The Morrison Surname

The meaning of the Morrison surname. Isle of Lewis image

Do you have a Morrison in your family tree? Where does the name Morrison originate from? Who are some of the famous Morrisons?

Find out more about the Morrison surname below:

The origins of the Morrison surname:

First of all, the surname Morrison is a patronymic which means ‘the son of Morris’ or ‘the son of Maurice’.  The Normans brought the name Maurice, Latin for Moorish, to Britain and over time the name changed to Morris.  Therefore, the surname is not originally from Scotland, and it evolved into the surname Morrison or Morison.

Nevertheless, Morrison is a popular Scottish surname near Durness in Sutherland.  Tradition notes that the surname may have been first used in Lewis. In the early 1200s, there is evidence of a Mourice belonging to the Clan MhicGillmhoire. His natural brother, Leod, may have been the progenitor of the MacLeods of Lewis and Harris. The descendants of Mourice became judiciary caretakers or brieves of Lewis.

Clan Morrison:

The last clan Morrison chief was  Dr John Ruairidh Morrison of Ruchdi.  Sadly, he died last month in November 2020. He had taken office, as Clan Chief, in December 2010 following the death of his father.  His grandfather, Dr John Morrison, was appointed in 1965 by the Lord Lyon, King of Arms, as Chief of all Morrisons. His lineage can be traced back thirteen generations to the Morrisons of Harris, the hereditary keepers of the Dun of Pabbay.

Morrison Academy:

In a small Perthshire village called Muthill, Thomas Morrison was born in 1761.  He trained as a mason and then started his own building company in Edinburgh at the time when the Georgian New Town was being developed. He became a wealthy man in Edinburgh and died there in 1820 at the age of 59.  His grave is located in St Cuthbert’s churchyard in Edinburgh.

Gravestone with the Morrison family surname
(c) Find a Grave

Consequently, since he had no children, he bequeathed his fortune to create a school for the benefit of the education of young children.  His executors decided to build the educational institution in Crieff, where his mother was born, rather than in Edinburgh where there were already many schools. Morrison Academy opened in October 1860 and is still in operation today.

Morrisons supermarket:

In most Scottish towns, there is a Morrisons supermarket.  Butter and egg merchant, William Morrison, started in business at a market stall in Bradford, Yorkshire, around 1899.  The supermarket chain has a link with Scotland where they source all their potatoes from Carnoustie in Tayside.

Other famous Morrisons:

The most famous Morrison might be Marion Robert Morrison, also known as John Wayne. Apparently he had applied to become a member of the Clan Morrison Society.  Other famous Morrisons are the lead singer of the Doors, Jim Morrison, and world heavyweight boxing champion in the 1990s, Tommy Morrison.  

If you are a Morrison and want me to research your family tree then please contact me for an email chat or zoom chat.

This post is one of our series on Scottish Surnames.


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