Morrison Family Tree

Relationship between

Thomas Morisone (9th great-grandfather)
Philip John Morrison

Thomas Morisone (1598-)

James Morisone (1618-)

George Morisone (1643-)

John Morisone  (1665-)

James Morison (1697-)

James Morison (1728-)

Robert Morison (1766-)

Archibald Morrison (1802-1872)

Robert Morrison (1841-1919)

Philip Morrison (1877-1959)

David Philip Morrison (1923-1999)

Philip John Morrison (1951-)


My name is Philip John Morrison and I was born in London in 1951. My father was a Scot born in Montrose, Angus and he met and married my mother, Sylvia, in London after WW2.

I started to research my family tree on my father’s side and I need to go back in time, about 1,224 years in order to find a fascinating story.

The isles of Lewis & Harris are in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland where, until the 8th century, it was inhabited by Scots and Picts speaking Gaelic and living a Celtic lifestyle.

However, everything changed when the Norsemen arrived in 793.

Shetland is just 190 miles due west of Norway and Viking longships, navigated by expert sailors, could make the journey from Hordaland (Bergen region of south west Norway) in 24 hours with favourable weather conditions. And from that point access to Orkney, The Hebrides and the Scottish mainland – Caithness and Sutherland for example – was relatively easy.

During these genetically mixing years the islanders generally led normal lives building a mix of Christian churches and pagan monuments. Initially the Norsemen were pagans but they later succumbed to Christianity.

Over the next couple of centuries the Viking Norsemen (and women) inter-married with locals, and later with men and women from Ulster and the Isle of Man. They introduced new fishing techniques as well as sowing new crops and many of the inhabitants became bilingual. Old Norse and Gaelic, that’s something.

Earl Somerled was a Norse war lord and a big cheese at the time ruling over the isles until his death in 1164. During the 12th century he was regarded as a significant figure and descendants of his ruled until the late fifteenth century.

Research shows that the name Morrison from the Isles of Lewis & Harris was derived from the Gaelic surname: MacGilleMhoire and over time was anglicised to Morrison.

There is a suggestion that Morrisons were hereditary judges on the islands of Lewis and Harris and if one was found guilty of a faulty judgement they were punished by the forfeiture of an ‘R’ from his name and that of his descendants and went into exile as Morisons crop up regularly in the lowlands of Scotland while Morrisons in the islands are plentiful.

There is no single definitive theory for the origin of the modern day Morrison spelling, however it is most likely to have evolved from a patronymic form of either (1) Maurice/Morris (from St Maurice) to become ‘son of Morris’ (Morrison), or (2) Moor/Moore/More to become Moresoun (Morrison), or (3) Moir/Muir to become Muirson (Morrison)

Around 1688 John Morrison of Bragar documented a historic account of Lewis that all Morrisons can claim to be descendants from one man, an illegitimate son of one of the kings of Norway.

Olaf the Black of Norwegian descent ruled the Isle of Man (Mann) and parts of the Hebrides during 1226-1227, his father was King of Dublin.

His first marriage was nullified which would have deemed his son, Gillemorrie, illegitimate. Gillemuire of course translates to MacGilleMhoire.

The chiefs of the clan Morrison of Lewis held the Celtic office of Brieve (judge) on the islands for generations until 1616.

Septs of Clan Morrison includes: Gilmour, Gilmore, Brieve, MacBrieve, and Judge.

A recent genetic study suggests that Somerled has hundreds of thousands of patrilineal descendants and I think I am probably one of them despite there being no traceable descendant of the chiefs of the Morrisons of Lewis.

However, since originally writing this piece my subsequent DNA results reveal no romantic connection with Norse Vikings or Somerled although I do have Viking connections via another branch of my family and a more direct route with the Normans.

The name ‘Norman’ originates from Norsemen; yes Vikings, who were handed a large part of northern France in exchange for not attacking Paris. The land became known as Northmannia and was later shortened to Normandy. I just need to find a link.

It seems that Normans arriving with William the Conqueror in 1066 migrated northwards bringing with them names such as Maurieson, Moresoune, Moriesone, Muirson and Moriesoun – they were often written as they sounded to the scribe until standardised in time to Morison or Morrison.

Around the start of the 18th century Morison with one “R” was adopted in most recordings and a century later it was generally recorded with two “RR”.

Going back to my DNA records it shows that I originated in south east Europe during the Bronze Age (2300BC).

Over millennia some of the population migrated west.

Take your pick of countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia. This makes me quite an immigrant.

I know from a distant cousin, Marsha Pryor, in the USA that the Morisons moved from Tullibody (Clackmannanshire) to Carron, Larbert, Stirlingshire in the late 1700s from written evidence she has which was recorded by her Scottish aunties and kept by her mother.

Alloa is a sea port town and parish in Clackmannanshire, 7 miles from Stirling and about 10 miles from Larbert, containing the villages of Cambus, Coalyland, Holton-Square, and Tullibody. The village of Tullibody is about two miles west of Alloa. Clackmannan is 2 miles to the east.

And it is interesting that the family moved from Tullibody (or indeed one of the other villages) at a time of declining population of Alloa and its villages. In 1755 the population was recorded at 5,816 and by 1791 it had fallen by around one thousand to 4,802 although in 1772 Alloa was exporting one third of Scotland’s coal production. Obviously mining didn’t feature in the family.

