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.