What Is the History of the Family Name Morris?


Quick Answer

The surname Morris originates from several countries, including Great Britain, Ireland and Germany. In England and Scotland, Morris is an anglicized version of the French name Maurice, which the Normans introduced to the British Isles. In Ireland and Wales, the name derives from Ó Muirghis and Meurig, while in Germany, it originates from Moritz. Morris also has roots in several traditional Jewish surnames.

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Full Answer

The French name Maurice derives from "maurus," which means swarthy or dark in Latin. Variants of Maurice began to appear in British records after the Norman conquest of 1066. Its earliest written appearance was in the 1176 Danelaw in London, and its earliest recorded use as a surname appeared in the Pipe Rolls of the City of London in 1191. After that, variations of Maurice and Morris, including Morice, Morys and Morisse continued to show up commonly in rolls and church registers throughout Britain.

Davie Morris, who traveled from London to the Bermudas in 1635, was one of the first emigrants to introduce the surname to the Americas. Other Morrises who emigrated in the 17th century included Humphrey Morris, who landed in Barbados, and Jenkin, Frederick and Amy Morris, who settled in Virginia.

The Morris family crest depicts a banner of a lion beneath the helmet from a suit of armor, along with decorative scrollwork and knotwork.

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