Recorded as Morris and Morriss, this famous surname is widespread throughout the British Isles. It derives from the Old French personal name "Maurice", itself from the Latin word maurus meaning moorish, or dark and swarthy. Introduced into Britain by the Normans after the invasion of 1066, as a personal name it was first recorded in 1167 when one Mauricius de Edligtona appears in the Documents of the Danelaw, for the city of London. Early examples of the surname recordings include John Morice in the Hundred Rolls of Buckinghamshire in the year 1275, and Robert Morisse in the Chartulary of the Priory of St. Thomas the Martyr, near Stafford, Staffordshire, in 1308. Early church records list the christening of Phillip, the son of Bromfield and Elizabeth Morriss, on March 22nd 1702 at St. James', Clerkenwell, London, and that of John, the son of John Morris, on June 19th 1868, at Abbey District, Galway, Ireland. Alice Morriss, aged 20, was a famine emigrant, who sailed from London aboard the ship "Elizabeth" bound for New York on May 16th 1846. A Coat of Arms granted to the family has a black field charged with a silver cross patonce between twelve billets and five torteaux. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jasce Mauricii, which was dated 1191, in the "Pipe Rolls of London", during the reign of King Richard 1st of England and known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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