Morse History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The distinguished surname Morse emerged among the industrious people of Flanders, which was an important trading partner and political ally of Britain during the Middle Ages. As a result of the frequent commercial intercourse between the Flemish and English nations, many Flemish migrants settled in Britain. In early times, people were known by only a single name. However, as the population grew and people traveled further afield, it became increasingly necessary to assume an additional name to differentiate between bearers of the same personal name. One of the most common classes of surname is the patronymic surname, which was usually derived from the first name of the person's father. Flemish surnames of this type are often characterized by the diminutive suffix -kin, which became very frequent in England during the 14th century. The surname Morse is derived from the Old French name Maur, which is derived from the Latin personal name Mauritius, which means Moorish or dark. Morse is a late form of the surname. [1] [2]

Alternatively the name could have been derived from "Mawr and rys, a hero, a warrior, a brave man. " [3]

Early Origins of the Morse family

The surname Morse was first found in Gloucestershire where, conjecturally being of Flemish origin they were one of the many settlers who were invited into England to improve the industrial capabilities of the nation. [4]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 included Robert le Moreys, Somerset and later the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed Elena Morys and Johannes Morys. [1]

Thomas Morse was listed in the Feet of Fines for Essex in 1434 and later, William Morse was found in the Subsidy Rolls for Durham in 1524. Richard Morse was also found there in 1642. [5]

Early History of the Morse family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Morse research. Another 239 words (17 lines of text) covering the years 1555, 1610, 1575, 1771, 1807, 1791 and 1872 are included under the topic Early Morse History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Morse Spelling Variations

Flemish surnames are characterized by a large number of spelling variations. One reason for this is that medieval English lacked definite spelling rules. The spellings of surnames were also influenced by the official court languages, which were French and Latin. Names were rarely spelled consistently in medieval times. Scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to specific spelling rules, and people often had their names registered in several different forms throughout their lives. One of the greatest reasons for change is the linguistic uniqueness of the Flemish settlers in England, who spoke a language closely related to Dutch. The pronunciation and spelling of Flemish names were often altered to suit the tastes of English-speaking people. In many cases, the first, final, or middle syllables of surnames were eliminated. The name has been spelled Mors, Morse, Mawse and others.

Early Notables of the Morse family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Morse Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Morse Ranking

In the United States, the name Morse is the 709th most popular surname with an estimated 42,279 people with that name. [6]


United States Morse migration to the United States +

In the immigration and passenger lists were a number of people bearing the name Morse

Morse Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Samuel and Elizabeth Morse settled at Dedham in Massachusetts in 1635
  • Joseph Morse who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1635 along with Anthony and Mary
  • Anthoney Morse, who landed in New England in 1635 [7]
  • Daniel Morse, who landed in Dedham, Massachusetts in 1635 [7]
  • Samvell Morse, aged 50, who landed in New England in 1635 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Morse Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Francis Morse, who landed in Virginia in 1700 [7]
  • Michael Morse, settled in Boston in 1765
  • Phillip Morse, who settled in Trinity Bay in 1767
Morse Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Barney Morse, aged 30, who arrived in Maryland in 1813 [7]
  • Abraham Morse, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1824 [7]
  • John Morse, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1840 [7]
  • William Morse, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1846 [7]
  • J Morse, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Morse migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Morse Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Abner Morse, who landed in Anapolis (Annapolis), Nova Scotia in 1760
  • Samuel Morse, who landed in Anapolis (Annapolis), Nova Scotia in 1760
Morse Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Ben Morse, a Welshman, jumped his ship, the Perseverance, at St. John's, Newfoundland in 1818 [8]
  • Samuel Morse, who arrived in Canada in 1832
  • Moses W Morse, who arrived in Canada in 1836
  • Moses Webster Morse, who landed in Canada in 1841

