Morrison Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Morrison Meaning
The Morrison surname derived from 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, Morrison 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

Morrisons in the Outer Hebrides.  The Morrisons of Lewis established a fortress named Dun Eistein on the northern tip of
the island. They gave rise to ten generations of hereditary judges or brieves
who were well briefed in Gaelic law and held sway from their seat at
Habost in
Ness near the Butt of Lewis.

Their power
was broken in 1616 when Hutcheon Morrison confessed on his deathbed to
the natural father of Torquil MacLeod.
Torquil overcame the MacLeods and then turned on his allies, the
Morrisons, and drove them from their lands.

One tradition has it that the line of brieves was originally descended
from the Morrison heiress of legend and the Macdonald of Ardnamurchan
she had married
in the 1340’s.  The Morrisons of Harris
laid claim to be of this original Morrison line.  Their
seat was at Pabbay, a small island off
the coast of Harris.  It has been from
these Morrisons of Pabbay that the current Morrison clan chief descends. 

The Morisons of Bognie.  Alexander Morison
had obtained the lands of Bognie in Aberdeenshire in 1635.
His son George built Bognie House and lived
there in some splendor with his wife the Viscountess Frendraught:

household of Bognie, besides the Laird and Viscountess, consisted of
their son
and two daughters – Barbara Morison, a sister of the laird’s; Elizabeth
his niece; and Christian Ramsay, a niece of the lady’s.

There was also a chaplain, a steward, the
laird’s page, a man cook, a footman, and a groom; likewise, a farm
grieve, five
male and three female servants – in all twenty-three persons, which
the importance and affluence of the family at the close of the 17th

Bognie House was a
tall four storey rectangular unvaulted palatial structure, with
gables and possibly corner turrets. The window facings appeared to have
been removed for use elsewhere, leaving only the relieving arches.  It is just a ruin today.

is a faded memorial panel to George Morison who died in 1699 in
Forgue parish churchyard.

Mylvorrey to Morrison in the Isle of Man.  Patrick Mylvorrey was born about 1761 in Ballaugh and he and his family lived at Glenshoggill
near Ballaugh as farmers and farm laborers.  When Patrick married
his name
was recorded as Morrison.  His children
and were baptized variously as Mylvorrey and Morrison between
1780’s and the 1820’s.   The next
generation generally became known as Morrisons.

grandson William moved to Santon in the south east of the Isle
of Man.  It was William’s grandson
William Ernest Morrison who migrated to Australia in 1910.

Morrison House in Londonderry, New Hampshire.  The
Morrison House is one of the few pre-revolutionary
homes existing in Londonderry and it is considered to be a landmark.  It was originally owned by the Morrison
family who had escaped Ireland and come to Londonderry (the name of
their home
town back in Ireland).

The Morrison
House was originally built on Rockingham Road in Londonderry in 1760.  Its many original features included a large
center chimney fireplace with beehive ovens and brick hearth, Indian
a borning room, wide pine floors, nine over six pane windows, feathered
and 18th century door latches.  Now
completely restored, the Morrison House is a fine example of an 18th
farmhouse as it would have appeared in the mid-19th century.

William Morrison, Early North Carolina Settler.  William Morrison
was one of four brothers who left Ulster for Pennsylvania with their
James in 1730. William and brother Hugh
settled in Chester county where William secured the plum job of tax
collector.  The other brothers, Andrew and
James, were to
be found in Lancaster county, probably Drumore township.

William – and possibly one of his brothers –
moved onto North Carolina in the early 1750’s.
He was recorded as being among the first settlers of what was to
known as the Fourth Creek Settlement.  He
built a mill on his land in 1752 and lived on for another nineteen
years, dying
there at the age of sixty seven in 1771.

Morrisons – Father and Son.  Brought up
in Bradford, William Morrison started selling butter and eggs there on a
wholesale basis in 1899.  Shortly
afterwards he opened a stall.   By the
1920’s his business had flourished enough to allow him to open his own
stores offering counter service.  The
operation remained a small, Bradford-area focused business throughout
lifetime, the company’s warehouse being in the garage behind the
family’s home.

Morrison had six children, the youngest of
whom, Ken, the only boy, was born when Morrison was already 57 years
old.  In 1950, with his health failing,
Morrison offered the family business to Ken after he had just joined

Ken Morrison approached the
grocer’s trade with a new perspective.
Rather than the small, urban center shops run by his father,
saw the future in larger-scale supermarkets, particularly in ex-urban
suburban locations.  At the same time,
improvements in packaging and increasing branding of grocery products
occurring, coupled with a growing trend toward self-service shopping.  Taking over as company chairman in 1956, Ken
Morrison steered the family company into the newly developing
industry, placing prices on all of its goods and adding checkout lines,
a first
for the Bradford area.

Morrison next
turned his attention to opening new stores.
In 1962, he bought an abandoned theater in Bradford and
converted it
into a supermarket.  Once transformed,
the theater offered some 5,000 square feet of retail space and a
parking lot for
the company’s increasingly mobile customers.
The success of that store encouraged Morrison to begin opening
stores.  In 1967, the company backed its
expansion with a public offering on the London Stock Exchange.

Morrison’s focus remained on its northern
England region.  By the late 1970’s the
company had succeeded in establishing itself as the region’s top
and one of the top chains in the country.


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 eight.
  • 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 Morrison Numbers 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)


Select Morrison and Like Surnames  

Patronymic surnames can be with either the “-son” or the shorter “s” suffix to the first name.  The “son” suffix is more common in northern England than in the south and in lowland Scotland.  Here are some of these surnames that you can check out.





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