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Moreland's of the World

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The Ancient History of the Distinguished Surname MORELAND

The distinguished surname Moreland is one of the most notable Anglo/Saxon surnames, and its historical trail has emerged from the mists of time to become an influential surname of the middle ages and of the present day.

In an in-depth research of such ancient manuscripts as the Domesday Book compiled in 1086 A.D., by Duke William of Normandy, the Ragman Rolls (1291 - 1296) collected by King Edward I of England, the Curia Regis Rolls, The Pipe Rolls, the Hearth Rolls, parish registers, baptismals, tax records and other ancient documents, researchers found the first record of the name Moreland in Westmoreland where they were seated from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.

Confusing to most, we found many different spellings in the archives researched. Although your name, Moreland, occurred in many manuscripts, from time to time the surname was often spelt Morland, Morley, Moorland, Morthland, Morlay, Merley, and these changes in spelling frequently occurred, even between father and son. There is one record, a father and eight sons. In the graveyard where they are buried, all nine have different spellings of their surnames. Many reasons were revealed for these spelling variations but mainly church officials and sccribes spelt the name as it was told to them.

The family name Moreland is one of the most notable of the ancient Ancient Anglo/Saxon race. This founding race of England, a fair skinned people led by General / Comanders Hengist and Horsa, settled in Kent from about the year 400 AD. The Angles, on the other hand, occupied the eastern coast.

The Anglo/Saxon five century domination of English society was an uncertain time, and the nation divided into five separate kingdoms, a high king being elected as supreme ruler.

By 1066, King Harold came to the throne of England which was enjoying reasonable peace and prosperity. However, the Norman invasion from France and their victory at the Battle of Hastings, found many of the vanquished Saxon land owners to be forfeited their land by Duke William and his invading nobles. They became oppressed under Norman rule, and some moved northward to the midlands, Lancashire and Yorkshire, even into Scotland.

The family name Moreland emerged as a notable English family name in the County of Westmoreland where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated with manor and estates in that shire. This family name derives from the district of Morland from the borders of Westmoreland and Cumberland and were the ancient Lords of Morland or Morthland. They lost much of their property to the stinklands about the year 1100. There may also be a connection of this name to the notorious Peter De Mauley, esquire to King Richard 1st, who, about 1190, was assigned the task of the murder of Prince Arthur, and who received vast grants of land in the west country for his services to the King. The family name moved South to Berkshire, Kent, Buckingham, Sussex, and another branch who settled in Lancashire elected to use the name Morley. Sir Samuel Morland, alias Morley, held estates at Southamstede Banaster in Berkshire, was the scion of the branch of the family, and Richard Morley of Morley in Lancashire was the scion of the Morleys. Notable amongst the family at this time was Morland of Westmoreland.

For the next two or three centuries the surname Moreland flourished and played a significant role in the political development of England. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries England was savaged by religious and political conflict. Puritanism, Catholicism, Royalist and Parliamentary forces shed much blood. Many families were freely 'encouraged' to migrate to Ireland, or to the 'colonies'. Some were rewarded with grants of lands, others were banished.

In Ireland, settlers became known as the 'Adventurers for land in Ireland'. These Protestant settlers undertook to maintain the protestant faith. There is no evidence that the family name migrated to Ireland, but this does not preclude the possibility of their scattered migration to that country.

Meanwhile the New World beckoned and migration continued, some voluntarily from Ireland, but mostly directly from England or Scotland, their home territories. Some clans and families even moved to the European continent.

Kinsmen of the family name Moreland were amongst the many who sailed aboard the armada of small sailing ships known as the 'White Sails' which plied the stormy Atlantic. These overcrowded ships were pestilence ridden, sometimes 30% to 40% of the passenger list never reaching their destination, their numbers reduced by many diseases and the elements, and many were buried at sea.

Principal amongst the settlers which could be considered a kinsman of the surname Moreland, or a variable spelling of that family name was Thomas Morland settled in Virginia in 1650; Eleanor Morland with her husband settled in Virginia in 1774; Robert Morland settled in Boston in 1820; Ralph and Catherine Morley settled in Salem in 1630; Isabella Morley settled with her husband in Boston in 1767; Robert Morley settled in Virginia in 1653; Frederick, John, Michael, Thomas and William Morley all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860.

The trek from the port of entry was also arduous and many joined the wagon trains to the prairies or to the West Coast. During the American War of Independence, many loyalists made their way north to Canada about 1790, and become known as the United Empire Loyalists.

20th Century notables of this surname, Moreland, include many distinguished persons Robert Morley, British Actor; Grace Morley, American Art Historian; Felix Morley, American Journalist; Robert Morlan, American Political Scientist.

This page was written by Stephen Moreland whom you can contact at