Alloa was formerly chapel dependent on the parish church of Tullibody, but afterwards it became a separate parish and swallowed up the mother church. Tullibody was united with Alloa in 1600.

Tullibody Old Kirk

Tullibody Old Kirk from the 12th century founded in 1149. It was rebuilt in the 16th century and restored again in 1760 by George Abercromby and was turned into a family mausoleum.

Closer to present time I found my 9th great-grandfather who lived in Clackmannanshire, the wee county in Scotland bordering Stirlingshire, Fife and Perth & Kinross.

It is documented that Clackmannanshire saw ‘Morrison’ establishment in the early 1600s.

9th great-grandfather Thomas Morisone (1598-?)
Born: Clackmannanshire, Scotland
Marriage: Unknown
Spouse: Janet Mitchell (1600-?)
Monarch: James VI, 1567-1625
Event: 1611 The growth in use of the English language King James Bible by Scottish Protestants helps weaken the Gaelic language.

Thomas was born during 1598 and baptised on Thursday, 5th November 1598 at Alloa. I cannot find any other records.

At this period physical infrastructure was poor and had an impact on communications and attitudes. For example, it took severals days for events to become common knowledge and one week for an ‘express’ horseman to reach Edinburgh from London. It would take until the late 18th century before roads improved, meanwhile the rough and ready tracks were constantly being maintained in order for horse and carts to move during summer and winter.

The villages were described by a foreign visitor as:

they look very poor, the houses having stone walls not as high as a man upon which the roofs are erected and covered with sod.”

An Englishman described them :

The vulgar houses and what are seen in the villages, are low and feeble. Their walls are made of a few stones jumbled together with mortar to cement them, on which they set up pieces of wood meeting at the top, ridge fashion, but so ordered that there is neither sightliness nor strength; and it does not cost much more time to erect such a cottage than to pull it down. They cover these houses with turf an inch thick and in the shape of larger tiles which they fashion with wooden pins, and renew as often as there is occasion; and that is very frequently. It is rare to find chimneys in these places, a small vent in the roof sufficing to convey the smoke away.

8th great-grandfather James Morisone (1618-?)
Born: Clackmannanshire, Scotland
Marriage: Unknown
Spouse: Unknown
Monarch: Charles I, 1625-1649
Event: King Charles was beheaded in January 1649.

James was born on Monday, 5th November 1618 at Alloa. I have a copy of the old parish register but nothing else.

In 1616 the Scottish church sets up schools in every parish to teach children “godliness and knowledge“; and to read and write in English and not Gaelic, which it considers “the chief cause of the barbaritie and incivilitie of the people.

7th great-grandfather George Morisone (1643-?)
Born: Alloa,Clackmannanshire, Scotland
Marriage: Sunday, 19th October 1659
Spouse: Margret Don (c.1643-?)
Monarch: Charles I, 1625-49
Event: The Solemn League and Covenant promises Scots army to aid English parliamentarians against the king in 1643.

Born in Alloa on Sunday 22nd November 1643.

George probably still spoke Lowlands Scots but as time passed local language slowly changed into Scottish English.

In 1617 interpreters were declared no longer necessary in the port of London because Scots and Englishmen were now “not so far different bot ane understandeth ane uther”

He married Margret Don (parents unknown) in Alloa, Clackmannanshire and they had two children who were both born there. It is likely that it was a penny wedding which was a community event when money was tight or non-existent. It was an open house where the villagers brought some food or drink and anyone with a special talent would perform by singing or playing a musical instrument. There is a report that this October wedding was a time of very bad weather – “unseasonable weather, so that fruits of the earth are threatened to be destroyed”.

They had two boys, George Morisone, baptised on Sunday, 22nd November 1663 and John Morisone, born two years later on Wednesday, 30th September 1665 and baptised the following month.

The Old Parish Register has John’s birth record. It was witnessed by John Anderson and Robert Moasons.

George senior was born around the same time as when the Scots defeated the English at Newburn on the River Tyne, his father would certainly have been aware of it although unlikely to have taken part as the Scottish army consisted mainly of highland clans.

During these times Scotland was subject to crop failures, the best Scottish agricultural land was often raided by the English armies. Barley was used to make broths, porridge and ale which was drank in preference to the often contaminated water supply.

Common people did not enjoy a great variety of food. Milk, cheese and cream were available, butter was very expensive. Eggs were occasional food. Fish, noticeably pike, trout, salmon, eels and lamprey were eaten often due to religious pressure (the church forbade the eating of meat on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays). Honey was used to sweeten food but salt would have been available only to Lairds and the like. In season beans, kale, peas and onions were available but always subject to poor harvest or bad weather. There is evidence of famine in parts of southern Scotland in 1623. Starvation and disease was not unusual in bad times.

A hearth tax was a property taxed levied on each hearth (fireplace) and was introduced to Scotland during the 17th century. Based on these returns it was calculated that the population of Scotland in 1691 was 1,234,575.

The 15th century saw Scots smoking old salmon that had spawned which they split and smoked overnight – it was known as kippering. Kippers (herring) was invented much later in 1843. I hope that George and his family enjoyed ‘kippers’.

Fynes Morison

An Itinerary: Containing His Ten Years Travel Through the Twelve Dominions of Germany, Bohemia, Switzerland, Netherland, Denmark, Poland, Italy, Turkey, France, England, Scotland and Ireland. Published 1617.

