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Irish name Maurice

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  • Xenia Stanford
    After writing about Maurice Patrick Shea, I was asked why Maurice is a common name in Ireland. I thought I should give the answer here in case others are
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 17, 2002
      After writing about Maurice Patrick Shea, I was asked why Maurice is a
      common name in Ireland.

      I thought I should give the answer here in case others are interested.

      The term originated in Latin as a noun Maurus meaning "a Moor" and as an
      adjective Mauritius meaning "of Moorish descent, dark or swarthy".

      Other forms of the name are found as Marus, Morice, Morrice, Morys, Moreys
      and Morris.

      The name Maurice with this spelling was introduced to the British Isles by
      the Norman invasion of 1066. The name experienced another surge in
      popularity with the escape of the Huguenots to the British Isles,
      particularly in 1572 after the St. Bartholomew Day Massacre and 1685 after
      the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Many of these became Anglicized as

      However, the influence of the Huguenots was not the reason for the use of
      the name in either Wales or Ireland, since this came directly from Normandy
      to Wales and from Wales to Ireland. In most of cases Wales retained the
      original form of the Norman spelling and this was the form carried over to
      Ireland about a hundred years after the Norman invasion.

      The reason for this is that one of the men who came over with William the
      Conqueror was Walter. Walter was given an estate in Carew, near Pembrooke,
      Wales for his efforts. Walter had a son named Gerald and in the Norman
      patronymic naming tradition (patronymic means using given name of father as
      a distinguishing feature - thus becoming a "surname" though then not a
      "family name" as it changed each generation) this son was known as Gerald
      Fitz Walter or FitzWalter. (Another note - "fitz" comes from "fils" meaning
      "son of" and is not always, or even usually as some would have you believe,
      used to indicate illegitimacy. This myth probably originated from the use of
      "Fils de Roi" (French for son of the King) or FitzRoy by illegitimate sons
      of the King who may have wanted to indicate their descendent from the
      King ).

      Gerald married a Welsh "princess" Nesta (I don't know that she was a
      daughter of a King - however, probably this term was used because she was
      the descendant of a family with an estate in Wales) and they had four sons.
      I don't know the name or the whereabouts of one son but I did find what
      happened to William, David and Maurice.

      1. David FitzGerald became the bishop of St. Davids in Wales.
      2. William FitzGerald must have been the oldest because he was the one who
      received the title of the estate at Carew.
      3. Thus Maurice FitzGerald having to seek his own fortune was one of the
      original British invaders of Ireland in 1169.

      He was joined by the sons of Bishop David FitzGerald, who became the Barons
      of Brownsford in County Kilkenny. However, the name "Maurice" was not as
      commonly used by these Barons as it was among the descendants of Maurice

      Maurice FitzGerald established his estate in the territory of Offelan (now
      in County Kildare) and had six sons who all became FitzMaurice though some
      of his grandsons became Geraldines (the - ine ending is another patronymic
      form showing descent from grandfather Gerald - it is equivalent to the
      Gaelic O' meaning descendant of - i.e. denotes further back ancestry than
      Mc/Mac or Fitz, which means "son of").

      Four of these sons left issue in Ireland:
      1. Thomas, ancestor of the Geraldines of Desmond;
      2. Gerald, ancestor of the Kildare Geraldines;
      3. Maurice, ancestor of the Geraldine barons of Burnchurch in County
      Kilkenny, some of whose descendants style themselves Barron;
      4. Robert who settled on lands in County Kerry and whose great-grandson
      Maurice is the ancestor of the Kerry FitzMaurices.

      Thus the patronymic Maurice was particularly common in County Kerry, Ireland
      where it was also often given as a "first" name. (Yes, there were Maurice
      FitzMaurices!) There are also Kildare and Kilkenny Maurices who were given
      this name from the same root. Of course, from these early times the
      population spead and with it the name Maurice surfaced elsewhere in the
      Ireland - usually retaining the Norman spelling rather than the later
      Anglicized form.

      I hope this answers the question and also is of some interest to the Irish
      people on this list.

      à bientôt,

      Xenia Stanford (president@...)
      A.G.E. Ancestree Genealogical Enterprises
      Column: "Nos Racines Francaise" http://globalgazette.net/
      Local book and magazine sales: http://www.knowmap.com/age/
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      Phone: (403) 295-3490; Fax: (403) 274-0564

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