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The name Morris is written in different forms according to nationality or family tradition. The more frequent forms are: Morris, Morriss, Moris, Morys, Morrys, Morrey, Morrice, Morice or Morres in its English variations; Mawrrhys or Mawrees according to the original Welsh spelling; Maurice in French; Mauritz in German, Mauritius in Latin, and perhaps Mawrrhys in Welsch.

According to the genealogists, the "Morris" family is of great antiquity. It is said to be distinguished in Norman, British and American history, and to probably be a branch of the Royal Family of Wales.

The Morris family is divided into three branches according to its three sources of ancestry: 1. Welsh, 2. Continental, and 3. Jewish. Our Morris Ancestors are, so far as we currently know, entirely from the English county of Cheshire. Since Cheshire, especially the part from which our ancestors derive, lies immediately adjacent to the Welch border, it is thought that they probably belong to the Welch branch of the family. You can see on the accompanying map most of the towns with which our ancestors are associated. This area lies just slightly southeast of the town of Chester.

Map of Taporley and vacinity.

Branches of the Family.


The Welsh or Celtic branch of the name Morris is the most ancient so far as historic data can determine, in the effort to trace the genealogical line. It is thought that Morris is formed from two Welsh words, "Mawr" and "Rhys." Two meanings for these words are given. One tells us that “Mawr” which signifies "brave" (perhaps the same as "Mars," the God of War,) and that “Rhys” means "rushing" or "flaming," so that "Mawrrhys" would mean something like "brave or bright warrior, or warlike." The other explanation is that "Mawr" means "great" and "Rhys" is "chief” or “king," which is the more likely explanation, since several of the Kings of Wales bore the name "Mawrrhys."

If "Mawrrhys" was not the official title of the Kings of Wales, at least several of them bore that name. Reynulph, contemporary writer, states that "Mawrrhys," the last to bear the title of King of Wales, died in 1200 A.D., and he pronounces the following eulogy on him: "O blisse of battaile, chylde of chivalrie, defence of countrie, worship of aimes, arm of strength, hand of largeness, eye of reason, brightness of honestie, bearing in breast, Hector's prowess, Archilles' sharpness, Nestor's soberness, Eurillaus' swiftness, Tydeus' hardiness, Samson's strength, Hector's worthiness, Ulysses' faire speech, Solomon's wisdom, Ajax hardness, etc. etc., and several more pages in the same strain,--bewailing that "Great Mawrrhys is dead" and "Wales is dead" in having no defender.

Lewis Morris, Lord of the Manor of Morrisania, New York in 1697, was a progenitor of a large branch of the Morris family in America. His roots were originally in Wales, from Tintern, County Monmouth, Wales, and used the arms:
Crest: A castle in flames, proper
Motto: Tandem vincitur (He conquered at Last)

Lewis Morris Coat of Arms

Another, perhaps older, version

Burke in his "Commoners" says:

"The family of Morrice (Morris) is of great antiquity and can be traced in lineal descent from Athelstan Glodrydd, Prince of Ferlex, betwist Wye and Severn, who sprang from the old Princes of Powys, and who through his mother, Fheingar, daughter and heir of Grono as (son) Tudor Trevor, was eighth in a direct line from Caradac Vriechfras, Lord of Hereford, one of the Knights of King Arthur's Round Table (540 A.D.) Athelstan Glodrydd was godson of Athelstan, King of England (924 A.D.) and founded the fourth Royal tribe of Wales. His grandson Holdliw was Prince of Ferlex."

This "family of great antiquity" is shown as follows: {S31, 32}.

