Show ContentsMorison History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Viking settlers in ancient Scotland were the ancestors of the first people to use the name Morison. It comes 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.

Early Origins of the Morison family

The surname Morison was first found in on the Isle of Lewis (Scottish Gaelic: Leòdhas), 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.

Early History of the Morison family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Morison research. Another 176 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 1600, 1950, 1893, 1961, 1620, 1683, 1660, 1790 and 1852 are included under the topic Early Morison History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Morison Spelling Variations

Translation and spelling were non-standardized practices in the Middle Ages, so scribes had only their ears to rely on. This was a practice of extremely limited efficiency, and spelling variations in names, even within a single document, were the result. Over the years, Morison has appeared Morrison, Morison, Morieson and many more.

Early Notables of the Morison family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan from early times was Robert Morison (1620-1683), a Scottish botanist and taxonomist; and Ruaraidh ('Roderick') Morrison; born in 1660, he is remembered as An Clarair Dall, 'the blind harper', and held the highest place of honor for players of the clarsach. His ballads and poetry still survive; the most famous of which is "Oran Mor Mhic Leoid,' which mourns the death of his patron...
Another 67 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Morison Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Morison Ranking

In the United States, the name Morison is the 14,230th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [1]

Ireland Migration of the Morison family to Ireland

Some of the Morison family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 59 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Morison migration to the United States +

The fertile east coast of what would become US and Canada was soon dotted with the farms of Scottish settlers. Some of them remained faithful to the crown and called themselves United Empire Loyalists, while others had the chance to pay back their old oppressors in the American War of Independence. That brave spirit lives on today in the highland games that dot North America in the summer. Passenger and immigration lists indicate that members of the Morison family came to North America quite early:

Morison Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
Morison Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Malcom Morison, aged 50, who arrived in North Carolina in 1812 [2]
  • Simon Morison, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1830 [2]
  • Thomas Morison, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1841 [2]
  • James Morison, who arrived in Tippecanoe County, Ind in 1842 [2]

Canada Morison migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Morison Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Cathn Morison, aged 22, who landed in Canada in 1812-1814
  • Matthew Morison, aged 20, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Perseus" in 1834
  • Hugh Morison, aged 19, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Perseus" in 1834
  • Ann Morison, aged 20, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Perseus" in 1834
  • Andrew Morison, aged 24, a carpenter, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Highlander" in 1834
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Morison migration to Australia +

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

Morison Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William Morison, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Forfarshire" in 1848 [3]

New Zealand Morison 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:

Morison Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • J. Morison, British settler travelling from Portsmouth aboard the ship "Duke of Portland" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 13th October 1851 [4]
  • R. Morison, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ulcoats" in 1864

West Indies Morison migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [5]
Morison Settlers in West Indies in the 18th Century
  • Kenneth Morison, who arrived in Barbados in 1745 [2]

Contemporary Notables of the name Morison (post 1700) +

  • Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison (1887-1976), American historian and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Eileen Patricia Augusta Fraser Morison (1915-2018), American stage and film actress and mezzo-soprano singer
  • Roderick Morison, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Sullivan County, 1879 [6]
  • Frank P. Morison, American Republican politician, Member of Maine State Senate 10th District, 1921-22 [6]
  • Patricia Morison (b. 1915), American stage and film actress and mezzo-soprano singer, best known for her leading role in the original production of Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate
  • William Morison (1843-1937), Scottish Presbyterian minister, writer and biographer
  • Mathew Morison, Scottish founder of Morison & Co., cabinet-makers and upholsterers in Ayr, Scotland c.1808
  • Hector Morison (1850-1939), Scottish stockbroker and Liberal Party politician, Member of Parliament for Hackney South (1912-1918)
  • Mary Morison (1771-1791), generally believed to be the "lovely Mary Morison", whom the poet Robert Burns admired as a girl of sixteen
  • Sir Thomas Brash Morison (1868-1945), Scottish politician and judge, Solicitor General for Scotland (1913-1920)
  • ... (Another 11 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

The Morison 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: Dun eistein
Motto Translation: Castle Eistein.

  1. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  2. 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)
  3. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) FORFARSHIRE 1848. Retrieved from
  4. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  6. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 25) . Retrieved from on Facebook