Recorded as Maurice, Morris, Morriss, Morrice, Morrish and Murrish, this is a surname of English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish origin. It is derived from an Old French personal name Maurice, introduced into the British Ilses sometime after the Conquest of England in 1066. From the Roman (Latin) Mauritius meaning moorish or dark and swarthy, the surname dates back to the late 12th Century (see below). It was probably introduced into Northern Europe by returning Crusader knights and pilgrims from the famous Crusades to free the Holy Land. Early examples of recordings taken from surviving charters include Richard Maurice in the Chartulary of the Monastery of Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, in 1252, John Murice in the Hundred Rolls of the land owners of Buckinghamshire in 1275, and John Morysch in the calendar of Letter Books of the city of London in the reign of King Henry Vth known as the victor of Agincourt. A much later recording taken from the church registers of the city of London is that of the christening of Walter John Morrish, on February 27th 1835, at St. Dunstans in the East, Stepney. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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