Fynes Morison or Moryson (1566-1630), no relation to me as far as I am aware, was known for his travel writing and social observation. In 1617 he published three volumes of An Itinerary: containing his ten years travel through the twelve dominions of Germany, Bohemia, Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Italy, Turkey, France, England, Scotland and Ireland.

Whilst in Scotland he observed and noted that the lowland peasantry wore blue bonnets knitted from thick wool, dyed with woad and felted to produce a water resistant finish. I am sure that they came in handy in Scotland’s damp and cold climate. The woollen blue bonnets imitated the velvet caps worn by the upper classes. Later, the Covenanters (Scottish Presbyterian movement) adopted the blue bonnet to distinguish themselves from their Royalist opponents.

He also noted that there were no regular inns with signs hanging outside but private householders would entertain and accommodate travellers. In 1618 John Taylor, the Thames waterman commonly known as the water poet, wrote in his publication ‘Pennyless Pilgrimage’ that during his travels through Scotland he depended entirely on private hospitality.


A print of the 1650s, satirising Covenanter manipulation of the young Charles II, shows ‘Jockie’, a stereotypical Presbyterian Lowland Scot, wearing a broad blue bonnet.

During the 1600s most Scottish towns and villages were dirty. When rural people were ill they turned to folk remedies, herbalists, lay practitioners and witchcraft to counter ailments and diseases.

In 1600 the only medical institutions in Scotland were based in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

It was a struggle to keep children alive. Children were usually delivered in a bed by one or two elderly women from the village or town but illegitimates were born in stables or obscure places. Infanticide was a possibility for illegitimate or unwanted children. Female midwives often called ‘skilly’, ‘handy-woman’, ‘neighbour-woman’, ‘helping-woman’ and, most commonly, a ‘howdie’, did not appear in Scotland until the early 1700s. “Whaurs the howdie?” would be the cry.

Weather, disease, hunger and hardships of childbirth meant that many died before the age of 10 years.

One distinctive folk remedy to treat jaundice was:

Take ½ ounce Saffron, 4 ounces sheep’s droppings and 4 bottles of beer; boil together for half an hour, put back into the bottles and take a dram three of four times per day.


Gallows for witches (top). Woman sweeping away illness from a man’s head.

Bloodletting was popular too.

Bloodletting tool 1700s

Bloodletting tool 1700s

An intense witch hunt took place in 1661-62 involving 664 named witches. The last recorded executions were in 1706. Of 3,398 individuals involved in witchcraft cases between 1500 and 1740, some 140 involved folk healing.

6th great-grandfather John Morisone (1665-?)
Born: Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland
Marriage: Wednesday, 2nd June 1688
Spouse: Jannet Mitchell (1666-?)
Monarch: Charles II, 1660-85
Event: James, Duke of Monmouth defeats Covenanters at the Battle of Bothwell Brig in 1679

John was born at the same time as the Great Plague of London which managed to find its way to Scotland. Aberdeen council saw fit to examine all ships before being allowed to enter the harbour after 65 people became infected and died. They were infected by a woman from Brechin. I have no idea how they knew that. By 1700 it had effectively gone.

John Morisone, born on Wednesday, 30th September, was 23 years of age when he married Jannet Mitchell in Alloa. Janet was born on Friday, 31st December 1666 in Alloa, a few months after the Great Fire of London.  Her parents were John Mitchel (1650-?) and Elspet Rainie (1642-?) both of Alloa.

John was baptised in Alloa during October 1665, witnessed by John Anderson and Robert Measons.

They had four children, all born in Alloa.

Janet baptised Wednesday, 17th August 1689, John baptised Saturday, 17th January 1693 and James born Thursday, 17th January 1697, Elspeth baptised Wednesday, 20th April 1701.

This was a period of national famine when there was an economic slump followed by failed harvests in 1695, 1696 and 1698-99. It was also an age of bad weather as recorded in January 1690:

“This night there was a most extraordinary storme of wind, accompanied with snow and sharp weather; it did greate harme in many places, blowing down houses, trees, & killing many people. It began about 2 in the morning, and lasted till 5, being a kind of hurricane, which mariners observe have begun of late yeares to come Northward. This winter hath ben hitherto extremely wet, warm, and windy.”

Around this time oats became a popular cereal food. It made an oatmeal pottage that was eaten twice a day. A record from 1690 shows parish relief would allocate ¾ of a peck of oats or one peck of beans a week which wasn’t very much for poor and hungry families.

Meanwhile, a visiting English gentleman wrote:

“I always bee lodgd in his lodging, the kitchen being always on the side of the bank, many kettles and pots boyling, and many spits turning and twisting, with great variety of cheeres; as venison baked, sodden, rost and stu’de beef, mutton goates, kids, hares, fresh salmon, pidgeons, hens, capons, chickens, partridge, moore-coots, heathcocks, caperkellies (grouse) and tarmagants (seabird); good ale, sacke, white and claret, tent and most potent aquavitae (whisky).”

During this period, starvation probably killed 5–15 per cent of the Scottish population. How the other half lived, eh?