*  JUDAH, son of Jacob from Biblical history.
*  Zerah
*  DARDANUS  (DARDA) [Some visitations follow his lineage to Japeth, Son of Noah, rather than through Judah.]
*  TROS, King of Troy. He ruled from 1366-1326. He died about 1281 B.C. 
*  ASSARACUS, Prince of Troy.
*  ANCHISES (Ancheses), Prince of Troy. Son of CAPYS and THEMISTE.
*  AENEAS, King of Latium. Troy was destroyed in 1181 BC by the Greeks after a long siege.
Aeneas escaped from Troy, with his son Ascanius, and came by boat to Italy. He died about 1175 BC. * IULUS ASCANIUS ap Aeneas, King of Alba Longa (Latium on the western shore of Lago di Albano, near Rome). * SILVIUS ap Iulus Ascanius, (SELYS HEN, Silvius) , Prince of Alba Longa. * BRUT (BRUTUS) ap Sylvius, King in Britain. (ca. 1150 BC - ca. 1091 BC) * KAMBER (Camber) ap Brutus, King of Cambria (Wales) & Cornwall. * GORBONIAN ap Camber, King of Cambria & Cornwall. * DIFNWAL (Dyfnwal Hen) Gorbonian, King Cambria & Cornwall. * KINGEN (Cyngen) ap Dyfnwal, King of Cambria & Cornwall. * ASER (Asser) ap Cyngen, King of Cambria & Cornwall. * BLEDHUD (Bleiddud) ap Asser, King of Cambria & Cornwall. * HENWIN (Henwyn) HENWYN ap Bleiddud and RHAGAW verch LLYR (Lear). He died about 772 B.C. * KENNEDHA (Cunedda) ap Henwyn, King In Britain, He died about 750 B.C. * RYWALHON (Rhiwallon) ap Cunedda, King in Britian. Gwrwst died about 735 B.C. * GORWST (Gwrwst) ap Rhiwallon, King In Britain. He died about 721 B.C. * SEISYLL (Serwyl) ap Gwrwst, King In Britain. * ANTONIUS ap Seisyll, King of Cornwall. * AEDH MAWR * PRYDAIN (BRYDAIN), from whom Britain may have received it's name. * DYNFARTH ap Prydain, ruler in Cornwall. * CRYDON ap Dyfnarth * CERWYD ap Crydon * ENEID ap Cerwyd * MANOGAN ap Eneid * Beli Mawr, sovereign of Britain. (110 BC - 70 BC). * LLUD * CASNAR WLEDIG (Cauardd Weledig, Kasuar wledic) ap LLUD * LLARI (Llary) ap CASNAR WLEDIG * RHUN RHUDDBALADR (Rhun Rhudd Baladr, Run Rydd Baladr, Run rudd baladr) ap LLARI * CLYWEDOG (Bywdeg, Rhyce Buwdig, Bywdec) ap Rhun Rhudd Baladr * POWYR LEW (Breuddyd, Bywyr Lew, Homer Lew, Pywyr lew) ap CLYWEDOG * GWINAU (Gwineu Deufreuddwyd, Gwinev dav vreuddwyd) ap Bywyr * Teon ap Gwineu Deufreduddwyd * Tegonwy ap Teon * Iorwerth Hirvlawdd (Hirflawdd) * Idnerth (Idworth) ap Iowerth Hirflawdd * Cadwaladr Gwenwynwyn (Cadwr Wenwyn, Cateur Wenwyn) ap Idnerth, Lord of Reult and Rodnor in time of Alfred the Great (843-901). * Severus (Seferus) ap Cadwr Wenwyn, Lord of Builth. * Ivon (Ifor). Prince of Ferllys, Lord of Builth. * Cyhelyn ap Ifor, Lord of Builth. * Athelstan (Elystan) Glodrydd ap Cyhelin * Cadwgan ap Elystan Glodrydd, from whom William the Conqueror wrested the Earldom of Hereford and his great landed estates. He had two sons.

_____________|______________ Holdliw Idnerth, ancestor of another branch of the Morris family. From Holdliw, who was Prince of Ferlex, descends: * Rys, Lord of Rodnor. * Holdliw Goch * Gwrgenan. * Grono * Griffith * Madoc * Howel * Philip Dvrddn * Cadwgan, His second Son. * David * Philip * Ievan * Rees * Morgan * Morris, Whose children assumed the surname Morris as follows:

* William Morris.

* Ievan Morris.

* Owen Morris.

Several other Morris families descended from this same line.

Owen Morris had a son James, who was High Sheriff of Surrey in 1764. His son Roger Morris married Mary Philipse, original of heroine of Cooper's "Spy," one of Geo. Washington's "flames." Her children sold their property to John Jacob Astor, which had been confiscated at the opening of the American Revolution.


It is said that the first people with the name Morris were found in Herefordshire, where they were found even well before the Norman Conquest. {S30}.

