Betty Mouat

Other names: 
Elizabeth Mouat
Born 1825, died 6 February 1918

Born in Levenwick, Shetland, Betty Mouat was the daughter of Margaret Harper, and Thomas Mouat, shoemaker and fisherman. She became famous for her lone drift to Norway on a sailing boat, Columbine, in January 1886. The event happened when Betty set off on a boat to Lerwick to sell knitted shawls. A heavy swell swept the skipper and his crew overboard, leaving Betty to drift alone. With only a bottle of milk and two biscuits for sustenance, she survived for eight days and nine nights before the boat ran aground off the Norwegian coast and was hauled ashore by local fishermen.
When the news came from √Ölesund that Betty Mouat was alive, it was seen as a miracle, and she got a great welcome when she returned, first in Edinburgh, where she rested for three weeks with relatives, and then in Lerwick when she arrived on the St Clair in late March.
Subscription lists were opened for Betty, and a notable donation was £20 from Queen Victoria with a letter of praise and sympathy.
Seven men were involved in the rescue; six received an inscribed silver medal and ¬£2 from HM Queen Victoria and the British Government as well as the sharing of a ¬£10 reward which was put up by John Bruce, the owner of the Columbine. The seventh man involved shunned the limelight and claimed no reward but his name does appear on the memorial in Leps√ły which was erected 100 years after the rescue by the local cultural history society.
Betty Mouat lived for another 32 years following her adventure, and died in Dunrossness, Shetland, when she was 93 years old.

The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women
Entry by Lynn Abrams