- This long-established surname, widespread both in England and Ireland, has two distinct possible sources as an English surname, and a further interpretation when found in the latter country. From an early date, Moss has been used in Ireland as a partial translation of the Old Gaelic "O'Maolmona", descendant of the devotee of Maolmona, from "O", grandson, male descendant of, with "maol", literally meaning "tonsured one", ut used here in the transferred sense of "devotee, follower", and the saint's name "Mona", from "Munnu". St. Munnu (died 635) served for a time on the Scottish island of Iona and then founded a monastery at Taghmon, County Wexford. The substitution of "Moss" for "(Maol)mona" is based on the erroneous translation of "mona" as "moorland, turf bog". The name is more correctly Anglicized as "Mulmona" and "Malmona" in Counties Fermanagh and Donegal. The christening was recorded in Ireland of Elizabeth, daughter of Michael and Joane Moss, at Holy Trinity (Christ Church), Cork, on September 14th 1661. Eleven bearers of the name appear on a "List of Irish Famine Immigrants arriving at the Port of New York (1846 - 1851)": among them Francis Moss, aged 21 yrs., who embarked from Liverpool on the ship "Cambridge" on May 8th 1846. The English surname is primarily topographical in origin from residence by a swamp or peat bog, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "mos", bog, morass, but it may occasionally derive from "Moss(e)", the normal medieval form of the Hebrew given name "Moses". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Almer Mosse, which was dated circa 1153, in the "Pipe Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King Stephen, known as "Count of Blois", 1135 - 1154. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.