5th great-grandfather James Morison (1697-?)
Born: Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland
Marriage: Sunday, 17th June 1725
Spouse: Elizabeth Turnball (c.1704-?)
Monarch: William & Mary, 1689-1702
Event: Education Act of 1696 ordains a school in every parish

James Morison is my 5th great-grandfather born in Alloa on Thursday, 17th January 1697.

He was born during the same month that Scottish student Thomas Aikenhead became the last person in Great Britain to be executed for blasphemy when he is hanged outside Edinburgh.

James married Elizabeth Turnball (parents unknown) when he was 28 in his home town; they had six children, all born in Alloa. Thomas (1726-), James (1728-), Jean (1730-), Elizabeth (1733-), Janet (1735-) and Robert (1738-).

Due to the Acts of Union in 1706–1707 James no longer had to worry about going to war against a neighbouring nation following the union of England and Scotland.


The Acts of Union were two Acts of Parliament: the Union with Scotland Act 1706 passed by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland.

And language was changing as by the end of the century Scots spelling had virtually disappeared and standard English or Scottish English was used.

The close proximity to the Firth of Forth must have meant a good supply of fish which is depicted in this fish seller’s song of the time:

“Wha’ll buy my caller herrin’? They’re bonnie fish and halesome farin’ Wha’ll buy my caller herrin’? New caught frae the Forth… There’s nae br’ot here without brave darin’, wives and mithers maist despairin’, call them lives o’ men, caller herrin’”

Tea appears to have been introduced to Scotland in the late 1600s but I doubt whether my relatives could afford it as I discovered a pound of green tea cost 16 shillings in 1705.

During the 16th and 17th centuries thousands of Lowland Scots poured into Ulster but I cannot find any family member who did so.

4th great-grandfather James Morison (1728-?)
Born: Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland
Marriage: Friday, 26th September 1755
Spouse: Mary Dewar (1740-?)
Monarch: George II, (1727-60)
Event: The Battle of Culloden ends the last Jacobite rising in 1746

The Battle of Culloden (16th April 1746) was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745 and part of a religious civil war in Britain.


Jacobite camp 1745 (top). The Battle of Culloden ends the last Jacobite rising in 1746.

My 4th great-grandfather was named after his father and was born in Alloa in 1728 and baptised on Wednesday, 10th March. When he was 27 he married a local girl, Mary Dewar from Clackmannan.

James was born in the same year when the British government was administered by Robert Walpole, the first prime minister.

When he was a young boy he would have experienced a gale that raged in the early hours of 25th January 1739 causing a great deal of loss to ships in the Forth estuary, widespread structural damage and a loss of a great many trees. Exactly two years later another gale caused similar destruction.

James was a flesher at Grasmiston. At first I assumed he was a butcher but research shows that a flesher could have worked in a tannery – later Tullibody had a purpose built tannery.

A Flesher (fur skins), aka Hand Flesher; uses a single-edged knife having two projections, which is driven into an upright post; sits behind post, drawing fur, by hand, across blade of knife, thus removing superfluous flesh and fat; or (heavy skins) throws skin over short heavy trestle or beam; scrapes flesh and fat with a two-handled knife; sometimes damps skin with a wet cloth to facilitate operation of fleshing. “A Dictionary of Occupational Terms”

They had six children all born in Clackmannan including twins, Isobel (1756-), Mary (1759-1761), Mary (1761-), James (1764-), Elizabeth and Robert born on Monday, 6th October 1766.

There is no further information regarding Robert’s twin, Elizabeth, so it is possible that she died in infancy as did her sister, Mary.

During the mid-18th century roads were primitive and in some places non-existent which is why Alloa as a sea port was so important and this was the only viable way to deliver coal to Glasgow.

Weavers cottage 1772

Weavers cottage 1772

06/10/1766 OPR Birth record.
James Morison Flesher in Grasmiston & Mary Dewar had a son and daughter. Bap. Robert & Elizabeth twins. In the presence of the Congregation.

Clothing was relatively unchanged through the 1600s and into the 18th century, mainly woollen and dark. White was for the rich because it showed you could afford to have somebody else wash your clothes.

I am sure the family appreciated the introduction to Scotland of the potato in 1739 as an alternative to daily pottage and bread made from oats or barley. Wheat was generally difficult to grow because of the damp climate. Meat was a rarity for the common people unless James really was a butcher.

3rd great-grandfather Robert Morison (1766 – c.1815)
Born: Clackmannan, Clackmannanshire, Scotland
Marriage: Unknown
Spouse: Janet Carmichael (1763-?)
Monarch: George III, 1760-1820
Event: Adam Smith publishes The Wealth of Nations (in English) in 1776

Robert Morison is my 3rd great-grandfather and he was born on Monday, 6th October together with his twin, Elizabeth. Within 20 years he is married and living in Larbert in Stirlingshire. He married Janet Carmichael and they raised five children in Larbert. At some stage Robert and possibly other family members moved from north of the Forth to Larbert/Stenhousemuir confirmed in a written record and memoirs.

Larbert lies in the Forth Valley above the River Carron a few miles northwest of Falkirk and west of Stenhousemuir. Stenhousemuir and Larbert are twin villages so it is possible that if you were actually born in Stenhousemuir in the parish of Larbert then it often goes from then onwards your place of birth, residence, etc., is recorded as Larbert.

Today, Larbert and Stenhousemuir are commuter towns with a combined population of over 16,000.

