Since the very ancient days of its first use, the name of morse has undergone many variations. Genealogists believe that there were two sources of the name, the Norman, which changed from Mosce to Moss, and the German-English. The earliest record is probably that of a Count de Mors in Germany in the thirteenth century. Later, in England, the de Mors became Mors until the final "e" was added, in about 1550. Other spellings believed to have derived from the name root, were: Morss, Morsse, Moor, de Moese, Mose, Mory, Morche, Moys and Meis, (the last five being of somewhat doubtful connection).
We find that Rev. Joshua Mors, an itinerant preacher, was the grandson of Joshua Morse, chaplin under Sir William Phipps (1689).
Perhaps the earliest historical mention of the name among the Romans is of one Hugo de Mors, who is believed to have been a knight because of the importance of a commission with which he was entrusted by his King, Edward III.
In the seventeenth century in England, the name of Henry Morse, the Martyr, is notable.
The Morses were among the landed gentry of Great Britain, having settled in Suffolk and Wiltshire as early as 1400 and spread to Essex County about 1586.
It is noted that their estates generally have been near a river or the sea, as many Morses were ship owners. merchant adventurers, exporters, and the growers of wool for trade. They took an active part in religious matters, a great number of them (besides those belonging to the clergy) being church benefactors, and some the owners and builders of churches. The various branches of the family produced numerous lawyers, authors, and teachers also. Much honorable mention of them is found in the parish registers, state papers, records of the British Museum, and original documents.
Notable in the annals of Great Britain, they have done honor to their name in America as well, as statesmen, soldiers, professional men, and landowners from a very early date, some of them having bought their land directly from the Indians. The first Morse settlers in this country were as follows:
Samuel (1585-1654) - emigrated on the "Increase" to New England in 1638 and settled at Dedham, (founder and first treasurer of Dedham).
Joseph - emigrated in 1635 and settled at Ipswich.
Anthony and William (brothers) - emigrated from Marlborough, Wiltshire, in the "James", to New England in 1635 and settled at Newbury.
Robert (another brother) - arrived at Boston prior to 1644 and moved to New Jersey in 1667.
John - settled in New Haven in 1639 and moved to Wallingford, Conn., in 1670.
Joseph (1619-91) - emigrated in the "Elizabeth", and settled at Watertown.
Joseph (Captain) - settled at Bogistow, Mass., about 1670.
Although Samuel of Dedham and Joseph of Ipswich were brothers and William and Anthony of Newbury were brothers, there is some doubt as to the relationship of the two branches.
It is thought that Samuel Morse named Dedham after his home in England.
The famous Witch House (now demolished) at Newbury, originally a garrison against the Indians, was inhabited, about 1635, by William Morse (brother of Anthony) and his wife, and was the scene of many cases of supposed witchcraft.
A family historian traces the line of one Susan Toy Morse, of Sunbury, Conn., (1905), back through the Morses of Nova Scotia, the Churches, and the Warrens, to Richard Warren of the "Mayflower"; and, through the Phinneys, to Thomas Rogers of the "Mayflower".
Throughout history, the Morses have been famed for their religious zeal, loyalty, generosity, and patriotism. Especially notable are:
Philemon Charles Morse, (Master Commandant of the United States Navy in 1808, who served in the War of 1812).
Elijah Adams Morse (1847-98) - temperance leader, soldier, and representative - born in South Bend, Ind., later moving to Massachusetts. Son of the Fourth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in 1861, served under General B. F. Butler in Virginia and under General Banks in Louisiana.
Henry Bogg Morse (1836-74) - soldier - Made Captain, Major, and Lieutenant-Colonel. Served in Battle of Bisland, :Louisiana. Led charge on Port Hudson. Became Chief Quartermaster 19th Army Corps. United States Revenue Collector. State Government Probate Judge. Circuit Court Judge for six years.
Nathan Morse - who moved from New Jersey to New Orleans in 1805. Served with Captain Ogden's Troop of Horse, and took part in the Battle of New Orleans (of which city he was the recorder).
Among the men of note in the annals of America are:
Jedidiah Morse (1761- ) - clergyman and geographer - Born at Woodstock, Conn. Son of Deacon Jedidiah and Sarah Child Morse. Descended five generations from Anthony Morse, who emigrated in 1635.
Sidney Edward Morse (1794-1871) - author and editor. Born at Charlestown, Mass. Son of Rev. Jedidiah and Elizabeth A. Breese Morse.
Samuel Finlay Breese Morse (1791-1872) - famous inventor, also poet, artist, and author. Born at Charlestown, Mass. Son of Rev. Jedidiah and Elizabeth A. Breese Morse. Descended from John Morse who emigrated to Newbury, in 1635.
Isaac Edward Morse (1809- ) - Lawyer and representative - Born at St. Martinsville, In. Son of Nathan and Martha Nichols Morse. Descended from Anthony of Newbury. Attorney-General of Louisiana 1851. Minister to New Granada (now Columbia, S.A.) 1856.
Henry Dutton Morse (1826-88) - Boston Diamond Cutter.
Edward Sylvester Morse (1836- ) - naturalist and author - Born in Portland, Maine. Son of Jonathan K. and Jane S. Becket Morse. Descended from Anthony Morse of Newbury.
John Torrey Morse (1846- ) - author and lawyer - Born in Boston. Son of John T. and Lucy Cabot Jackson Morse. Descended from Samuel Morse who settled at Ipswich, about 1829, and from Edward Jackson, Captain of the Colonial Forces, and Jonathan Jackson, first U.S. Marshall in Massachusetts District.
Anson Daniel Morse (1846- ) - educator and author - Born at Cambridge, Vt. Son of Harmon and Elizabeth Buck Morse.
Charles Henry Morse (1853- ) - organist, music teacher, author. Born at Bradford, Mass. Son of Eben D. and Mary Blaisdell Morse. Descended nine generations from Anthony of Newbury.
Leopold Morse - born in Wachenheim, Bavaria. Joined his brother in New Hampshire, in 1848 and moved to Boston the following year.
Henry Woolson Morse (1858-97) - artist and composer. Born at Charlestown, Mass. Author of many light operas for Francis Wilson de Wolf Hopper.
Abner Morse (1893- ) - clergy, genealogist, and author - Born at Medway, Mass. Son of Abner and Millie Leland Morse. Descended from Captain Joseph Morse of Bogistow, Mass.
Harmon Northrup Morse - chemist of Baltimore, Md. Born at Cambridge, Vt. Associate professor of chemistry and sub-director of chemical laboratory in chemistry at Amherst.
Princeton Morse - noted surgeon residing in Washington, D.C.
The coat of arms of one branch of the family descended from Samuel Morse of Dedham, Mass. are described thus:
Arms: Argent, a battle-axe in pale proper between three pellets.
Crest: Two battle-axes in saltire proper banded with chaplet of roses.