Morris Surname Genealogy
Morris derived in England from the personal name Maurice which was
to Britain by the Normans. Maurice, the name of some early
saints, was the learned spelling of the name, Morice its more common
in Wales with the Welsh personal name Meurig (with a hard
ending) or with
(a Welsh prince of the 12th
century) sometime during the 15th century.
is different. It came from the Spanish moresca
dance from the Moors, first brought to the English court in the 16th
century. However, it is possible that the
could sometimes have been a nickname, from Moorish to describe someone
Morris Resources on
- Morris Family Association. Morris family
- Morris Families of Cheshire
Morris in Cheshire.
- The Morris Branch. US Morris genealogy.
England. Nicholas Morris was recorded as
the Abbot of Waltham Abbey in Essex from 1371 to 1390.
The Morice name applied to a family from
Royden in Essex in the early 1500’s at the court of Henry VII. Another family of that name at Werrington in
Devon had Welsh ancestry.
West of England.
Morris became a common
name in the English border counties. The town that is said
to have the most Morrises per square mile is Bishop’s Town, just by the
of Wales in Shropshire. Overwhelmingly they are likely to be
One of the earliest records of the name there (reflecting the Welsh
influence) was a Hugo Morys, son of Maurice ap Phelip, in the 1450
rolls. In the 1720’s Robert Morris
moved from Shropshire to Wales to help start a copper works in
His son John built an industrial village for his workers called
still exists today.
A Morris family of Clifford Chambers and
Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire dated from the 1540’s. Later
were contemporary with Shakespeare
at Stratford. The family remained there in succeeding centuries,
although Samuel Morris of this family emigrated
to South Carolina in the 1780’s.
The main numbers of Morrises in England seem to have been in a line
running north from Shropshire into Lancashire. The name has also
up on the Isle of Wight in southern England.
Wales. Many of
the early Morrises were from
north Wales, such as the Morris family of Llanfihangel Tre’r Beirdd in
and the brothers Edward and Hugh Morris, the 17th century Welsh bards
of Morris ap Edward from Perthi LLwydion in Denbighshire.
Some in Caernarvonshire who took English
surnames initially adopted the more formal Maurice name.
Sir William Maurice of Clenennau, a member of
an old Caernarvon family, was the son of Moris ap Elise.
The line from Morus ap Griffydd of Aberdaron
went to Henry Maurice, the minister who transformed himself from
to Dissenting preacher in 1670.
The Morris family of Tintern in Monmouthshire was a
supporter of Parliament during the Civil War. After the
Restoration two Morris brothers
left for Barbados in
the Caribbean. The younger brother Richard later moved onto New
York with great
success. Another Morris found mixed
fortunes in St. Vincent. Colonel Valentine Morris returned from
Vincent in 1736 and bought the Piercefield estate near Chepstow.
Most Morrises are
to be found in south Wales today.
Ireland. Morris was one of the fourteen Trobes of Galway.
Richard Morris was
recorded as the town Bailiff in 1486. The Morris home was later
Spiddal and they became Barons Killanin in the 19th century.
Morris in Ireland was also an anglicized form
of the Gaelic O’Muirghis,
variants of which also produced the surname Morrissey.
Morris was a shipbuilder and a Puritan from London who had left England
other pilgrims on the Hector in
1637. It was said that two of his
forebears had been killed during the reign of Bloody Queen Mary for
give up their Protestant faith. He led a
party in 1638 to New Haven, Connecticut and a forested area where he
his shipbuilding. This area was known as
Morris Cove and now as Morristown.
Morris from Monmouthshire in Wales, a soldier in the English Civil War,
in York in 1670 and bought land in the
Bronx. This land was and is called Morrisania and the Morrises
important New York landowners. Their
sometime Governor of New Jersey and Chief Justice of New York
Gouverneur Morris, the man who drafted
much of the US Constitution.
brothers, Staats Long Morris, was a Loyalist.
A later line of these Morrises settled in South Carolina and
the Confederate side in the Civil War.
was the home of two notable Morris families:
began with Anthony Morris, a Quaker preacher of Welsh extraction who
was an early arrival from London in 1683. His
son Anthony was the mainstay of the Philadelphia Quaker
for forty years. Later Morrises were
merchants. From 1787 until the early
1900’s they lived at Morris House in the city (which now operates as
the other started with
Robert Morris, a tobacco factor from Liverpool who had moved to
Maryland in the
1740’s. His son Robert developed such a
profitable trading business in Philadelphia that he could help finance
American Revolutionary War.
sometimes adopted in America as a Jewish name.
The most well-known example is Zelman Moses who arrived with his
from Germany as a nine year old boy in 1882.
He went into business in New York as William Morris, Vaudeville
which is now the oldest entertainment talent agency in the
business. Meanwhile Joseph Morris started his
funeral business in Brooklyn in 1888.
Morris was an early English
name in Nova Scotia history. Charles
Morris from Boston came there as early as 1748 to help establish the
garrison. He remained as an
administrator and judge until his death in 1781. Son
Charles was Chief Surveyor for Nova
Scotia, as was his son and grandson.
Their home in Halifax, Morris House, has been preserved.
Alexander Morris from Paisley in Scotland
brought his family to Canada in 1801.
His sons William and James were merchants in Perth, Ontario and
held prominent positions in the Legislative Council of what was then
Canada. William’s son Alexander was
Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories from 1872
Caribbean. Samuel Morris,
thought to have come from Scotland, was an early settler in Jamaica,
there in the 1740’s. He was referred to
as Colonel Morris “of old St. James.” He
was a tavern keeper in Hanover parish.
John Ball Morris was a London merchant who held estates in Jamaica in
the early 1800’s. His son Mowbray, born
there, was editor of The Times from
1847 to 1873.
If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:
Select Morris Names
Robert Morris, a Philadelphia merchant, was one of the main financiers of the American Revolutionary War. William Morris was an artist and writer of the late 19th century, the founder of the English Arts and Crafts movement. William Morris, 1st Lord Nuffield, was a pioneer UK automobile manufacturer. William Morris, born Zelman Moses, was the founder of the William Morris talent agency in New York. Desmond Morris was a well-known British zoologist through his TV appearances. Jan Morris is the author and travel writer from Wales formerly known as James Morris.
Select Morrises Today
- 131,000 in the UK (most numerous
in West Midlands)
- 120,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
- 52,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)
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