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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: Irish, Scottish-Alt, Scottish

Where did the Scottish Morrison family come from? What is the Scottish Morrison family crest and coat of arms? When did the Morrison family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Morrison family history?

The roots of the Morrison family name are in ancient Scotland with the Viking settlers. Morrison was derived from the name Maurice. This comes from the Latin personal name Mauritius, which means dark. Numerous legends exist for the origins of this great Scottish Clan. One old tale holds that the Clan's Norse forbears were shipwrecked off the Isle of Lewis, and saved themselves by clinging to driftwood; hence the Clan Plant badge is driftwood. Another branch claims descent from the O'Muircheasain bards of the outer Hebrides. This latter legend is not inconsistent with a possible shipwreck of the Norsemen, as many of the bardic missionaries from Ireland were of Norse descent. Others claim the Clan is descended from King Somerled, King of the Isles, who died in 1164. Again, this is compatible with history, as Somerled was descended from the Norse Kings of Ireland and gave origin to many of the more notable Scottish Clans.

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Sound and intuition were the main things that scribes in the Middle Ages relied on when spelling and translating names. Since those factors varied, so did the spelling of the names. Spelling variations of the name Morrison include Morrison, Morison, Morieson and many more.

First found in on the Isle of Lewis (Scottish Gaelic: Ledhas), where the first Clan chiefs once held the hereditary office of Judges or Brieves of Lewis. They also had their stronghold in the Tigh Mor' or 'big house,' which was near Habost in Ness on the extreme northern tip of Lewis. Their claim of descent from King Somerled is also substantiated by their descent through Ceadhain Mac Mhuirich. A Chief of a junior branch of the Donalds, he was descended from Somerled, and through Gillemoire, a brother of Leod (progenitor of the MacLeods) - both were royal princes of the Norse Empire of the Isle of Man and the Hebrides.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Morrison research. Another 351 words(25 lines of text) covering the years 1600, 1950, 1893, 1961, 1620, 1683, 1660, 1790 and 1852 are included under the topic Early Morrison History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 253 words(18 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Morrison Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Morrison family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 105 words(8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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In North America, the monarchy was thousands of miles away and Scots were free to settle on their own land and practice their own beliefs. The American War of Independence provided an opportunity for these settlers to pay back the English monarchy and forge a new nation. Recently, this heritage has survived through North American highland games and clan societies. Early North American immigration and passenger lists have revealed a number of people bearing the name Morrison or a variant listed above:

Morrison Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Henry Morrison, who landed in Virginia in 1648
  • Francis Morrison settled in Virginia in 1650
  • Donald Morrison, who landed in New Jersey in 1685

Morrison Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Hannah Morrison, who landed in North Carolina in 1701
  • Jane Morrison, who landed in New England in 1738
  • Charles Morrison, who landed in Virginia in 1760
  • Darby Morrison, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1766
  • Daniel Morrison who settled in Boston in 1767


Morrison Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Benjamin Morrison, aged 23, arrived in New York in 1804
  • Daniel Morrison, aged 33, arrived in New York in 1804
  • John Morrison, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1807
  • Martha Morrison, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1811
  • Elizabeth Morrison, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1811


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  • Marion Michael Morrison (1907-1979), Academy Award-winning American film actor better known as John Wayne
  • James Douglas "Jim" Morrison (1943-1971), American poet, singer, member of rock band "the Doors"
  • Jeanette Helen Morrison (1927-2004), original name of Janet Leigh, Academy Award-nominated and Golden Globe-winning American actress, probably best known for her role in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho"
  • Toni Chloe Anthony Morrison (b. 1931), American author and one of the most prominent authors in world literature, having won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 for her novel "Beloved" and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993 for her collected works
  • John H. Morrison (b. 1933), former President of the Association of American Rhodes Scholars
  • Dan "Danny" Morrison (b. 1974), American wrestler
  • Tommy David Morrison (1969-2013), American heavyweight boxer and a former World Boxing Organization champion
  • Robert Morrison (1782-1834), Scottish scholar
  • George Ivan "Van" Morrison OBE (b. 1945), Northern Irish rock singer, winner of six Grammy Awards, and was inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame
  • George Pitt Morrison (1861-1946), Australian painter and engraver

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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Dun eistein
Motto Translation: Castle Eistein.

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Morrison Clan Badge
Morrison Clan Badge

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A clan is a social group made up of a number of distinct branch-families that actually descended from, or accepted themselves as descendants of, a common ancestor. The word clan means simply children. The idea of the clan as a community is necessarily based around this idea of heredity and is most often ruled according to a patriarchal structure. For instance, the clan chief represented the hereditary "parent" of the entire clan. The most prominent example of this form of society is the Scottish Clan system...

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Septs of the Distinguished Name Morrison
Brieve, Gillmar, Gillmer, Gillmoor, Gillmoore, Gillmor, Gillmore, Gillmour, Gilmar, Gilmer, Gilmoor, Gilmoore, Gilmor, Gilmore, Gilmour, Juddes, Jude, Judes, Judge, Judges, Juge, Kilmore, MacBrieve, MacGhilleMhoire, McGhilleMhoire, Morieson, Morison, Morisson, Morrieson, Morrison, Morrisson, Morson and more.

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  1. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  2. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  3. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  4. Browne, James. The History of Scotland it's Highlands, Regiments and Clans 8 Volumes. Edinburgh: Francis A Niccolls & Co, 1909. Print.
  5. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  6. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  7. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  8. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Socts Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Modern Application of the Art of Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  9. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  10. Skene, William Forbes Edition. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots and Other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867. Print.
  11. ...

The Morrison Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Morrison Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 7 September 2014 at 08:30.

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