Moore Surname Meaning, History & Origin
English, Scottish or Irish roots. And in each place the
derivation of the name is different.
derivation is from the
Middle English mere, meaning
moor or marsh. Various places took this name, such as
Moore in Cheshire and More in Shropshire. Moore and, to a lesser
extent later, More became surnames. Moore might also have developed as a nickname from Moor (as in Othello the Moor), denoting someone of a swarthy or dark-skinned complexion. In addition, the Normans brought the name More (from St. Maurus) with them to England. However, this particular saint did not seem to have appealed much to the English.
signified “large” so that Moore, as this or similar names developed,
would probably at one time have
been a nickname for a heavily-built man. The spelling of the name
varied around the country. Muir was mostly to be found in Ayrshire and the southwest; Moore in the Highlands; Moir in
Aberdeen; and Moar in the Orkneys and Shetlands.
derivation is different again, Moore being an
anglicization of the Gaelic Mordha
clan name. Mordha means
“proud” in Gaelic. Ireland did also have some English
Select Moore Resources on The Internet
- O’More Clan. O’Mores/Moores in
- The Moores of Moore House.
Moores in County Mayo.
- The Moores of Appleby Magna in
Leicestershire. Contents – Moores in Appleby Magna.
- Moore Family Sketch. Moores from Virginia to Ohio.
- Susan Moore
A Moore family in Alabama.
William de More appeared in Staffordshire rolls in the 1086 Domesday
Book. Sir Thomas de la More of Northmoor was sheriff of
Oxfordshire in 1370 and John More from London held More Hall in
Hertfordshire in 1390.
The More name achieved a
national importance during the
reign of Henry VIII. Thomas More, the son of a London barrister,
gained renown as the author of Utopia.
He became Henry VIII’s Chancellor but incurred the King’s disfavor and
lost his head in 1535. Sir Christopher More from Derbyshire fared
better in London, making money from the dissolution of the
monasteries. His son William was a trusted advisor of Queen
Elizabeth and built his family mansion, Losely House, in Surrey (which
still stands today).
The Mores of More Hall were an established family in Lancashire from
early times. They became Moores and the Moore name gradually
supplanted More in England over time (as in the case of the Moores of
Appleby Parva in Leicestershire).
By the 19th century, the
largest number of Moores were to be found in the north, in Lancashire
Yorkshire. There were also sizeable pockets in London, the West
Midlands, and in
Scotland. The name Moore
and its variants spread around Scotland from the 1300’s, particularly
in areas where Old Norse was still spoken. Robertus More, for
instance, became a burgess of Aberdeen in 1317.
The most notable
of these families was the Mures (later Muirs) of Ayrshire who held sway
at Rowallan castle from 1300 to 1700. One of these Mures was
called the Rud of Rowallane, being large in stature, very strong and
prone to pugilism (as befitting a mor).
Ireland. The Ua Mordha (O’Mores) were the
leading clan of the seven septs of Leix. They were for many
centuries thorns to the English invaders. In 1609 the English
transplanted the remnants of the clan to county Kerry in the hopes that
the clan would die out. Rory O’More led the last hurrah,
one of the key figures in a plot to capture Dublin in the Irish
Rebellion of 1641.
His name is commemorated today in the Rory O’More bridge which spans
the Liffey in Dublin. His name also appears in a popular Irish
folk song which begins as follows:
He was bold as a hawk and she soft as the dawn
He wished in his heart pretty Kathleen to please
And he thought the best way to do that to tease.”
Another O’More song, Kathleen O’More,
is a ballad narrated by an unidentified man lamenting the death of his
There were English Moores in Ireland as well. The Moores of
Barmeath arrived in the 14th century, the Moores of Barne in Tipperary
in the 1600’s. But the most well-known of these Moores were the
Moores of Moore Hall in county Mayo. Their wealth came from a
trading business out of Alicante in Spain. Later generations
were prominent as historians and writers.
