MacPherson History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The saga of the name MacPherson begins with the people of the Pictish clans. MacPherson was a name for a parson. The Gaelic forms of the names are Mac a' Phearsain and Mac a Phearsoin, which mean son of the parson. This was the surname of various ecclesiastical families in Scotland and is descended from a Chief of the great Clan Chattan ('tribe of the cats'), called Gille Chattan. This Chief can, in turn, be traced back to Feachar the Long, King of Lorn who died in 697 AD. The Clan's original territories were in Stratthnairn, Strathdearn and Badenoch from whence they long contested the leadership of the Clan Chattan with the MacKintoshes, who also claimed descent from the Gille Chattan through a female heiress.

Early Origins of the MacPherson family

The surname MacPherson was first found in Inverness, where they were hereditary keepers of the sacred stone of St. Catan, and early Chief of the Clan Chattan. The MacPhersons are sometimes called the Clan Mhuirich, 'the children of Muredach,' from an early Chief of the Clan, Duncan (the Parson) who was imprisoned with the Lord of the Isles after the Battle of Harlaw (1411).

Early History of the MacPherson family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacPherson research. Another 524 words (37 lines of text) covering the years 1490, 1528, 1600, 1645, 1672, 1689, 1688, 1715, 1745, 1745, 1784, 1932, 1675, 1700, 1776 and 1783 are included under the topic Early MacPherson History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

MacPherson Spelling Variations

Scribes in the Middle Ages did not have access to a set of spelling rules. They spelled according to sound, the result was a great number of spelling variations. In various documents, MacPherson has been spelled MacPherson, McPherson, MacPhersone, Mac a' Phearsoin (Gaelic) and many more.

Early Notables of the MacPherson family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was James MacPherson (1675-1700), the Scottish outlaw, famed for his Lament or Rant supposedly written on the eve of his execution, a version of which was rewritten by Robert Burns; and Colonel Duncan MacPherson, the Clan Chief, who commanded...
Another 45 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacPherson Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

MacPherson World Ranking

In the United States, the name MacPherson is the 4,869th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [1] However, in Canada, the name MacPherson is ranked the 470th most popular surname with an estimated 10,168 people with that name. [2] And in Australia, the name MacPherson is the 861st popular surname with an estimated 4,603 people with that name. [3] New Zealand ranks MacPherson as 529th with 1,316 people. [4]

United States MacPherson migration to the United States +

The cruelties suffered under the new government forced many to leave their ancient homeland for the freedom of the North American colonies. Those who arrived safely found land, freedom, and opportunity for the taking. These hardy settlers gave their strength and perseverance to the young nations that would become the United States and Canada. Immigration and passenger lists have shown many early immigrants bearing the name MacPherson:

MacPherson Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John MacPherson, who landed in New England in 1651-1652 [5]
  • Aeneas MacPherson, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1685
  • Eneas Macpherson, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1685 [5]
MacPherson Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • William Macpherson, who arrived in America in 1716 [5]
  • Donald Macpherson, who arrived in Virginia in 1727 [5]
  • Mary Macpherson, who landed in Massachusetts in 1729 [5]
  • James Macpherson, who arrived in Georgia in 1741 [5]
MacPherson Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William MacPherson, aged 36, who landed in Maryland in 1812 [5]
  • George Macpherson, who landed in Mississippi in 1847 [5]
  • Alexander Wentworth Macpherson, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1849 [5]
  • A Macpherson, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [5]
  • Cameron Macpherson, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [5]

Canada MacPherson migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

MacPherson Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • John Macpherson, aged 18, who arrived in Churchill Factory, Canada in 1813
  • John Macpherson, who arrived in Canada in 1815
  • Duncan MacPherson, who landed in Canada in 1820
  • Miss. Ellen Macpherson, aged 1 year & 3 days who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec but died on Grosse Isle on 21st May 1847 [6]

Australia MacPherson migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

MacPherson Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Duncan MacPherson, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Prince George" in 1838 [7]
  • Miss Sarah Macpherson, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Slains Castle" arriving in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 25th January 1851 [8]
  • John Macpherson, aged 40, a crofter, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Switzerland"
  • John Macpherson, aged 14, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Switzerland"
  • Christy Macpherson, aged 20, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Switzerland"
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand MacPherson migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

MacPherson Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. C. G. Macpherson, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Joseph Fletcher" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 30th September 1853 [9]
  • C J MacPherson, (b. 1859), aged 18, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Marlborough" arriving in Bluff, South Island, New Zealand on 4th November 1877 [9]

Contemporary Notables of the name MacPherson (post 1700) +

  • The Right Rev. David Bruce MacPherson (1940-2017), American third bishop of the Diocese of Western Louisiana in The Episcopal Church
  • Richard F. MacPherson (1930-2017), American head coach at the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 1971 to 1977 and at Syracuse University from 1981 to 1990, inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2009
  • Robert Duncan MacPherson (b. 1944), American mathematician awarded the Steele Prize for Seminal Contribution to Research in 2002
  • Earl Steele MacPherson (1891-1960), Ford engineer who developed the MacPherson strut in the 1940s
  • Sir William Alan Macpherson of Cluny (b. 1926), 6th of Blairgowrie, Scottish High Court judge and the 27th Hereditary Chief of Clan Macpherson
  • George MacPherson (1903-1981), Scottish rugby union footballer in the 1920s through the 1930s
  • Angus Ian MacPherson (b. 1968), Scottish former football player and manager
  • James Macpherson (1736-1796), Scottish writer, poet, literary collector and politician
  • Mr. Ewan Gordon Cameron MacPherson M.B.E., British Chairman for Royal Yachting Association Scotland, was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire on 8th June 2018, for voluntary service to Sailing [10]
  • Stewart MacPherson (1865-1941), English musician and author from Liverpool, best known for his numerous textbooks including Practical Harmony (1894), Form in Music (1908), and Melody and Harmony (1920)
  • ... (Another 7 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. John Macpherson, English Waiter from Great Crosby, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [11]

The MacPherson Motto +

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: Touch not the cat bot a glove
Motto Translation: Touch not the cat without a glove

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  5. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 40)
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) PRINCE GEORGE 1838. Retrieved from
  8. ^ The Argus News Paper 27th January 1852 Page 2 (Retrieved 26th April 2019). Retrieved from
  9. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  10. ^ "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62310, 4 July 2019 | London Gazette, The Gazette, June 2018,
  11. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 7) . Retrieved from on Facebook
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