Morrison Clan

Morrison Clan Crest: From the waves of the sea, a green mount and castellated wall, and issuing therefrom a cubit arm the hand grasping a dagger.

Morrison Clan Motto: Teaghlach Phabbay (Family of Pabbay).

History of Clan Morrison:
There is a tradition that the ancestor of this Clan was a Norse Prince called Gilmhoire or Gillemorrie, possibly a half-brother of Leod, ancestor of Clan Macleod, who was shipwrecked and came ashore on the Island of Lewis on a piece of driftwood. Another version has him as a member of the O'Muirgheasains of Donegal, Keepers of the Holy Records of St Columba.

The tradition thereafter is that Gilmhoire married the heiress of Clan Gow, which held the Island and Castle of Pabbay, off Lewis. The marriage also brought his descendants  the Hereditary Brieveship (Judges of the Island) of Lewis, binding them to the Lords of the Isles, but alienating them to the Lewis Macaulays. When the power of the Lords of the Isles was finally undermined by the Crown in 1493, a state of lawlessness prevailed throughout the Hebrides for over two centuries. The outcome of this was that in their conflict with Clan Macaulay and Clan MacLeod, which had appealed to James VI, Letters of Fire and Sword were issued and the Morrison Chief and six of his nearest relatives were murdered. After this many of the surviving Morrison clansfolk relocated to Caithness on the Scottish mainland, to other islands such as Islay, and abroad.

No direct connection has been found between the Morrisons of Lewis and the Morrisons of Bognie in Aberdeenshire, who seemingly originate from a Norman of the name Maurice, which means “dark skinned.”

The Clan Morrison Society was formed in 1909. In 1961, Dr John Morrison of Ruchdi (1884-1974), a descendant of the Morrisons of Pabbay, was recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms as Chief of Clan Morrison. His son, Dr Iain Morrison, succeeded him in 1974.

Robert Morrison (1782-1834) was born at Morpeth, near Jedburgh, and sent to Canton by the London Missionary Society. In 1818, he established the Anglo-Chinese College in Malacca.
In 1963, the Bowmore Distillery on Islay was acquired by Stanley P. Morrison who went on to
develop and market one of the most popular best-selling Islay single malt whiskies.

Surname distribution in Scotland: The Morrison name is most commonly found in the Outer Hebrides (the major islands include Lewis and Harris, North Uist, South Uist, Benbecula and Barra), Aberdeenshire (includes Kincardinshire and part of Banffshire, Aberdeen City and Moray (includes large parts of historic Banffshire) and Highland Highland which incorporates the historic counties of Caithness, Inverness-shire, Nairnshire, Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland and small parts of Morayshire and Argyllshire.)

Places of Interest: Rodel. Isle of Harris. The Chief of the Morrisons was imprisoned here during the 16th century, but escaped. Dun Eistean, Isle of Lewis. Former Seat of the Morrison Chief.

Associated family names (Septs): Brieve, Gilmore, Gilmour, Judge, MacBrieve, Morison, Morris.

Clan Morrison membership certificates.