In the Hebrides, one branch of the clan claims its descent from the O’Muircheasain bards of Donegal, while the gaelic name ‘Mac Ghille Mhuire’ gives the origin of the other. Mac Ghille Mhuire translates as ‘son of the virgin Mary’s servant’ who was, according to tradition, washed ashore after a shipwreck. The clan badge of driftwood commemorates this incident.
The Morrison clan claim their descent can be traced to Olaf the Black, King of Man.
For many years, the Morrison chiefs held the hereditary celtic office of judge or “brieve” on the island of Lewis. This, together with their links with the Lords of the Isles, made them a family of great power and influence. However, they were not a numerous clan and tried to maintain the peace with their more aggressive neighbours throughout almost two centuries of unrest in the Isles.
The power of the Morrison clan was broken in the sixteenth century when Hutcheon Morrison confessed on his deathbed to being the natural father of Torquil MacLeod, until then accepted as the son of the MacLeod chief.Torquil was disinherited and allied himself with the MacKenzies and the Morrisons. However, after Torquil’s ultimate victory over the MacLeods, he turned on his allies the Morrisons, and drove them from their lands.
The Morrison clan later returned to settle in Ness, but their earlier power had gone forever.