Moon Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Moon Surname Meaning

The Moon surname in England seems to have been a corruption of the place-name Mohun near St. Lo in Normandy. William de Mohun came over with William the Conqueror in 1066 and was granted large estates in Somerset.  It has also been argued that the name, although brought over by the Normans, had Danish origins.  Mohun became Moone and then Moon. 

Moon from mun is a common Korean name.  The best-known Moon has been Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the Unification Church.  His followers are often called Moonies.

Moon Surname Resources on The Internet

Moon Surname Ancestry

  • from Southern England and Korea
  • to America, Canada and Australia

EnglandThe Norman de Mohun family was initially established at Dunster in Somerset.  They remained there until the last of their line died in 1376.  By that time the name had spread elsewhere in SW England.  The spellings were up to Elizabethan times, and in some cases beyond, Mohun and Moone.

SW England.  There was an early Moone or Moon line at Ash in Devon.  Thomas Moon, Sir Francis Drake’s best captain, was born in Bristol in 1520.

One line – that of Fleet House in Dorset – began at Ottery St. Mary in Devon in 1516 (and possibly there earlier) and prospered later in the 1500’s through Richard Moone and his son Robert.  

“When Richard Moone died around the year 1548, it was said that his younger son Robert suppressed evidence of a will while his elder son was abroad.  Whether a valid will existed or not, the two brothers fell out over the inheritance and their respective families took sides in the ensuing litigation which continued for several generations.”   

Inside the chancel of the old church at Fleet is a brass plaque commemorating the lives of Robert and Margaret Mohun.  Behind Robert are nine sons, behind Margaret eight daughters.

Moone burial records began at Liskeard in Cornwall in 1605.  The will of George Moone, brother of Theophilus, was recorded there in 1696.  John Moone or Moon married Elizabeth Rundle in 1700; while a later Theophilus Moon married Honour Hawkey in 1754.

There may have been Moon history in SW England. But there have been more Moon numbers elsewhere, primarily in Lancashire and SE England.

Lancashire.  The Moon name in Lancashire has been concentrated around Preston and nearby places such as Eccleston and Chorley, although there were some departures from there to America:

  • a Moon family had made their home in this area at Woodplumpton in the 1570’s.  A century or so later John Moon was persecuted for his Quaker faith and left for Penn’s Pennsylvania in the 1680’s.  
  • then Henry Moon of Eccleston – who could trace his ancestry there back eleven generations to Robert Moon who was born in 1610 – converted to Mormonism in 1837.  Three years later he departed for Nauvoo with thirteen of his family and relatives.  Henry’s home – the Horse Stone estate which had been in his family for generations – was sold.

There were still 59 Moons recorded in the village of Eccleston in the 1881 census. 

SE England.  Moon was also a name of the Kent and Sussex Weald.

The earliest reference appears to have been a John Peter Moon who was born in Rotherfield, Sussex in the 1540’s. There were Moons in Rotherfield and nearby Westfield in the 18th and 19th centuries.  A Moon family in Rye, Sussex in the mid-1700’s were the forebears of William and Henry Moon who emigrated to Australia in 1838 and 1839 respectively.

Moons were to be found in Folkestone, Kent in the early 1800’s. William Moon who created Moon type, the first widely used practical reading alphabet for the blind, was born in Horsmonden, Kent in 1818.  Keith Moon, the drummer with The Who, had Kentish forebears.

Ireland.  Moon in Ireland could be an anglicized form of the Gaelic O’Mochain found in Connacht and Ulster. However, this usually became Mohan.  Donovan Hurst did compile a pamphlet, Moon Surname – Ireland, of Moons who lived in Ireland between the 1600’s and 1900’s.

AmericaThere were Moon arrivals into Virginia and Pennsylvania.  Moons migrated to Georgia as early as 1770. 

Virginia.  Moons appeared at an early time at the Jamestown colony.  It is thought that Nicholas and Churchill Moon were in Jamestown possibly by 1607.  However, they did not stay.

Captain John Moon from Alverstone in Hampshire, who had been plying ships between England and Virginia between 1606 and 1619, settled in Virginia in 1623. He married twice, but left no sons on his death in 1655.  His family line continued through his brother Abraham who had come to Virginia in 1638. Many think that these Moons were grandsons of Drake’s Captain Thomas Moon.

There was another Virginia Moon family, probably related, that began with Stephen Moon who was born in New Kent county around the year 1660.  This line extended in the early 1800’s to Edward Moon, a wealthy merchant who owned the 1,500 acre Viewmont tobacco plantation near Scottsville.  Edward had four remarkable daughters for his time – Orie who became a doctor, Sallie a teacher, and Lottie and Edmonia famous Baptist missionaries in China.

PennsylvaniaJames Moon was a Quaker from Bristol who came with his wife Joan and six children to Fallsington, Bucks county in 1682.  One of his sons Jasper moved onto Virginia and North Carolina.  Another son Roger lived in the same place for nigh on seventy years, dying at the ancestral home in 1759.  And Roger’s descendants were still there a century or so later.  It was said that Roger had never fired a gun or quarrelled with any man in his life.