However, probably the earliest branch of the family came to England with the army of William the Conqueror. It is said to be of Moorish origin, and that Morris or Maurice is another name for Moorish. It is claimed that the "Morris Dance" was introduced into Europe from Morocco by the Moors, and may have given its name to individuals who became founders of a family connection. In that case the probability is that they came by way of Spain into Normandy. It is certain that several leaders in the army of William the Conqueror bore the name of Morris or Maurice. William erected the Battle Abbey on the field of Hastings to commemorate his victory, and several by the name of Morris are inscribed on this historic monument and were rewarded with grants of land in England. One of these was a Maurice who was one of William's chaplains, and who was made Bishop of London. He is said to have crowned Henry I in 1100 A.D. This Continental family of Morris is of entirely different origin from the Welsh branch. These facts as to the Welsh and Continental divisions are narrated in two books now in the Public Library of New York City, and in the Congressional Library at Washington, D.C., entitled "The Morris Family" and "The Morris Register."

One prominent branch of the continental family is found in Ireland. The name Morris in Ireland is of Norman origin from the names de Maries and de Marisco. The name is also used interchangeably with Morrissey and Fitzmaurice. The main Sept bearing this name was originally based in County Galway in the West of Ireland. They have a separate crest.

Ireland Morris family coat of arms.


Though the name Morris in most often used as a common first name, it does occur as a last name as well. None have ever been able to account for the fact that so many Jews bear the name "Morris." One indication seems to be that it is derived from Moshe, or as we commonly call it, Moses. However, it was a custom to take the names of families belonging to the country in which they lived to escape persecution by concealing their racial identity. If this is the case, why were they so partial to the name of "Morris?"

Other Prominent Morris Families

The families of Robert Morris and Lewis Morris were prominent in America. Another American branch of the family descends from Amos Morris of East Haven, Connecticut. There were others in Virginia and other southern states. In England there were prominent Morris families, as ours, in Cheshire; but also in Lancashire, Essex, Stratford, Surrey, York, Kent, and Gloucester.

The family of Robert Morris, Treasurer of the United States, financier the American Revolution, and signed the Declaration of Independence, was from Liverpool, England, which is also not far from the Welch border. In his job as the United State's superintendent of Finance, Robert Morris worked with General George Washington, wrung money and supplies from the states, borrowed money in the face of overwhelming difficulties, and on occasion even obtained personal loans to further the Revolutionary War cause. To help fund Washington's Yorktown campaign Robert Morris used his and his family's personal credit, issuing notes over his own signature. That combined with a loan from France secured enough money to finance the army. Later Robert used a portion of that loan from France and his own personal fortune to fund and charter the First Bank of North America in 1782. The bank was the first financial institution chartered by the United States. Robert Morris and Lewis Morris have common ancestors in the Welch branch of the family.

The Morris family of Warrington and Betshanger trace their line to Brut, first king of England 100 years B.C. The Morris family of York and of Kent claim the same origin. Roger Morris, one of their descendants, was the successful suitor over George Washington for the hand of Mary Philipse, a famous beauty of that period and heroine of "The spy," a Novel by J. Fenemore Cooper.

The Morris family of Essex claim descent from "Mawrrhys" the Welsh prince of the twelfth century, so eloquently eulogized by Reynulph. Waltham Abbey in the County of Essex, only twelve miles north of London, had Nicholas Morris as its Abbot from 1371 to 1390. John Morris (perhaps his relative) gave the Abbey forty acres of land in 1377.

The Archbishop of Gloucester in 542 A.D was descended from Beli Mawr (Bele, the great or Chief), King of all England and Wales. It is a singular coincidence that the 18th descendant of Athelstan himself was named "Morris." His children assumed the surname "Morris" from their father. They became prominent in Gloucester and Stratford, even in the vicinity of Stratford-on-Avon, the home of William Shakespeare. They trace their line to George Morris, Sr., of Clifford-Chambers in Gloucester. The official records show that members of this Morris family were living at Stratford as early as the reign of Edward IV and uninterruptedly to the present. At the time Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1558 and during her reign there were living at Stratford or at Gloucester, "Richard Morris" who had a son "Ferdinand; "John Morris," who married Elnor Jones and had a son "William;" "Julian Morris," "Kathryn Morris," who died in the home of Shakespeare, Rev. "Jasper Morris," Rector of the Church of Clifford-Chambers, "Anne Morris" and Matthew Morris, Gentleman."


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