffat”, alive in the UK or Eire in the early twentieth century, then the ancestry of that person will be made available as far back as written records permit.
This database is offered to the world Internet public as a separate branch of the World-Wide Moffat Database maintained by the Clan Moffat Society (North America). This co-operation is welcomed in that it provides a single source for the maximum amount of Moffat information. The separation of databases allows the Database of the Clan Moffat, UK, to be maintained as a distinct entity. Some UK Moffats will thus appear twice, once in each database – but that is a factor of which researchers should be aware.
The underlying foundation of the database of Clan Moffat, UK, is the 1881 UK census as indexed and published on CD by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This provides a (very nearly) complete list of all persons bearing the name “Moffat” and its variants in 1881, in which each person appears once only (with very rare exceptions). They also appear within the contexts of their immediate families, together with their gender, age, relationship to the head of the family, address, occupation, place of birth and occasional medical disability. All these have been noted in the database.
People who figure as main-line entries in the database are: Males who are born with the name “MOFFAT”, or variant, or a few who adopt it later. All males who marry a Moffat woman. All females born as “MOFFAT”. All females who marry a MOFFAT male. Excluded are the parents of women who marry a MOFFAT, and the children of MOFFAT women who marry a non-MOFFAT. There are just a couple of exceptions where near family relations marry, and it is helpful to show the exact relationship. In general, the database is restricted to Moffats born in the UK or Eire, although there is one exception in the family of Robert Moffat, the African missionary.
This is in distinction to the USA database, in which collateral branches are included, i.e. ancestors of men or women who marry a Moffat, as well as descendents of Moffat women who marry.
Thereafter it is our aspiration to include corresponding data for the UK Censuses for 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1891 and 1901. For this data, we are using personal sight of the English and Welsh data at the National Archives, Kew, the Family Record Centre (FRC), London and the Scottish data at the General Record Office (GRO), Edinburgh. Supplementing this has been my paid-up subscription to “ancestry.com”. Whilst comprehensive and enormously valuable, it would still be fair to state that the transcribers are not fully conversant with nineteenth century styles of hand-writing, and have not given sufficient attention to avoiding silly errors. But, perhaps my capability to cross-check family data over several censuses gives me an unfair advantage. Future aspirations will include the censuses of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, the Irish Censuses of 1901 and 1911, and the UK Census of 1911 when available, and accessible without excessive cost.
By drawing reasonable inferences, the census provides birth data to the nearest year, marriage data to the nearest couple of years, and death data within a decade. For English and Welsh births, marriages and deaths we have used personal visits to FRC, and increasingly, the web-site of “freebmd”. The FRC involved searching quarterly volumes of heavy tomes, but with all data from 1837 through 2005, whereas “freebmd” has most data through 1914, with the exceptional advantage that the maiden name of a Moffat spouse can be most often inferred. This provides BMD data to the nearest quarter year. (Individual certificates are available at the FRC, but at a cost which is prohibitive in any quantity). In a number of cases, important BMD data, to the precise date, has been noted during personal visits to the GRO, Edinburgh. (The GRO web-site of “scotlandspeople” is excellent, but exorbitantly expensive when used in quantity.)
Dates of birth, baptism and marriage have been used where possible from the International Genealogical Index (IGI) built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This has been used to provide accurate dates, and is acknowledged by “IGI”. It has also been used to deduce the maiden names of married women, especially in Scotland. The data provided by IGI is very welcome, but it is important to realise that it is second-hand data, incomplete, and transcribed by devotees of the Church as community service, and not subject to critical checking as to its accuracy.
Other data in the database derives form the members themselves of Clan Moffat UK. This is acknowledged by the denotation Mnnn, where nnn is their numerical membership number of Clan Moffat UK. Since this data was provided in confidence, the key to membership numbers is available to members only via the Clan Directory.
Yet more data derives from articles published in the Clan Moffat UK Newsletter, 2001 - . This is acknowledged by CMN, issue, page number.
Other sources of data are from published material. A special debt of gratitude is acknowledged to the following works:
FMotI: Moffat, Francis of that Ilk, 1987, The Moffats, Phillimore, Chichester, Sussex. (Primary source for the family of Moffat of that Ilk, and Robert Moffat (1795-1883), African Missionary.)