A later Moon line began with Henry Moon, an apparent deserter to the American cause during the Revolutionary War.  After the war he ran an inn at McCandless township in Allegheny county.

Georgia.  Moons from Virginia descended on Georgia in the late 1700’s.

John Moon, a descendant of Jasper Moon in Virginia, migrated to Columbia county in Georgia around the year 1770 and became part of the Quaker community in that county.  His son Thomas was a prosperous farmer with a large plantation there who died in 1855 at the good age of ninety six.  Of his progeny:

  • Lewis Moon served two terms in the lower house of the General Assembly of Georgia and one term in the Georgia Senate.
  • Jesse Moon moved to Randolph county in Alabama in the late 1840’s where he had bought himself a farm.
  • whilst the youngest son Joseph Moon remained in Georgia.  He married for the third time at the age of seventy five and died in 1893 at the age of ninety seven. 

The family history was recounted in William Moon’s 1920 book History of the Moon Family.

Meanwhile Jacob Moon – from New Kent county and a descendant of Abraham Moon – was rewarded for furnishing supplies and services during the Revolutionary War with land in Georgia.  He and his family moved to Greene county, Georgia in 1786.  His sons William and Pleasant settled in Elbert county.

Elsewhere.  Robert Moon came to New England and was recorded as a tailor working in Boston in 1644. He moved to Rhode Island in 1651 where his descendants lived for many generations.  One branch later settled in Vermont and then in upstate New York. Judge Walter Moon, born there, was one of the early settlers of Nebraska in 1873.

Canada.  Two brothers Robert and Henry Moon left Cornwall for Simcoe county, Ontario in 1832 at around the same time as two of their cousins departed for Australia.

Australia.  Moon immigrants here included:

  • William Moon and his family from Kent who came to Sydney on the Maitland in 1838.  They were assisted emigrants who managed to survive the crowded and unhygienic conditions on-board the vessel during the voyage.  On their arrival they moved south to farm, eventually settling in Ulladulla.  
  • and James Moon and his family from Hampshire, also assisted emigrants, who came to Sydney on the Bussorah Merchant in 1853.

New Zealand.  Philip Moon, from Cornwall, was an earlier settler in New Zealand, arriving there with his family on the Blenheim in 1842.   He lived and died as a stonemason in New Plymouth.

Moon Surname Miscellany

A Danish Moon Origin.  It was said, although this has been disputed, that the Moons came originally from Denmark. They were a crack fighting troop that the King of Denmark loaned to William the Conqueror in 1066.  They were called the Order of the Crescent and their banner was a Crescent.  They were known especially for fighting by the light of the moon.

William was so pleased with them that after his reclamation of England that he offered land grants to anyone who would settle in England.  Some returned to Denmark.  But several stayed.

Legend has it that some of the clan had become guards to the Queen due to their great height. People called them the Moon Men, possibly a holdover from their fighting days but also because they were so tall that people said they were “tall as the moon.”

When it became the custom to take last names they took the name of Moone (spelled at that time with an e).

The Mohuns of Dunster Castle.  In the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066 William de Mohun had been granted extensive landholdings in SW England. By 1086 he had established a castle on a hill overlooking the village of Dunster in Somerset to protect these lands. It was also strategically placed to help guard the coast against the threat of any seaborne attack, as well as controlling the coastal road running from Somerset to Gloucestershire.

William de Mahun held Dunster Castle against a siege by the usurper Stephen in 1138 and was made Earl of Somerset as a result.  Later, Reginald de Mohun took a prominent part in the invasion of France in 1206 and accompanied King John to Ireland in 1210.  The Mohuns prospered at that time as many of them were successful in marrying wealthy women.

A survey of the castle in 1266 described the Upper Ward on the top of the motte as containing a hall with a buttery, a pantry, a kitchen, a bakehouse, the chapel of Saint Stephen and a knight’s hall, guarded by three towers.  The Lower Ward, which Reynold Mohun had rebuilt in stone, included a granary, two towers and a gatehouse.  One of the towers, called the Fleming Tower, was used as a prison.

In 1330 Sir John de Mohun, the tenth of the line, inherited the castle. John, although a notable knight, was childless and fell into considerable debt.  When he died in 1376, the senior line of Mohun ended and the castle was sold. 

Thomas Moon, Drake’s Captain.  Thomas Moon was born in Bristol in 1520 and went to sea as a young man initially as a ship’s carpenter.  However, he soon became one of Sir Francis Drake’s most trusted sea captains.

Drake said that Captain Moon struck the first blow against the Spaniards in the South Seas in the war that resulted in transferring the supremacy of the seas from Spain to England.  He continued with Drake through this long naval conflict and was with Drake on his voyage around the world.  In 1570 he set foot in America at a time when there was no English settlement there.

