The name Mott is of Anglo-Saxon origin, it does appear in early Scottish records as well; however, it is believed the name migrated from England. It is derived from the medieval English word, “mote” or moat which was a channel, which may or may not have been filled with water, that was built around a castle or manor to increase defense. I this context it would be considered topographical as it was probably used to describe someone who lived near the fortress.
Surnames in Britain prior to the Norman conquest were largely unheard of. In the small settlements and villages which existed during earlier times, residents found little need for surnames as everyone in these communities new each other and a given name would usually suffice. However, with the passage of time, population growth and expansions of communities as villages gave way to towns and cities, it became necessary to add a qualifier to a people's names to distinguish them, one from another. Therefore one person may have been identified by their given name plus their occupation while another may have been identified by their given name and one of their parent's names. The introduction of surnames by the Norman aristocracy after the invasion seemed to be the next logical step in this evolution. There was a boundless supply from which surnames could be formed, in addition to the use of patriarchal/matriarchal names or reference to the individuals occupation, there were things such as defining physical traits, a familiar geographical location or a topographical landmark found near the individuals home or birthplace, the name of the village in which the person lived, and so much more. Soon, surnames would come not just to represent an individual but whole families.
There often exists variations in spelling of many surnames, as with many given names which date back to the early centuries. The variation in spelling of both given and surnames during this time period can be attributed to a lack of continuity regarding guidelines for spelling which was compounded by the diversity of languages in use in European countries at this time. The variations in the spelling of the surname Mott include but not limited to; Mott; Moat; Moatt; Demott; De Motte; Motte; Mote; and De Mott among others.
The earliest record of any variation of this surname is that of Basilia Motte which appears in the Cambridgeshire tax rolls from 1273. These rolls, were a series of census and tax records
kept by the English Treasury by order of King Edward I, with the oldest dating back to the 12th century. They hold the distinction of being the oldest consecutive set of records detailing English governance in the United Kingdom. These records span a period of over 700 years and have proven invaluable to researches over the years. Additional tax rolls show records of Richard Mote from Oxfordshire in 1273, William de la Mote from Essex in 1305 and Elena Mott from Yorkshire in 1379.
The first recorded immigrant to America bearing the surname or any variation of the spelling was John Mott, Sr. who arrived in 1621 and settled in Virginia. Adam and Sarah Mott along with their children landed and settled in Boston, Massachusetts in 1635 and Francis Mott arrived and settled in Virginia in 1653.
There were also many immigrants to the British Common Wealth countries of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand bearing the surname Mott. Samuel Mott landed in 1760 and settled in Nova Scotia, Canada and John and Abigal Mott arrived in 1840 and settled in New Brunswick, Canada. Joseph and Mary Mott along with their children arrived in 1784 and settled in Adelaid, Australia. John and Marianne Mott along with their children arrived in 1873 and settled in Wellington, New Zealand.
Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Mott are found in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand. By state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Mott live in Massachusetts.
There are many persons of note who bear the surname Mott. Sir Nevill Francis Mott was born in Leeds, England. He was a scientist an physicist. He attended Clifton College where he was enrolled at the age of ten from there he went on to St. John's College at Cambridge. Mott went on to lecture and teach in the Physics Departments at several colleges and universities in England. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1936, he was knighted in 1962, and in 1977, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics along with John Van Vleck and Phillip Anderson.