Other works have been consulted, especially compendia of inscriptions in graveyards. Usually only a couple of gravestones are relevant. These works are acknowledged as appropriate.
As time permits, I hope to tap into other sources of data that are freely available: E.g. The National Burial Index; Probate Records; the Commonwealth War-Graves Commission, and possibly others. I look forward to a time when Parish Records become more freely available, and better indexed.
CONVENTIONS within the Database.
Capitalisation: All surnames within the UK Database are capitalised (e.g. MOFFAT), whereas most surnames within the USA Database are of mixed case (e.g. Moffat). This provides a quick visual differentiation between the two databases.
Surnames only: In cases where en entry consists of only a surname, there is an inference that such a person existed, but nothing further is known about them. This can happen when several siblings are known, but nothing of their parents. Alternatively, the married name of a Moffat woman is known, but nothing of her husband from whom she took the name.
Children born out of wedlock. There are many cases of a young child appearing in a census entry as the grandchild of the head of a family, and bearing his name. It is then difficult to know which of several possible unmarried daughters is the mother. I have usually selected “the most probable”, but noted that parentage is unclear. I will correct the entry if a relevant birth certificate comes to light.
Married Women: Where a woman marries a Moffat man, but her maiden name is unknown, I have entered her in her married name within parentheses. E.g. John MOFFAT and Helen (MOFFAT). This will be corrected to her maiden name if and when this becomes known.
MOFFAT, MOFFATT, MOFFITT, etc, etc. These names are varied capriciously, especially in England and Ireland, throughout the 19th century. There is no valid reason to document each progressive vagary. I have used the spelling favoured by the present family (if I know it). Otherwise I use MOFFAT in Scotland, and MOFFATT in England.
Dates of Birth: These are accurate to the day if a birth certificate has been seen by someone, or if given as such by the IGI. If the IGI gives a date of baptism, the database will allocate the same year for the birth. If the birth is inferred from the FRC Index, it will be given as the relevant quarter (March, June, September or December). If a birth is inferred from a census, it will be calculated by subtracting the age given from the year of the census (e.g. someone aged 25 in 1881 will be noted as born in 1856 – i.e. 1881 – 25 = 1856, whereas the true range will be some date between 5.4.1855 and 4.4.1856). There are cases where the name of a parent of a person is known, but nothing at all regarding the parents’ ages. In such a case, I assume that a father is 25 at the birth, and the mother 22. Thus, for a person born in 1840, the father will be noted as born in “ca 1815”, and the mother “ca 1818”. If a person was born in Glasgow, then the parents will be assumed to be born in “of, Glasgow”. This also applies to dates and places of birth in the 1841 census, which were not noted exactly. This is subject to correction if more information is forthcoming. The reason for this approximation, is to be able to eliminate such people from searches for which their presence would be wholly inappropriate.
Date of Marriage: With nothing else on which to go, a marriage is assumed to be ca 1 year before the birth of the eldest known child.
Date of death: If unknown, this is usually left blank. The reason that a person is missing from a census can be that they have emigrated. Or that a woman marries and is present in another, as yet unknown, name. In cases where a death can reasonably be inferred, I have used a point half way between their last appearance, and the point at which they are known to be deceased. E.g. a husband alive in 1881, with a youngest child born in 1885, but with his wife noted as a widow in 1891, will be given a death date of “ca 1888”.
Disabilities: I have rendered “Blind” and “Deaf” as “Suffered from blindness” or “deafness” respectively. However, even my sensibilities cannot stomach the Victorian denotation of “Lunatic” and “Imbecile”, and I have rendered them as “Suffered from mental illness” and “learning difficulties” respectively.
CORRECTIONS: Our aspiration is that this database will be as accurate as possible within the confines of the information available. We are constrained by time, data volume, and limited financial resources. If you the User, whether family descendent or researcher, are aware of errors or deficiencies in this database, you are urged to use the “SUGGEST” facility in order to e-mail with a correction. In the sprit of the database, it will ideally be accompanied by a statement of the source of your knowledge (e.g. Birth Certificate, IGI entry, etc – so that the data can ultimately be checked or verified, and providing a feeling for its level of reliability). It is hoped to update the Database on a monthly basis, incorporating all corrections received during the previous month.
Colin Irvine Moffat,
Genealogist, Clan Moffat UK