This interesting and farily uncommon name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from the place called 'Moorsley' near Houghton le Spring in County Durham. The place is recorded in county records of circa 1160 as 'Moreslan', and in the 'Ecclesiastical Records of Durham' of 1190 as 'Moreslawe'. The name means 'the grove or thin wood on the moor', derived from the Old English pre 7th Century 'mor', moor, fen, waste upland, with 'leah', grove, thin wood, clearing in a wood. Locational surnames were acquired especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname development includes Morslie (1613, London), Morsleye (1635, ibid.), Morzley (1655, Yorkshire), Morslay (1657, ibid.) and Morsly (1669, Lancashire). One Jonathan Morsley was christened at All Saints, Wakefield, Yorkshire, on June 6th 1658. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Susan Morsley (marriage to Thomas Pick), which was dated August 23rd 1613, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, during the reign of King James 1 of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603-1625. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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