Moore Surname Genealogy

If your name is Moore, you could have
English, Scottish or Irish roots. And in each place the
derivation of the name is different.
In England, the main
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.
In Scotland, the
Gaelic mor
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
and Moar in the Orkneys and Shetlands.
In Ireland, the
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

Moore Ancestry

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
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:

“Young Rory O’More courted Kathleen Bawn
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
there was named after his family.

Two later Scottish Muir immigrants later made lasting contributions to
new countries:

  • 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
Australian literature.

Select Moore Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Moore Names

was the English lawyer, author of Utopia, and the statesman beheaded
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.
was the acclaimed English sculptor of the 20th century.
Bobby Moore was the English
football captain who lifted the 1966 World Cup.   Dudley
, 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 Moores Today

  • 144,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 263,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 95,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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