Today the largest
clusters of Moores in Ireland are in the Ulster counties of Antrim and
America. Thomas Moore
from Suffolk was one of the first arrivals in New England, reaching
Salem in 1630. Moores arrived as well into Virginia and later
- William Moore, for instance, purchased land in the 1650’s along
Nansemond river and his descendants were to be found in North
- James Moore was the colonial Governor of South Carolina
in 1700 (there
is a belief among historians that he was the son of the Irish rebellion
leader Rory O’More). His grandson Robert Moore was an American
general in the Revolutionary War.
- while Augustine Moore was a highly successful tobacco
entrepreneur in Virginia in the early 1700’s who built his Chelsea
plantation near Yorktown. The attempt to link him to the English
statesman Sir Thomas More was based on forged documents.
Robert Moore migrated from Georgia to Blount county, Alabama in 1865
and the town of Susan
Moore there was named after his family.
Two later Scottish Muir immigrants later made lasting contributions to
- John Muir came to Wisconsin with his parents
in the 1850’s. He spent his life in the unspoilt terrain of the
West and became an advocate for forest conservation. He was
responsible for the establishment of the Yosemite National Park and was
the first president of the Sierra Club.
- Alexander Muir who
immigrated to Canada as a child in the 1840’s wrote the song The Maple Leaf Forever.
Canada. Early Moore
settlers in Canada were Empire Loyalists. The Quaker Jeremiah
Moore had been “a great sufferer during the American War on account of
his attachment to Great Britain,” according to his 1795 petition for
land. He settled in Pelham township, Ontario. Other Moores
headed for Hull, Quebec. David Moore became a lumber baron there
in the mid 19th century.
Australia. Edward Moore
and his wife Elizabeth were convicted in Manchester for forgery and
transported to Australia in 1818 for forgery. On release they
began farming at Camden near Sydney and prospered. Their seven
children raised large families and contributed to the rapid development
of the Camden region. Descendants are scattered across Australia, the
most prominent being the fourth generation Tom Inglis Moore, a
Professor of English Literature and a pioneer in the study of
Select Moore Miscellany
More Hall in Hertfordshire. In 1390 John More of London held the manor and in 1500 it was held by
Sir John More, the father of the famous Sir Thomas More, Lord
Chancellor. He is said to have written Utopia there. After his trial
and execution in 1535, the property was confiscated. Queen Mary
in the first year of her reign granted a reversion to the Mores after
existing leases had expired, to Anne More, the widow of John More (Sir
Thomas’s eldest son).
The Moores and Their Devon Wooden Ships. In 1815
there were said to be seven shipbuilders along Sutton Pool in
Plymouth. The largest of these was Joseph Moore’s yard at the end
of the Friary Street which led into the harbor from Exeter
Street. This business had been started up by Joseph’s father
William in the 1750’s.
of the yard subsequently passed to William Moore and then, in 1850, to
his son William Foster Moore. He carried on the business for
another twenty years. However, by the mid-1870’s with iron ships
becoming the norm, he decided that he would not be building iron ships
and closed the yard down. He himself was getting on in years and
he did have an offer on his yard site.
Moirs in Aberdeen. Moir (from the Gaelic mor)
has been the most common spelling of the surname in Aberdeen – although it was pronounced More (and this and Moore and Moer were other local
spellings of the name). James Moir was the burgess of Aberdeen in 1495. His grandson John became the first laird of
Stoneywood. Another Moir branch were lairds at Scotstown.
These Highland Moirs backed the Jacobite cause in 1715 and again in
1745, both times on the losing side. After the defeat at Culloden,
James Moir of Stoneywood was a wanted man and he fled with his brother
However, the families showed some resilience later. On his return
to Scotland, James Moir was instrumental in starting up a paper mill on
his Stoneywood land in 1770 (there is today a paper mill retail outlet
at this location). George Moir of Scotstown departed for Bahia in
Brazil in the early 1800’s where he became a successful merchant.
On his return he had accumulated enough money to acquire a country
estate, Denmore Park. He lived there growing rhodedendrums in his
garden until his death in 1885.