He died in 1585, killed by a Spaniard in Cartagena harbor.

The Mystery of Henry Moon.  Larry Pearce who penned the account The Mystery of Henry Moon was, in doing so, trying to decipher the life of his ancestor Henry Moon, six generations back, who had fought in the Revolutionary War.

Some have given his birth, either in Ireland or England, as 1718.  This looks unlikely.  Other records show him being born a little before 1755.  He fought in the American Revolutionary War.  He was initially serving under British General Burgoyne.   But by the time the war was over, he had apparently deserted and was fighting on the American side.

After the war, sometime around 1796, he established himself at McCandless township in Allegheny county, Pennsylvania.  There he ran an inn and raised a large family. He died in 1821 and was recorded as being buried on Sugar Loaf Hill at North Lake Park near the Moon Lodge. This house stood back in the hollow where the present day Moon Grove picnic pavilion is located.

His inn stayed in Moon hands.  But there was a gap in the records until 1858 when Joseph M. Moon, Jr, his grandson, came on board at the inn at the age of 23.  Joseph lived until 1905.

Joseph Moon in Georgia.  Joseph Moon was born in Columbia county, Georgia in 1796 and died in Walton county in 1893 at the ripe age of ninety seven.  During that period he was married three times and raised eighteen children.  He was a prosperous farmer, but lived simply in the log cabin that he had built for himself in 1840 near the Sharon Baptist church where he worshipped.

He was an ardent Democrat and voted for every Democratic candidate from Andrew Jackson to Grover Cleveland.  His grandson William recalled marching up to the polls with him, Joseph voting for the last time and William for the first time.  Several remarked that this would elect Cleveland, and sure enough it did.

He was a very stout and active man in his later years.  William recalled that he was picking cotton for him when it was threatening to rain.  His grandfather simply got out a washtub and picked twenty pounds in an hour.

Among his possessions was an old Bible that had been in the family for over a hundred and fifty years. His father Thomas had failed for some reason to place the date of the month on which he was born in the family record.  His father had simply recalled the day that he was digging potatoes.  Joseph later celebrated this day of digging potatoes as his birthday.

Reader Feedback – Moons in Arkansas.  I am from Trumann, Arkansas.  My descendants that I know for at least three generations were from Arkansas, Alabama, and Virginia.

Roger Moon (

The Moons’ Voyage to Australia on the Maitland.  The Maitland had been used for the transport of convicts to Australia.  In 1838 the vessel was converted to barque rigging for its one and only voyage to Australia with emigrants.

Although the ship was chartered under Admiralty control, the unscrupulous charter organizers – with an eye on the profit potential – were able to cram 205 adults, 111 children and some livestock for fresh food on board for the journey.

Most of the passengers had little choice in the matter.  They were being assisted to emigrate from England by their parishes who paid around five pounds in sponsorship in order to remove their commitment to support these poorer families.  This was in fact the case with the family of William Moon, his wife Hannah and their five children from Benenden in Kent.

The Maitland departed from Gravesend in Kent on June 24, 1838.  Newspaper reports show that it arrived in Sydney, Australia four and a half months later on November 5.  During the voyage, because of the crowded and unhygienic conditions, the typhus and scarlet fever infections among the passengers resulted in a very high mortality rate. In Sydney the vessel was placed in quarantine at Manly Cove, some passengers and crew on board there and some “under canvas” ashore.

Fortunately the Moon family survived these hardships and later departed Sydney for farmland south at Shellharbour.

Moon Names

  • William de Mohun who came over with William the Conqueror is considered to be the progenitor of many of the Moons in England. 
  • Thomas Moon was one of Sir Francis Drake’s most trusted sea captains. 
  • William Moon was the English creator in the 1840’s of Moon type, the first widely used practical reading alphabet for the blind. 
  • Lottie Moon was a pioneer American Baptist missionary in China, from 1873 to 1912. 
  • Rev. Sun Myung Moon was the Korean founder of the Unification Church that has spread globally.   
  • Keith Moon was a distinctive and wild drummer who played for the English rock band the Who in the 1970’s.

Moon Numbers Today

  • 10,000 in the UK (most numerous in Kent)
  • 15,000 in America (most numerous in Georgia)
  • 7,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

Moon and Like Surnames

The Norman Conquest brought new rulers to England and they brought their names and language, a form of French, with them.  Over time their names became less French and more English in character.  Thus Hamo became Hammond, Reinold Reynolds and Thierry Terry and so forth.  The names Allen, Brett, Everett, and Harvey were probably Breton in origin as Bretons also arrived, sometimes as mercenaries.

The new Norman lords often adopted new last names, sometimes from the lands they had acquired and sometimes from places back in Normandy.  Over time the name here also became more English.  Thus Saint Maur into Seymour, Saint Clair into Sinclair, Mohun into Moon, and Warenne into Warren.

Here are some of these Norman and Breton originating names that you can check out.


Written by Colin Shelley

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