Introduction to the Morphew/Murphy Story – J


Introduction to the Morphew/Murphy Story – J. R. Murphy

                                    1st Edition, January 1971

                                    2nd Edition, April 2001; Intro revised 4 June 2002




     Welcome to the history of the Morphew family.  This website is for those who want to know more about your family history or who are (or want to be) family history sleuths.   This is our American heritage and it is very special.  From time to time, new material will be added to this history.  Check each chapter to see if a new date is posted.


     You will see that much more work is needed.  If you have any information or corrections, please do share it with all of us. 

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Highly recommended is Larry Morphew’s message board for Morphews at




I have not had time to research this yet, so Arlie Morphew becomes our source in his “History and Genealogy of the Morphew Family,” published January 1970.   The name of Morphew is said to derive from the name, “Mauffey” or “Mauffee,” which is from the Province of Normany, France.   Sometime from Norman Conquest beginning 1078 to the migration of French Hugeunots in 1562, Morphew ancestors immigrated to England, with the exact surname spelling of “Morphew” first appearing in 1579.  England appears to be the only old world country for the Morphew surname to be found (i.e. not Ireland).   On the other hand, nothing explains the origin of  “ew” in “Morphew.”




            Most Morphews (90%+) in the U.S. descend from one single line, at least those who retained the spelling.   An unknown number changed the surname to Murphy or Murphey, some soon after they immigrated.  The earliest known ancestor is Joseph (or James) Morphew, who married Mary Burke about 1749 or so.  Their earliest back trail can be followed into southwestern Virginia, but the trail disappears there before leading to the Atlantic shoreline.   So far, Joseph (or James) Morphew does not connect with anyone in English records.  This opens the possibility of an earlier generation in America.  


Sometime ago, an unknown source(s) stated the parents to be John Morphew and his wife, Mary White, but John’s will never mentioned a Joseph or James.  Furthermore, Mary White was not John Morphew’s wife, but was his sister-in-law.  This error indicates to me that the information was NOT someone’s badly needed family record, but a researcher’s incorrect conclusion.  However, it is possible the back trail may lead to an unknown brother of John Morphew, somewhere along the Virginia seacoast or even Maryland.


 If one connects the few dots on the earliest trail of Joseph (or James) Morphew from North Carolina into southwestern Virginia, these dots seem to follow “The Great Road” which ran from Philadelphia into north-central North Carolina.   This very early road was probably the only land route for early settlers traveling to North Carolina in the 1750-1760’s.  Could our gang have come from Pennsylvania?  If so, where?




My thanks go out to many individuals who have contributed to the Morphew Story, which include maternal lines.   Special thanks goes out to Arlie C. Morphew who pioneered the first real search for Morphew origins and sent letters to me with valuable information.   I will never forget our combined trip and search to North Carolina for clues.  Also profound appreciation goes out to Donna Alumbaugh (Allumbaugh, Morphew, Green, + much encouragement), Cindy Lowe (Eggers), Pat Frunzi (Hagan, Wilcoxson), Gary Tharp (Hogan, Eggers, Tatum, Morphew), Jerald Hemphill (Jones), Larry Morphew, C. Grace Morphew, and so many others who helped to shape the family histories, and technical assistance from Pat Murphy.   I wish to encourage the newest generation of history buffs to continue this search both now and in the future.




Be sure to not miss several special memories.  Mrs. Howard Jones wrote about her father, Jordan “Cal” Murphy, and in her last few lines tells us how precious “family” is to her.  James Wilson Murphy gave us keen-eyed descriptions for a number of relatives and helps us better understand them and the times they lived.   Letters by Sarah Yates and her sister, Jemima Yates Phillip Brown, give us a special window view into the Wilcockson world of Indians and pioneers.


     Efforts have been made to avoid copyrights of others and should there be a valid complaint, I will withdraw that material.