Rory O’More and The 1641 Rebellion. The prime mover of the 1641 Rebellion was Rory O’More, a descendant of the
princely house of Dunamase. The plans for the rebellion, unfortunately,
were betrayed and Rory only escaped with difficulty. However, the
rebellion did break out and soon spread across the whole country.
Rory succeeded in inducing the Catholic Anglo-Irish nobility to
join forces with their fellow countrymen.
following is a rendition of a contemporary poem of the time:
private gentleman, with no resources beyond his intellect and his
courage, this Rory, when Ireland was weakened by defeat and
confiscation and guarded with a jealous care constantly increasing in
strictness and severity, conceived the vast design of rescuing the
country from England; and even accomplished it. For in three
years England did not retain a city in Ireland but Dublin and Drogheda
and for eight years the land was possessed and the supreme authority
exercised by the confederation created by O’More. History
contains no stricter instance of the influence of an individual mind.”
Dunamase fell into the hands of Cromwell’s General Hewson in
1650. He blew the castle up (the hill from which he bombarded the
old fortress is still known as Hewson’s hill). Rory O’More fought
on in defense of his country until his last stronghold fell. He
escaped to the mainland and died, an outlaw with a price on his head,
on the shores of Lough Foyle in 1656.
The Moore Family in Fairfax, Virginia. This forebear of this family was the Rev. Jeremiah Moore,
a veteran of the Revolutionary War and a Baptist preacher who was known
for his advocacy of religious freedom. He and his wife and eleven
children lived on his Moorefield
farm in present-day Vienna.
It was his grandson Thomas who moved to Fairfax
where he purchased Moore House
(which, as the Sweet Life Café, still
stands). Thomas fought in the Mexican War and joined the Army of
Northern Virginia during the Civil War. After the war, he restarted his law
practice and was active in local life and politics.
His son Walton followed him into this profession,
practicing law in Fairfax for over fifty years. He was elected to
Congress in 1919 and served until 1931. He was known as an “independent
Democrat,” as he refused to join the Byrd Organization which ran
Virginia politics at that time.
In 1933, he joined the cabinet of President Franklin D. Roosevelt as
Assistant Secretary of State. He served in that post until 1940
and died the following year. While Assistant Secretary, he
occasionally entertained President & Mrs. Roosevelt at his
house. He boasted that he was the only man in U.S. history to
have shaken hands with Jefferson Davis and Franklin Roosevelt during
Susan Moore and the Moore Family in Alabama. The
book The Moore Family of Alabama by Marie
Jackson and Max Pate was published in 2012.
The family history starts with an overview of the Zachariah
roots in South Carolina, Zachariah Moore
and his wife Mary Still married and resided in Walton County, Georgia
they reared 10 children. Some of the
Zachariah Moore children migrated to Texas, while some remained in
Georgia. Four brothers fought together in
eldest son, Robert M. Moore,
came to Blount county, Alabama in the 1860’s. The
authors present the history of Robert M.
Moore and his descendants and illustrate the impact of this pioneer
through story, historical photos, and genealogy. A
documentary of life on the Moore farm with
its tenant homes and sharecroppers is one highlight of the book. The story of Susan Moore, the person; Susan
Moore, the school; and Susan Moore, the town weaves a thread throughout
- Sir Thomas More was the English lawyer, author of Utopia, and the statesman beheaded by
Henry VIII in 1535.
- Francis Moore, the court
astrologer, came from a poor family in Shropshire. He first
produced Old Moore’s Almanack in 1697. It is still published today.
- Thomas Moore is an Irish 19th
century poet from Kerry best known today for his Irish Melodies.
- John Muir, an early advocate
of conservation in America, was the founder of the Sierra Club.
- Marianne Moore was a 20th
century American poet.
- Henry Moore was the acclaimed English sculptor of the 20th century.
- Bobby Moore was the English
football captain who lifted the 1966 World Cup.
- Dudley Moore, one of the performers in the comic stage review Beyond The Fringe, went on to star in movies in the 1970’s.
- Demi Moore is a well-known American actress.
Select Moore Numbers Today
- 144,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 263,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
- 95,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)
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