Australia Morse migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Morse Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Morse, English convict who was convicted in Bridgewater, Somerset, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 27th April 1833, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [9]
  • Mr. John Morse, English convict who was convicted in Wiltshire, England for life, transported aboard the "Charles Kerr" on 6th June 1837, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [10]
  • Mr. Daniel Morse, British Convict who was convicted in Gloucester, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Asia" on 20th July 1837, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [11]
  • Mr. Robert Morse, Welsh convict who was convicted in Glamorganshire, Wales for 10 years, transported aboard the "David Clarke" on 3rd June 1841, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [12]
  • Charles Morse, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Competitor" in 1848 [13]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Morse migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Morse Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. James Morse, British settler, as the 2nd Detachment of New Zealand Corps of Royal New Zealand Fencibles travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Minerva" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 8th October 1847 [14]
  • Mr. Thomas Morse, (b. 1831), aged 31, English farm labourer, from Gloustershire travelling from London aboard the ship "Queen of Mersey" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, Southland, South Island, New Zealand on 20th October 1862 [15]
  • Mrs. Priscila Morse, (b. 1834), aged 28, English settler, from Gloustershire travelling from London aboard the ship "Queen of Mersey" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, Southland, South Island, New Zealand on 20th October 1862 [15]
  • Mr. Richard Morse, (b. 1837), aged 25, English labourer, from Gloustershire travelling from London aboard the ship "Queen of Mersey" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, Southland, South Island, New Zealand on 20th October 1862 [15]
  • Miss Mary Morse, (b. 1857), aged 5, English settler, from Gloustershire travelling from London aboard the ship "Queen of Mersey" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, Southland, South Island, New Zealand on 20th October 1862 [15]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Morse migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [16]
Morse Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • John and Oliver Morse, who settled in Barbados in 1660

Contemporary Notables of the name Morse (post 1700) +

  • Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872), American inventor and portrait painter, but best known as the co-inventor of "Morse Code"
  • Brigadier-General Winslow Carroll Morse (1904-1990), American Chief of Staff, Caribbean Air Command (1954-1956) [17]
  • Henry Woolson Morse (1858-1897), American composer of musical theatre
  • Jedidiah Morse (1761-1826), American geographer whose textbooks became a standard for students throughout America, father of telegraphy inventor Samuel F. B. Morse
  • David Bowditch Morse (b. 1953), award-winning American stage, television, and film actor
  • Charles Copeland Morse (1842-1900), American businessman known as the "American Seed King", co-founder of the Ferry-Morse Seed Company
  • David Morse (1907-1990), American lawyer, Legion of Merit awarded soldier, and bureaucrat
  • Wayne Lyman Morse (1900-1974), American lawyer and politician, professor of law and later dean at the University of Oregon, and a U.S. Senator (1945-69)
  • John Torrey Morse (1840-1937), American lawyer and biographer
  • Sir Christopher Jeremy Morse KCMG (1928-2016), English banker and cruciverbalist, Chancellor of the University of Bristol (1989 to 2003) and Chairman of Lloyds Bank; Colin Dexter's fictional detective, Inspector Morse, was named after him
  • ... (Another 3 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Stanley Morse, British Stoker, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [18]
  • Mr. Peter John Morse, British Stoker 1st Class, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and died in the sinking [18]
HMS Royal Oak
  • David Llewellyn Griffiths Morse (1922-1939), British Boy 1st Class with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [19]
RMS Lusitania
USS Arizona
  • Mr. George Robert Morse, American Seaman Second Class from Montana, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [21]
  • Mr. Norman Roi Morse, American Water Tender Second Class from Virginia, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [21]
  • Mr. Edward Charles Morse, American Seaman Second Class from Michigan, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [21]
  • Mr. Francis Jerome Morse, American Boatswain's Mate First Class from California, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [21]


Suggested Readings for the name Morse +

  • Morse Genealogy by J. Howard Morse.
  • The Ancestors and Descendants of the Rev. Daniel Morse by Colleen Morse Elliott.

  1. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  3. ^ Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  4. ^ Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  5. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  7. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  8. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  9. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  10. ^ Convict Records of Australia ( retrieved 1st February 2021, retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/charles-kerr)
  11. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th February 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1837
  12. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 3rd June 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/david-clarke
  13. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) COMPETITOR 1848. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1848Competitor.gif
  14. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  15. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  16. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  17. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2014, March 26) Winslow Morse. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Morse/Winslow_Carroll/USA.html
  18. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  19. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html
  20. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 7) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  21. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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