In 1848 the Scottish Central Railway built their railway bringing further employment opportunities with the Dobbie, Forbes and Co foundry opening in 1872. Larbert railway station was opened on 1st March 1848.

However, at the time of the birth of Robert it was a village where the inhabitants mainly engaged in agriculture but by 1759 The Carron Company ironworks opened producing cast-iron goods. The Carronade (naval cannon) was made there and brought much needed employment. Workers flocked to Larbert and the village spread eastwards towards Stenhousemuir. The rapidly expanding parish totalled 4,000.

Despite employment at the foundry and the supporting coal mines; life was pretty tough. It wasn’t unusual at these times for parents’ to remove their children from education once they had reached 12 years of age and put them in the work place.

Robert would have known of James Bruce, the African traveller, who was born in 1730 at Kinnaird just outside Larbert, who traced the origins of the Blue Nile. And John Baildon born in Larbert in 1772 who became a pioneer in metallurgy.

He was also born at a time of change in Scottish country life as until circa 1760 society remained frugal, homely and provincial but great change was coming regarding tastes, manners and habits. Wider interests began to be shown, more comfortable lifestyle for example due to the rise in the domestic economy of Scotland.

Robert worked as a weaver and had sufficient funds to ensure that he and his wife had their own grave stone in Larbert’s old Parish Church.

According to family records he was an Elder at the octagonal Tattie Kirk in Falkirk which was built in 1806. The Tattie Kirk was built for the so called Anti-Burgher congregation – it still stands today having not been used as a church since 1879. It is now used for storage. Octagonal churches are not unknown in Scotland and they are said to have been built this way so that there was no corner for the Devil to hide in!

The Tattie Kirk

The Tattie Kirk

In its graveyard there still stand undated stones for Agnes, Janet, Jean and Mary Morison and over time (1827-1869) 600 people were buried there, half of them under the age of 10 years. This was a time of overcrowding and poor sanitary, cholera and typhus was rife. Today only about 90 of the local sandstone head stones survive, many of which the inscriptions cannot be read. Friends of the Tattie Kirk Graveyard have made endeavours to keep the graveyard clean and tidy.

The summer of 1781 was cold and dry; grass and corn failed to grow properly. On Saturday, 6th April the following year a heavy snow storm struck proving fatal for a large number of sheep. Then in October more snow fell and together with the cold season unripened corn was buried.

Recorded in 1791 it was notable that “a great deal of butcher’s meat was being consumed,” 10 fold compared to 20 years ago when it was entirely seasonal, in fact butcher’s meat was beginning to reach the weavers and the better paid workers in the lowlands.

Furthermore, more cotton and linen was worn and soap was more readily available.

Robert married Janet Carmichael (1763-c.1815) from Larbert. Her parents were John Carmichael (1728-) and Janet Adam (1730-) who married in Airth on Sunday 30th January 1762, witnessed by John and William Tours.

A ‘remarkable’ snowstorm swept the lowlands of Scotland beginning on the 23rd January 1794. It came to be known locally as the ‘Gonial Blast’ because of the extraordinary number of sheep that were killed, in addition to the deaths of many of the shepherds attending. (gonial = mutton of sheep).

Here is a budget from 1792 which shows annual expenses for a common worker, wife and four children.

Budget from 1792

It was recorded in 1799 that the cost of potatoes were 8d. per small peck and one year later the price had increased to 10d. because of a poor crop and by 1802 the price had increased to one shilling. By this time beef was 1s. per pound and mutton is 9d.

Old system: 12d ([old] pence) = 1s (shilling); 20s = £1 (one pound)
New (current) system: 100p ([new] pence) = £1 (one pound)
Therefore, 8d = 3½p, 10d = 4p, 1s = 5p 14s4d = 71½p

Robert’s death record is rather illusive but two main facts are clear. His occupation was a weaver as shown on his son’s death certificate and a grave marker in Larbert Old Parish Church shows “1815 Robert Morrison & Janet Carmichael”

Robert Morison and Janet Carmichael grave stone

Robert Morrison and Janet Carmichael grave stone . 1815.

It’s also probable that he spent his entire adult life living and working in the immediate area as their children’s birth places testify.

The headstone is very typical from those around this time as it only lists the two names which almost always indicate that they were husband and wife. The year, however, may not be a year of death for either of them – it could be the year in which they purchased the lair (again typical for this time) or perhaps the year of death of a child.

I use the surname Morison/Morrison as shown in historic records.

Janet Morison, named after her mother and grandmother, was born in Dennyloadhead – 3 miles from Larbert in 1786 and christened on 8th December, witnessed by George Fisher and John McLauchlan. Death records are unknown and Janet doesn’t appear in Scotland’s first census in 1841 although a record from 1837 shows a Janet Morrison who was a linen and woollen draper/haberdasher in Grahamston Trade Directory.

James Morison was born on Tuesday, 11th March 1788 at Larbert, witnesses were John McLachlan and Thomas Bain. He was baptised on 14th March. He was single and his occupation was a weaver.

At 28 years of age James lived through a great hurricane and snowstorm. It was noted on 20th October 1816 – ‘The stooks of corn were yet out in the fields, and the snow had to be cast to get at them; when dug out they were a frozen lump, and could not be thawed for the cattle’. 1817 was also a bad year across Scotland – with early autumnal frosts damaging and/or delaying the autumn harvest causing much hardship in rural areas.

