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Moore: family name history

Origin of the Surname

The Moore surname is of Irish origin, deriving from the Gaelic “O Mordha,” where “O” signifies “descendant of,” and “Mordha” translates to “proud” or “noble.”

Etymology and Meaning

Moore, from its Gaelic origins, can be translated as “the proud” or “the noble one,” indicating its bearers were of a respected or esteemed lineage.

Earliest Known Usage

The earliest known usage of the Moore surname can be traced back to the 11th century in Leix (now County Laois), where they held a family seat as the Chiefs of Leix.

Geographic Distribution

In the early days, the Moore family was primarily concentrated in the province of Leinster, specifically in County Laois. Today, the surname is widespread across Ireland and has seen significant distribution in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia due to migration patterns.

Original Geographic Location

The Moores originally resided in Leix (modern-day County Laois), where they held significant power as local chieftains.

Migration Patterns

Following the Great Famine of the mid-19th century, many Moores, like other Irish families, sought better fortunes overseas. They migrated mainly to the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, leading to the global presence of the surname today.

Historical Context

Notable Historical Events

The Moores played significant roles in several historical events, including the Irish Rebellion of 1641, where Rory O’Moore was one of the rebellion’s leaders.

Involvement in Key Moments in History

The Moores were also involved in key moments in American history, with the famous Confederate General Patrick Moore fighting in the American Civil War.

Notable Bearers of the Surname

Famous Individuals

Prominent individuals named Moore include Sir Thomas Moore, an Irish poet, singer, and songwriter best known for “The Minstrel Boy” and “The Last Rose of Summer.” Another notable Moore is Demi Moore, a successful Hollywood actress.

Influential Figures

Influential figures from the Moore lineage include Marianne Moore, an American modernist poet and writer, and Henry Moore, an English artist best known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures.

Variations of the Surname

Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of the Moore surname include More, Moor, O’More, O’Moore, and Muir, among others.

Regional Differences

The Moore surname has been anglicized differently across regions. In Scotland, for instance, it is often rendered as “Muir.”

Current Statistics and Distribution

Frequency and Global Distribution

The Moore surname is most common in the United States, followed by the United Kingdom and Ireland. Australia and Canada also have considerable numbers of Moores.

Changes Over Time

The distribution of the Moore surname has expanded over time due to migration, moving from its origin in Ireland to a globally recognized name.

Family Coat of Arms

The Moore family coat of arms features a silver shield with a black diagonal stripe, three gold rings, and a red hand at the crest, symbolizing a pledge of faith, sincerity, and justice.


  1. Edward MacLysaght (1985). The Surnames of Ireland. Dublin: Irish Academic Press.
  2. Patrick Hanks, Richard Coates, Peter McClure (2016). The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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