"North African, Berber, one of the race dwelling in Barbary," late 14c., from Old French More, from Medieval Latin Morus, from Latin Maurus "inhabitant of Mauretania" (Roman northwest Africa, a region now corresponding to northern Algeria and Morocco), from Greek Mauros, perhaps a native name, or else cognate with mauros "black" (but this adjective only appears in late Greek and may as well be from the people's name as the reverse).
Also applied to the Arabic conquerors of Spain. Being a dark people in relation to Europeans, their name in the Middle Ages was a synonym for "Negro;" later (16c.-17c.); being the nearest Muslims to Western Europe, it was used indiscriminately of Muslims (Persians, Arabs, etc.) but especially those in India. Cognate with Dutch Moor, German Mohr, Danish Maurer, Spanish Moro, Italian Moro. Related: Mooress.
surname, from the many Mortons on the map of England, literally "moor or marsh settlement." Morton's Fork (1759) is in reference to John Morton (c. 1420-1500), archbishop of Canterbury, who levied forced loans under Henry VII by arguing the obviously rich could afford to pay and those who were not were living frugally and thus had savings and could pay, too.