Following a severe winter and early spring of 1838 called ‘Murphy’s winter’ after Patrick Murphy (1782-1847) which he predicted, the crops were already delayed but were then damaged in the ground by frost in August (yes, August), with the cold and frosty weather continuing through September and October leading to the loss of a large proportion of crops with much hardship for rural communities.

In 1841 his occupation is a linen weaver and he is living with his brother John in Larbert. In 1851 he lived in Stenhousemuir at Willowbank still with his brother John. By 1861 he and his brother were living at Carron Park, sharing a house with Agness and Ann Nive Bryce. He is 73 and still working as a linen weaver. He died aged 86 in Larbert Village at 9pm on 20th December 1874 of senile decay. His nephew, Robert (1841-1919) registered his death.

Robert Morison, named after his father, was born in 1789/1790 and christened in Larbert on Wednesday, 27th January 1790 witnessed by John McLauchlan and Thomas Bain (who also witnessed the christenings of Janet and James a few years earlier).

His death is unknown and he doesn’t appear in the census of 1841.

John Morrison was named after his maternal and paternal grandfathers; born in Larbert on Tuesday, 13th September 1796 and died on his birthday aged 65 in Stenhousemuir at 5.45am on 13th September in 1861 of kidney inflammation. He was single and worked as a weaver. His brother, James, registered the death.

Archibald Morrison was born around 1802 in Larbert and died in Stenhousemuir. He was the only child of Robert and Janet who married.

Rabbie Burns (1759-1796)

I am not sure whether my forebears would have celebrated Burns Night but the first supper was held in July 1801 when Robert’s friends gathered to mark the fifth anniversary of his death. It was such a success they decided to hold it again but this time in honour of his birthday.

I cooked the traditional menu below on Burns Night on 25th January 2012 for my mother and uncle John (1922-2017).

John said Grace:

The Covenanters’ or Selkirk or Galloway Grace

Some hae meat that canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
For which the Lord be thankit!

So we enjoyed:

Cock-a-Leekie soup


Haggis with neeps and tatties




Cheese and oatcakes

We didn’t sing Auld Lang Syne which is tradition but I listened to John’s stories over another bottle of wine.

2nd great-grandfather Archibald Morrison (c.1802-1872)
Born: Larbert, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Marriage: Sunday, 2nd July 1837
Spouse: Elizabeth Philp (1811-1867)
Monarch: George III, 1760-1820
Event: The Radical War aka the Scottish Insurrection of 1820

Archie was my great-great grandfather, a shoemaker all of his life. It’s possible that he worked for Thomas Hardy who had a boot-making business in Larbert. His work colleague could have possibly been William Malcolm who was of a similar age and also a shoemaker.

The Radical War was a week (1st – 8th April 1820) of strikes and unrest in respect of high unemployment, high food prices, unfair working conditions and an unresponsive government. Artisan workers in Scotland, particularly weavers (Archibald’s father and uncles), sought action to reform an uncaring government.

A strike commenced by reportedly 60,000 workers on Monday, 3rd April. One event was a march towards the Carron Company ironworks to seize weapons, but the protestors were attacked by Scottish troops of the Stirlingshire Yeomanry at Bonnymuir. Forty seven strikers were arraigned for treason. The ringleaders were executed and most of the remainder were sentenced to penal transportation.

In 1837 at Larbert on Sunday, 2nd July Archibald married Elizabeth Philp from Falkirk. Her parents were William Philp and Helen Rentoul (1779-).

From January through to early May Scotland suffered extreme cold and a lot of snow which disrupted transportation and food sources. Damage to crops would mean shortages in summer and deer were dying through lack of fodder and many lambs died at birth or shortly after.

In 1841 he lived at Philps Fews in Larbert and worked in the village too. I hope there was sufficient fuel for the fire as the winter of 1840/1 was extremely severe.

He would have witnessed the upheaval that tore Scottish Protestants apart and divided them into two different churches during the Disruption of 1843.

By this time Robert (1841-1919) was born on Monday the 15th March in Larbert. At this time Elizabeth’s brother, Alexander (1815-1886) and his wife Sarah, nee Clerk (1821-1886), were also living at Philps Fews.

At the Census of 2nd April 1871, Archibald is listed as Head, age 70 and a former shoemaker. Philip, age 27, Japanner and Helen, age 18, are living with him at No. 120 (street not recorded), Stenhousemuir.

2nd great-uncle Philip Morrison (1843-1917)

Two years later they have another son, Philip also born in Larbert on 18th May 1843. He married Jane Younie, a laundress from Forres, Morayshire at 124 Pitt Street, Blythswood, Glasgow on Wednesday, 31st December 1873, her address at the time was 63 McLean Street, Glasgow.

Her parents were John Younie (1801-1860) and Ann Wilson (1802-1879). It was a bit sad to learn that Ann died in the Morayshire Union Poorhouse in 1879.

In 1873 Philip and Jane are residing at 18 McLean Street, Glasgow.

They produced several children. Ann born on Friday, 3rd June 1875, Elizabeth in 1878 and both born in Govan. Jane arrived on Wednesday, 29th June 1881 whilst they lived at Kinning Park in Glasgow.

Philip died aged 74 at 6.35 pm on Wednesday 2nd November 1917 of carcinoma, at 8 Rae Street, Stenhousemuir.

