Recorded in a very wide range of spellings including Morphet, Morphett, Morfitt, Morfoot, Morfort, Morpit, Murfett, and Murfitt, this unusual surname is English. It is locational from "Morpeth", a village in the county of Northumberland, not far from the city of Newcastle upon Tyne, and equally not far from the Scottish borders. First recorded in the Assize Rolls of Northumberland in 1256 as "Morthpath", the place name, and hence the later surname, derives from the Olde English pre 7th century compound "mort-paeth", and has the literal meaning of "murder-path". Presumably in ancient times and probably up to the 17th century, and the joining of the two kingdoms under James 1st, this was a place notorious for murderous attacks by bandits and robbers. Morpeth is also on the track of the original Great North Road, and in a region called The Border Country, where for centuries "law and order" was locally enforced with little reference to either London or Edinburgh. Examples of the surname recording taken mainly from surviving registers of the diocese of Greater London include: Allen Murfitt, the son of Morgan Murfitt, who was christened at St Giles Cripplegate on June 24th 1576, Henry Morpet, who was christened at St James Clerkenwell, on April 1st 1630, Ann Morfoot who married James Milne on June 17th 1771 at St Mary-le-Bone, and in Whitburn, County Durham, Elizabeth Morphet who married John Allen on the 23rd May 1799. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger de Morpath. This was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of Yorkshire. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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