Morrison (surname)

The etymology of the surname Morrison is either Anglo-Norman, commonly found throughout England, Scotland and Ireland, or from the "Clan Morrison" and the myths and legends associated with bearers of the Morrison name in Scotland.

Morrison in England is traditionally believed to be a patronymic of Maurice/Morris [1], introduced into England following the Norman invasion in 1066.

In Scotland there is strong evidence that other surnames of Anglo Norman origin such as Moir, Muir and More were equally influential as potential multiple origin points for the derivative of the modern spelling of Morrison. This is supported by evidence including the association of Moor or Saracen head(s) on some Moor, Moore, More, Mores, Morrison, Mure and Muir family crests. [2],[3] The Clan Morrison Society of Scotland registered arms featuring three Moor heads in 1919 demonstrating the symbolic similarity between all these families.

Historical evidence suggests many early surnames in Scotland were nuanced and altered by such simple devices as phonetic interpretations by religious scribes. For example, Scottish records identify a marriage in 1584 between George Morese and Babara Forguson in Aberdeen.[4] Later in other Aberdeen records their names become George Moreson and Barbara Ferguson [5], then George Morrison and Barbara Ferguson. [6] Similar [Morrison]] name evolutions are recorded in Edinburgh at this time.

Another form of name changing came through rebranding of surnames. This occurred in Scotland for both convenience or necessity to disguise a highland name, for example, McCoinnich describes the adoption of the name Morrison on the Isle of Lewis around 1640 by families formerly known as "McBrief" or "mac a’ Bhritheimh”.[7] Allied to this Highland Gaelic name change is a common misconception that Morrison is a translation of the Scottish Gaelic name MacGilliemhoire. This is forcefully debunked by Black: “Equally baseless is the modern idea that “Morison” interpreted as “Mary’s son,” represents Gaelic Mac Gille Mhuire”. Alexander Morison (Heraldry of the Clan MacGhille-mhuire) makes the wild statement that the name is from ancestors who were vassals or adherents of the jarls of More or Moeri in Norway!" [8]

Perhaps the earliest recording of the recognisable surname Morrison is found in the English Yorkshire Poll Tax records in 1379 for "Ricardus Morisson”.[9] Some fifty years later in Scotland there is a Morrison recorded as "Arthuro Morison domino de Darleith" being a witness to the "Resignation by John MacRoger of Gleane MacKerne, in favour of John of Culquoune of Luss, of Gleane Mackecherne, etc. 7th February 1429".[10]

Following the gradual introduction of surnames in England, Scotland and Ireland many names such as Mirryson, Mirrison, Morisson, Morisone, Morrieson, Morriceson, Morason, Moorison, Mooresone, Morisoun, Moresoun, Murison, Muirison, Murieson, Murrison, Muresoun, Muirsoun and no doubt many other phonetic synonyms or Anglicised adaptations evolved and were standardised to become Morrison, Morison or Murison. Such standardisation in Scotland came after 1854 when Lord Elcho (Francis Richard Chateris, 10th Earl of Weymss) finally succeeded in framing An Act to Provide for the Better Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Scotland, 31 May 1854. [11]

Overall there is a common inconsistency in the spelling of Morrison or Morison in many records throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland. There is no particular rule or convention that specifies which spelling should be used. Morrison and Morison families today are widely distributed across England, Scotland and Ireland and in most cases with no common genetic or family ancestry. Morison is typically the older spelling of ancestors of the clan Morrison, with Morrison being the more commonly used now.

People with the surnameEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

[1] See George F Black (1946), p 612.

[2] James Fairbairn (1905), pp 396-403.

[3] Alexander Moir (1913).

[4] Scotlands People, Church Registers - Old Parish Registers Banns and Marriages, FR3914, 120 202, Aberdeen.

[5] Lord Provosts of Aberdeen (Munro, 1897, pp 165-167)

[6] The Records of Aboyne (Huntly, 1894, p 276)

[7] For example, see Aonghas McCoinnich (2015) who describes the adoption of the name Morrison on the Isle of Lewis around 1640 by families formerly known as "McBrief" or "mac a’ Bhritheimh", pp 64-65.

[8] Black (1946) makes the observation that "Equally baseless is the modern idea that "Morison" interpreted as "Mary’s son," represents Gaelic Mac Gille Mhuire". Alexander Morison (Heraldry of the Clan MacGhille-mhuire) makes the wild statement that the name is from ancestors who were vassals or adherents of the jarls of More or Moeri in Norway! (Black, 1946, p 639).

[9] see Nelson, P and Hinson, C. (2001) English Yorkshire Poll Tax records in 1379 for "Ricardus Morisson".

[10] See William Fraser (1869), "Arthuro Morison domino de Darleith" being a witness to the "Resignation by John MacRoger of Gleane MacKerne, in favour of John of Culquoune of Luss, of Gleane Mackecherne, etc. 7th February 1429", p 287.

[11] Anne Cameron (2007) describes the history of this Act in detail, pp 377-395.


Bibliography

Black, George F. (1946). The Surnames of Scotland: Their Origin, Meaning, and History, New York, The New York Public Library.

Cameron, Anne. (2007). The Establishment of Civil Registration in Scotland, Cambridge, England, Historical Journal, 50 (2), pp 377-395.

Fairbairn, James. (1905). Crests of the families of Great Britain and Ireland.

Fraser, William (1869). The Chiefs of Colquhoun and their country, Vol 2, Edinburgh.

Huntley, C. G., Marquis of. (1894). The records of Aboyne MCCXXX-MDCLXXXI, Printed for the New Spalding Club, Milne and Hutchison, Aberdeen.

MacCoinnich, A. (2015). Dùn Èistean: the historical background, c. 1493 – c.1700. In: Barrowman, R.C. (ed.) Dùn Èistean, Ness: The Excavation of a Clan Stronghold. Acair Press, Stornoway.

Moir, Alexander L. (1913). Moir Genealogy and Collateral Lines. Union Printing Co., Lowell, Massachusetts.

Morrison, Alexander W, (2016). The Genealogy of the Morrison Origins in Scotland: A critical evaluation of the historical evidence for the origins of the Morrisons in Scotland, On Line, Academia.

Morrison, L. A. (1880). The history of the Morison or Morrison family with most of the "Traditions of the Morrisons" (clan Mac Gillemhuire), heredity judges to 1880, A Williams and Co., Boston, Massachusetts.

Munro, A. M. (1897). Memorials of the Aldermen, Provosts and Lord Provosts of Aberdeen 1272-1895, Aberdeen.

Nelson, P and Hinson, C. (2001). Yorkshire: Some of the Subsidy Rolls (Poll Tax) for the year 1379, Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Journals, with the agreement of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, Geniuk.

Scotlands People, Church Registers - Old Parish Registers Banns and Marriages, FR3914, 120 202, Aberdeen.

Trevor-Roper, H. (2014). The Invention of Scotland, Myth and History, Yale University Press, London.