Philip Morrison death notice 1917

8 Rae Street, Stenhousemuir.
Jane Younie Morrison sent this invitation for Philip’s funeral.

Death registered by son Archibald of 43 Victoria Terrace, Dunfermline.

He started his adult life in Edinburgh where he was a lodger at 38 Rankeillor around 1861. He was a grocer’s apprentice to William McLachlan a grocer and wine merchant of the same address.

Some years later he is living at 185 West Scotland St, Kinning Park, Glasgow with his family and working as a Japanner. In the 1881 census Alexander (4) and John (2) McLachlan are also residing at 185 West Scotland Street with Philip and Jane. I don’t know if they were baby sitting that night for William and his wife.

In 1884 the family is living at 258 Craigs Street, Kinning Park where Archibald is born on Monday the 12th May and John two years later on Wednesday, 24th November.

In 1891 he is still working as a Japanner although the family have moved along the street to number 195. By 1901 the family are back in Stenhousemuir at 8 Rae Street. He is a Berlin Blacker at one of the local foundries, Ann is a tailoress, Archibald is a 17 year Iron Moulder’s apprentice and John is a 15 year old messenger.

Another two years pass when Archibald and Elizabeth produce James, who was born on Saturday, 24th May 1845, in Larbert and on Friday, 19th May 1848 a fourth son, Alexander, who died between 1851-61.

Ten years have passed and Morrison has gained two ‘s’ and Archibald’s wife’s christian name has been recorded as Elesabeth at the 1851 census of March. Their address is simply recorded as Larbert, Stirlingshire. Alexander and Sarah Philps are close neighbours.

In 1852 their fifth and final child, Helen was born in Larbert on Tuesday, 25th May.

The 1881 census shows that Helen is unmarried and a domestic servant to Robert Graham (60), Minister of Kilbarchan (Manse Parish) and his wife, Margaret (42). The only other occupant of the house (12 rooms) is a Correspondence Clerk, Charles Weir from Dundee.

Note: The births of Philip, James, Helen and Alexander were not registered until 31st August 1852.

Another 9 years later the family resided at Willow Bank in Larbert. Robert (Iron Moulder), James and Helen (both at school) are still living at home but sadly Alexander has died.

Elizabeth died on 7th March 1867 in Stenhousemuir of ‘softening of the brain’ certified by John Ronald, surgeon.

In 1871 finds the family still in Larbert where they share a house with 7 members of the Baird family at house number 120 but the street name is unclear. Philip and Helen still live at home with their retired 70 year old father. Helen is 18 and Philip is now 24 and a Japanner in a local foundry, probably working for Dobbie Forbes, Jones & Campbell, Carron & Co or Turnbull, Mathieson.

They may well have made use of the hostelries of the time at the Red Lion, Wheat Sheaf, Black Bull or The Plough. The Plough Hotel is still there today and only a few minutes walking distance from Rae Street.

Archibald died at 07.20 on Saturday, 13th January 1872 at the home of his son Philip – 8 Rae Street, Stenhousemuir in the Parish of Larbert after suffering Hemiplegia for 3 years.

Philip registered his death.

2nd great-grandfather Robert Morrison (1841-1919)
Born: Larbert, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Marriage: Friday, 28th June 1867
Spouse: Isabella Dobson (1840–1931)
Monarch: Victoria, 1837-1901
Event: Beginning of the ten-year Highland Potato Famine (1846)

My great grandfather was born in Larbert on Monday, 15th March 1841.

At the age of 26 he married Isabella Dobson at Green Bank Street, Galashiels in Selkirkshire three months after the death of his mother. After  ‘tramping’ to London in 1865 with a companion it seems he found a job upon his return to Scotland in Galashiels at Lees & Aimers Millwrights & Founders.

Isabella was a Power Loom Weaver and Robert was an Iron Moulder, she lived at Green Bank Street and he lived at 26 Stirling Street in Galashiels. Witnesses at their wedding were brother Philip Morrison and James Steel.

c. 1800s Loom operator & iron moulder

c. 1800s Loom operator & iron moulder

Isabella was born in Galashiels on Monday, 6th April 1840 and died in Mitchell’s Land, Larbert on 15th September 1931 of Alterio Sclerosis and Senility. Son, Robert, registered the death.

Robert worked as an Iron Moulder, at the Carron Ironworks when residing in Larbert.

Isabella’s parents were James Dobson (1802-1855) from Galashiels and Isabella Purves (1801-1892) from Eckford, Roxburgh.

They had seven children (6 boys and one girl).

From the time of their marriage Larbert didn’t feature again until 1891 as they lived in Galashiels until 1872 at 21 & 30 Greenbank Street and then later at 33 Croft Street.

Isabella Morrison was born on Monday, 16th March 1868 at 21 Greenbank Street, Galashiels. She married a baker’s son, John Reid, in 1890. Bella worked as a dressmaker in Stenhousemuir for A&M Mochrie. Her death is unknown.

Archibald Morrison was born on Monday, 21st June 1869 at Galashiels and died in Arbroath on 24th April 1950. He married Helen Blackie Steel, a barmaid at the Plough Inn, in Falkirk on Friday, 26th August 1898. They produced three girls, Jane born 1899, Isabella born 1900 and Helen in 1906. He followed his father and became an Iron Moulder.

