Recorded in many forms including Morse, Morst, Morest, Morrist, Moorse, Mooriss and Moorst, this is a British Isles surname of great antiquity. It is dialectal of the popular personal name Morris, widespread in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The derivation is from the Old French personal name "Maurice", ultimately from the Latin "Maurus" meaning moorish, or dark and swarthy. Introduced into Britain by the Normans after 1066, Mauricius de Edligtona appears in the documents of the Danelaw, for the city of London in 1176. Other early examples of the surname recording are those of John Morice and Robert Morrisse in 1275 and 1308 respectively, whilst the first recorded Scottish namebearer was Arthur Mauricius, who witnesses a charter by the Earl of Levenax in 1364. In Ireland a family of Morris became one of the Tribes of County Galway in 1485. Samuel Morse (1791 - 1872) was the inventor of the electric telegraph and of Morse Code, and a direct descendant of Anthony Morse of Wiltshire who had emigrated to Massachusettes in 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Josce Mauriccii, which was dated 1191, in the Pipe Rolls of London, during the reign of King Richard 1st, 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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