Morrison Surname Genealogy

The Morrison surname derived ifrom the personal name Maurice that was
popular during the Middle Ages. Maurice, the name of some early
Christian saints, was the learned spelling of the name. Morice
or Morris was its more common form. The patronymic Morison or
Morrison (“son
of Morris”) cropped up as a surname in England, in Scotland, and in
The Morrison clan that was centred on Lewis in the Western Isles
derived their surname from the Gaelic name MacGilleMhoire;
and the Morrisons on the Isle of Man came from Myvorrey or Mylvorrey. MacMuiris was the Irish version of
Morris. But most Morrisons in Ireland were of Scots origin.

Morrison Resources on

Morrison Ancestry

Scotland. Morrisons, from
the Gaelic MacGilleMhoir, first
appeared in the islands of the

Outer Hebrides.
Legend has it that
they were descended from the son of a King of Norway who was
shipwrecked off
the shores of Lewis. He married the
heiress of Pabbay castle off Harris and it was from this union that the
Morrison clan was said to have begun.

Morrison hereditary judges or brieves on the isle of Lewis were
recognized as the chiefs of the clan until the early 1600’s. A
number of these
Morrisons were forced to flee at that time, crossing over to the
and settling at Durness in

to tradition,
Aodh Mac Thormoid married a daughter of the Bishop of Caithness who
bestowed on
the couple the whole of Durness. Aodh then brought over a colony
of about
60 families, mostly of his clan.”

In 1861 the Morrisons of Lewis numbered 1,400, while the Morrisons of
Harris amounted to 530. The
Morrisons on Harris may have been related to Lewis.
More likely, they descended from the bardic O’Muirgheasáin
who arrived there from county Donegal in the 1500’s. The
of Ruchdi in North Uist were descendants of the Morrisons of Pabbay in
and in 1965 were invested as the chiefs of “clan Morrison.”

Morrisons in Scotland have origins other than the Outer Hebrides.
The Morisons
of Bognie
in Aberdeenshire
have been in fact a leading Morrison family. This family first
gained their Bognie estate in 1635 and it remained in their hands for
the next three hundred years.

“A younger son James Morison achieved
wealth and notoriety in the 1820’s as the inventor and purveyor of Morison Pills. These were
purgatives that were very popular but often lethal when taken in
excessive quantities by the infirm or seriously ill.”

Morisons have been those of Dersay in Fife and those of Preston Grange
in East Lothian.

The first account of the Scottish Morrisons was undertaken in 1880 by
Captain Thomas and L.A. Morrison in their book The History of the Morison or Morrison

Morrison, like
similar patronymic names, has generally been a name of the
north of England. It first appeared as a surname – as Robert
Morisson – in the Yorkshire poll tax records of 1379.

Morrisons in the North.
The Moryson family of Chardwell in the West Ridings
of Yorkshire dates back to the 15th century. Thomas Morrison
moved south to Hertfordshire and his son Richard, a protege of Thomas
Cromwell, distinguished himself as a diplomat at the time of Henry

Another Moryson family may have come originally from Northumberland. They were in Lincolnshire by the early
1500’s. Thomas Moryson of Cadeby in
Lincolnshire was a member of the local gentry who held the lucrative
office of
Clerk of the Pipes. The family was
wealthy enough that his son Fynes could travel around Europe for six
years in
the 1590’s. He published an account of
these travels in 1617.

in England were of Scottish ancestry, such as Robert Morrison the
Protestant missionary
to China. He was born of a Scottish
father in Northumberland in 1782. John
Morrison, born in Alston in Cumberland in 1761, was also probably of
Scottish origin.

, begun by William Morrison of Bradford in the
1920’s, has been traditionally associated with the north of
England. Son
Ken Morrison, the
recent Chairman of Morrisons, was born in Bradford and makes his home

Morrisons in the South.
James Morrison, the 19th century businessman,
grew up in a small village in Hampshire. He came to London and
made his fortune as a trader on the principle of “small profits and
quick returns.” His son Alfred of Fonthill House in Wiltshire was
a noted art collector.

Isle of Man.
Morrison can be a Manx name. The Manx
names of Myvorrey and Mylvorrey,
meaning “the son of Mary’s servant,” would become Morrison. Patrick
Mylvorrey, for instance, was born around 1761 in the northwest of the
Isle of Man. The next Mylvorrey generation
became known as Morrisons.

Most Morrisons in Ireland are
to be found in Ulster, in particular in Antrim and county Down, and are
of Scots origin. The singer Van Morrison’s family roots are from
the Ulster Scots population that had settled in Belfast.

John Morrison was among those Scots Irish who fled after the siege of
Londonderry in 1689. Lieutenant Robert Morrison and Captain James
Morrison also took part in the battle and were declared traitors by
King James in 1689. They all emigrated, helping to found a new
Londonderry in New Hampshire in 1719.

Some Morrisons in Fermanagh are descendants of the Irish Morrisons on
Harris who fled the Western Isles after conflict with

America. Most of
the Morrisons who came to America in the 18th century were Scots
Irish. Their numbers included:

  • two Morrison brothers, Samuel and James, who settled in Drumore
    township in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania around 1718.
  • the Morrisons from Londonderry in Ireland who helped found the
    town of Londonderry in New Hampshire in 1719. The John Morrison
    who died there in 1736 was said to have been 108 years of age.
    The family home, Morrsion House, was built there
    in 1760 and still stands.
  • Samuel and Mercy Morrison of county Tyrone who came to Bucks
    county, Pennsylvania on the Sally of
    around 1740. Some of these Morrisons moved onto
    New York and Ohio.
  • four Morrison brothers who came to Pennsylvania from Ulster
    around 1740. William Morrison was an early
    settler in North Carolina.
  • and Nathaniel Morrison from the Isle of Lewis who came to
    Greenbrier, Virginia sometime in the 1750’s.

Morrisons from Scotland were early pioneers in the West:

  • born in
    Scotland, John Morrison emigrated to Connecticut around 1830 and
    learned carpentry there. He arrived in Oregon county in 1842 in
    the same wagon train as
    the other famous Oregon pioneers.
  • while George Morrison was a Scottish
    stonecutter in Colorado in the 1870’s who moved his family to what was
    to become Morrison, Colorado. His son Tom served as the town’s
    first mayor. His grandson Pete was a silent movie star who
    returned to the area to live following the end of his career in the
    late 1920’s.

Jacob Haight Morrison was born in upstate New York, but moved south at
some stage, married well, and acquired the Brunswick sugar plantation
in Pointe Coupee parish, Louisiana in 1856. This plantation was
to stay with his family until the 1930’s. Later Morrisons of the
family were to be prominent in local New Orleans politics.

Canada. Captain
John Morrison visited Nova Scotia as a military officer, sent to
destroy French fortifications at Louisburg in 1759. By that time
he had a family with six young children living in Peterborough, New
Hampshire. He was inspired by the lands of Nova Scotia and he
moved there, becoming one of the first settlers of Truro. There
was to follow the Scots Irish settlement of Londonderry nearby.

Morrison Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Morrison Names

Samuel Eliot Morison was an American historian noted for
his works of naval history.
Herbert Morrison was a British
Labor politician who was Deputy Prime Minister in the Labor
government of the 1940’s.
Jim Morrison was an American
cult singer of the 1960’s who died young in Paris at the age of twenty
Van Morrison is a
singer/songwriter from Northern Ireland.
Toni Morrison, born Chloe
Wofford, is a Nobel Prize-winning American novelist, author of works
such as Beloved.

Select Morrisons Today

  • 42,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Aberdeen)
  • 44,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 37,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)



Click here for return to front page

Leave a Reply