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Morrison




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Surname:  Morrison
Branch:  Morrison
Origins:  Scottish
More Info:  Scotland

Background:  This ancient name highlights the problems created by the anglicisation of Gaelic names. It seems quite likely that there are three quite distinct origins - two Hebridean and one mainland. In Donegal, the O'Muirgheasains, whose name means 'sea valour' were bards, and keepers of the holy relics. Further to the south, Ghille Mhuire, or 'servant of the Virgin Mary', was, according to tradition, washed ashore, having survived a shipwreck by clinging to a piece of driftwood.




Motto:  Teaglach Phabbay (Family of Pabbay) / Dun Uisdean (Hugh's Castle).
Arms:  Per bend sinister Gules and Argent, a demi-lion rampant issueant Or, armed and langued Azure, holding in his paws a battleaxe, the shaft surved, Third, axehead of the Fourth in chief, in base, issuing from the sea undy Vert and Or, a tower Sable, windows and port Or, over all a bend sinister embattled Azure, charged with an open crown Or, jewelled Gules, between two fleur de lis Argent.
Crest:  Issuant from waves of the sea Azure crested Argent, a mount Vert, thereon an embattled wall Azure masoned Argent, and issuing therefrom a cubit arm naked Proper, the hand grasping a dagger hilted Or.
Supporters:  (on a compartment consiting of two timber logs of driftwood Proper floating in the sea Azure crested Argent) Two dolphins hauriant Vert issuant from the waves.
Badge:  A castle rising from the sea, with a hand holding a dagger emerging from it.
Plant:  Driftwood (Sgoid Cladach).

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The Chlann Mhic-Ghille-Mhuire, meaning "Devotee of St. Mary" or Morrison clan is said to be Scandinavian in origin, supposedlydescending from the natural son of the King of Norway who wasshipwrecked of the shores of Lewis. This is the Morrison clanwhereas the Morrisons of the Central Highlands, "sons of Maurice",and the Morrisons who descend from the O'Muirgheasain bards fromIreland who settled in Harris have no connection with the Hebrideanclan of Lewis. The Morrison chiefs once held the hereditary office ofBrilheanh, brieve or judgement, under the Macleods from whom theyheld Habost in north Lewis. The first recorded Morrison is Uisdean ofHugh who lived in the 16th century, a contempory of the last Macleodof Lewis, Roderick, who was chief till about 1595. He is said to haveincurred their wrath when he betrayed Torquil Dubh Macleod, whowas beheaded by the Mackenzies in 1597. The Morrisonsconsequently had to seek refuge on the mainland and about sixtyfamilies of Morrisons are said to have settled in the vicinity of Durnessin the Mackay country, accounting for the similarity of the Morrisonand Mackay tartans. They lost the hereditary brieveship of Lewis in1613 when they resisted the takeover by the Mackenzies, and by the19th century it became impossible to even trace the line. A branch ofthe clan, the Morrisons in Pabbay of Harris were the hereditary smithsand armourers to the Macleods of Harris. John Morrison of this familywas a celebrated poet of the 19th century. The Morrisons of Ruchdi inNorth Uist are descendants of the Morrisons of Pabbay and on petitionof the Lyon Court were reinvested in arms as the chiefs of ClanMorrison.

And another account: Eight centuries ago a Norse ship. struggled in heavy seas off the Scottish island of Lewis. A proud Kintyre noblewoman named Lauon stood on deck cradling her newborn I infant son, Gillemorrie, in her arms while her husband, Olaf the Black, shouted orders to the crew. Despite his Herculean efforts the ship foundered. Olaf, Lauon and their son plunged into the frigid waters and clung to a piece of driftwood near their sinking vessel. Fortune smiled upon the stoic trio, and they were deposited safe but wet upon the stony Lewis shore.

Lauon had married Olaf in 1214 and bore him one child (Gillemorrie). The fact that she was a cousin german to Olafs first wife was unacceptable to the church. Bishop Reginald of the Isles declared their relationship incestuous, nullified the marriage and branded her son illegitimate.

Gillemorrie, upon achieving manhood, married the last heiress of the Clan Igaa (also known as the Clan Gow). She held the stronghold of Pabbay Castle near the island of Harris as her birthright. It was from this union that the Clan Morrison sprang. Two distinct branches evolved - the Morrisons of Harris and the Morrisons of Lewis. The Morrisons of Lewis established a fortress named Dun Eistein on the northern tip of the island. They gave rise to ten generations of brieves (hereditary judges) which held sway over the area until 1613. This branch of the family vanished from the pages of history following the issuance of letters of fire and sword on 28 August 1616.

In 1226 Olaf the Black became King of Man and the Isles. His third wife, Christiana (daughter of Ferquhar, Earl of Ross), gave birth to Leod, the progenitor of the Clan McLeod. The Morrisons of Harris became the hereditary armourers of the McLeods.

Dr. Iain M. Morrison (Lord Ruchdi) became chief of the clan on 12 June 1974. He traces his lineage back fourteen generations to the Morrisons of Harris, the hereditary keepers of the Dun of Phabby (Phabbay/Pabbay).

The clan society was founded in 1909, and it was granted letters patent by the Lord Lyon, King of Arms. The society embraces the surnames Morrison, Morison, Murison, Brieve and Gilmore. The clan badge is driftwood and its slogans are Dun Uisdean (Eistein Castle) and Teaghlach Phabbay (the family of Pabbay). Morrisons have both a society and a clan tartan. The green society tartan is a variant of the Mackay sett with a red stripe. In the 1930s a 300 year old remnant of scarlet tartan was discovered on the Island of Lewis wrapped around an old Morrison bible. It was declared the true Morrison tartan, and it received official , recognition on 3 January 1968. The clan has branches scattered world- wide. Canada and the United States are unified under the North American branch of the Clan Morrison Society.

Name Variations:  Brieve, Gilmore, Gilmour, Judge, MacBrieve, Morison, Morrison.

References:
One or more of the following publications has been referenced for this article.
The General Armory; Sir Bernard Burke - 1842.
A Handbook of Mottoes; C.N. Elvin - 1860.
Scottish Clans and Tartans; Neil Grant - 2000.
Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia; George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire - 1994.
Scottish Clans and Tartans; Ian Grimble - 1973.
World Tartans; Iain Zaczek - 2001.
Clans and Families of Scotland; Alexander Fulton - 1991.








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