The name Morais is of Portuguese origin.
The English meaning of Morais is Moraes, Portugal
The surname Morais is a toponymic name, which means that it is derived from a geographical location. Toponymic names can be based on anything from the name of a town or village to the name of a forest or pasture. This is the largest category of family names, probably due to the geographical migrations to which the Jews from Spain and Portugal were subject after the Inquisition and the love they had for the country in which they had lived for many centuries.
There are many indicators that the name Morais may be of Jewish origin, emanating from the Jewish communities of Spain and Portugal.
When the Romans conquered the Jewish nation in 70 CE, much of the Jewish population was sent into exile throughout the Roman Empire. Many were sent to the Iberian Peninsula. The approximately 750,000 Jews living in Spain in the year 1492 were banished from the country by royal decree of Ferdinand and Isabella. The Jews of Portugal, were banished several years later. Reprieve from the banishment decrees was promised to those Jews who converted to Catholicism. Though some converted by choice, most of these New-Christian converts were called CONVERSOS or MARRANOS (a derogatory term for converts meaning pigs in Spanish), ANUSIM (meaning "coerced ones" in Hebrew) and CRYPTO-JEWS, as they secretly continued to practice the tenets of the Jewish faith.Our research has found that the family name Morais is cited with respect to Jews & Crypto-Jews in at least 9 bibliographical, documentary, or electronic references:
Bevis Marks is the Sephardic synagogue in London. It is over 300 years old and is the oldest still in use in Britain.The Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation of London has published several volumes of its records: they can be found in libraries such as the Cambridge University Library or the London Metropolitan Archive
The register gives us dates for the burials in the "Bethahaim Velho" or Old Cemetery. The dates are listed as per the Jewish calendar.
In this work Dan Rottenberg shows how to do a successful search for probing the memories of living relatives, by examining marriage licenses, gravestones, ship passenger lists, naturalization records, birth and death certificates, and other public documents, and by looking for clues in family traditions and customs. Supplementing the "how to" instructions is a guide to some 8,000 Jewish family names, giving the origins of the names, sources of information about each family, and the names of related families whose histories have been recorded. Other features included a country-by-country guide to tracing Jewish ancestors abroad, a list of Jewish family history books, and a guide to researching genealogy.
The product of many years of painstaking research by two late scholars, Richard D. Barnett and Philip Wright, this volume presents the texts or summaries of 1456 tombstone inscriptions of Jews who lived in Jamaica between 1663, when the British ousted the Spanish, and 1880, when systematic registration of deaths was introduced. Jewish families who had fled the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal settled in Jamaica in increasing numbers during that time. Ashkenazic Jews also settled there in the eighteenth century. The Jews played a significant part in developing the island's natural resources and its international trade. Featuring detailed indexes by name, date and language, The Jews of Jamaica is a valuable tool for the study of immigration to the Americas, the surnames, given names and genealogy of Sephardi Jews. The texts of the inscriptions, many of them in three languages (Hebrew, English and Portuguese or Spanish), are of cultural interest and sometimes refer to dramatic events in the lives of the Jewish residents of Jamaica during a turbulent period.
This register is from the manuscript record preserved in the Archives of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation of London named "Sahar Asamaim" transcribed, translated and edited by the late R.D. Barnett, with the assistance of Alan Rose, I.D. Duque and others; There is also a supplement with a record of circumcisions 1679-1699, marriages 1679-1689 and some female births 1679-1699, compiled by Miriam Rodrigues-Pereira. The register includes surnames of those circumsized as well as the names of their Godfathers & Godmothers.
When the Romans conquered the Jewish nation in 70 CE, much of the Jewish population was sent into exile throughout the Roman Empire. Many were sent to the Iberian peninsula. The area became known by the Hebrew word "Sepharad". The JEWS in SPAIN and PORTUGAL became known as "Sephardim" or and those things associated with the SEPHARDIM including names, customs, genealogy and religious rituals, became known as SEPHARDIC.
This book contains names of New Christians or Brazilians living in Brazil condemned by the Inquisition in the 17th and 18th centuries, as taken from the archives of Torre do Tombo in Lisbon. Many times details including date of birth, occupation, name of parents, age, and location of domicile are also included. The list also includes the names of the relatives of the victims. There are several cases in which many members of the same family were tortured and sentenced so some family lines may end here.
This publication contains a list of 517 Sephardic families punished by the inquisition in Portugal and Brazil.
Around the 12th century, surnames started to become common in Iberia. In Spain, where Arab-Jewish influence was significant, these new names retained their old original structure, so that many of the Jewish surnames were of Hebrew derivation. Others were directly related to geographical locations and were acquired due to the forced wanderings caused by exile and persecution. Other family names were a result of conversion, when the family accepted the name of their Christian sponsor. In many cases, the Portuguese Jews bear surnames of pure Iberian/Christian origin. Many names have been changed in the course of migration from country to country. In yet other cases "aliases", or totally new names, were adopted due to fear of persecution by the Inquisition.
A common variation of Morais is Moraes.