James Dobson Morrison (1871-1950) was born in Galashiels on Saturday, 29th April 1871. He married Jeanie Blackadder on Wednesday, 24th January 1906 at Carronshore. They had four children, Elizabeth (Betty) in 1907, Robert in 1908, Richard in 1910 and Isabella in 1916. He also followed his father and became an Iron Moulder. Jim was a player and later umpire of the local cricket club. He died at 18 Meeks Road, Falkirk on the 26th April 1950, in latter years he was bed-ridden.

At the 1871 census they are still residing in Galashiels but one year after his father’s death we find the family back in Larbert. Robert was born on Wednesday, 3rd December 1873, and by 1901 he’s at Moir Villa and a tailor and clothier (employer).

He is listed in Slater’s Directory of 1903 – Morrison R. tailor.

Robert was a witness to the wedding of brother James in 1906, and he registered the deaths of his father and mother.

He died on 27th August 1944 at 414 Main Street, Stenhousemuir of cerebral haemorrhage. He was single when he died and his occupation was recorded as Tailor (Master) and ARP Warden.

On Thursday, 25th January 1877 my grandfather, Philip, was born in Larbert.

He was born on the same day that Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, statue was unveiled in Glasgow.

The family have moved south to England where George Morrison was born on 29 May 1879 at 21 Fitzwilliam Road, Rotherham, Yorkshire. The birth was registered on 5th June.

Since starting this research my new found cousins gave me a copy of their grandfather’s memoirs, it was written by George in the last years of his life which enables me to update this generation. By 1881 the family have moved from Rotherham to 126 High Street, West Bromwich, the property today is a travel agents/Sikh temple. One year later the family are back in Scotland at Singer Place, Bonnybridge, Stirlingshire then in 1886 at Stenhousemuir. By 14 years of age (1893) George is an apprentice chemist at Cochrane & Co. In 1900 he is a junior assistant at Rankin & Borland in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire. In 1901 he is back at Moir Villa working as a medicine compounder. Three years later in 1904 he has taken a position with Gib Graham at Girvan, Ayrshire and the following year he is an assistant at Hunter & Ferguson in Perth, Kinross-shire. By 1911 he is back in England as manager at Clifton & Heath Pharmacists and living as a boader at 24 Society Place, Derby.

During 1911 he moved to Kirn, Argyll & Bute, Scotland, where he met and married Catherine Thomson (1880-1963) in 1913. They had two children there, Ian Morrison (1914–) and Mairi Morrison (1917–2014). Between 1917-1922 the family are now at Inverness where their third child, Seòras (George) D. Morrison (1922–2003), was born.

George acquired W. Ogston, Pharmacist and Photographic Chemist at 18 Union Street, Inverness where in 1934 he developed the photographic plates which captured a picture of the Loch Ness monster that was sensationally reported in the Daily Mail as the “Surgeon’s photograph.” Sixty years later it was shown to be a fake.

In 1930 George and his family are residing at Summerhill, Bellfield Terrace, Inverness. At some point , presumably in his retirement, he travelled to the USA where his son was living but returned to Scotland  and in March 1970 at Old Invery, Banchory, Aberdeenshire.

In 1881 Robert senior was an Iron Foundry Manager at George Salter & Co whilst living at 126 High Street in West Bromwich with his wife and their six children. He was employed to take the utmost out of the workmen and found it difficult so moved the family back to Scotland. He found work at one of two iron foundries in Bonnybridge but in the winter of 1885/6 the family moved to Glasgow as work was found at the Saracen Foundry of W MacFarlane & Co in Possilpark situated north of the River Clyde. It didn’t last long before the family were back in Scotland in an upstairs flat at Mochrie’s Buildings, Stenhousemuir where Robert found work in the Larbert foundry of Dobbie Forbes & Co. Mochrie’s Buildings was, of course, owned by Bella’s employer. On the ground floor there were three shops, a butchers, a furniture dealers and the dress making business.

One year later John Morrison was born in Falkirk, actually in a village called Bonnybridge, less than 3 miles from Larbert, on Friday, 1st September 1882. By 1901 he is an apprentice chemist presumably locally as his address at that time was South Road, Moir Villa, Larbert. In the 1911 census he is still at Moir Villa working as a chemist.

The Registers of Pharmaceutical Chemists and Chemists and Druggists, 1919 shows:

“1908 Jan 2, MORRISON John … Moir Villa, Stenhousemuir, Larbert Examination Certificate No. 17033 Chemist & Druggist.”

However, there is a sad tale to tell about John. Apparently, he prescribed a drug for a young girl who died as a result. He was distraught and eventually sold up his business carrying around the funds of the sale in a doctor’s medical bag.

On 1st October in 1936 he was committed by his family to Stirling District Asylum (known locally as Bellsdyke) and was treated for Paranoia. He was transferred to Fife District Asylum on 28th August 1939 and re-admitted to Stirling District Asylum on 13th November 1946 until his death on 10th April in 1960. His address was shown as 414 Main Street, Stenhousemuir – his brother Robert’s house.

By 1891 the family have relocated back to South Road, Larbert from West Bromwich where Robert is working as an Iron Moulder. All of the children are living at home except Isabella who would be 23.

In 1901 they are still living at South Road, Moir Villa in Larbert. Archibald has moved out and married in 1898 and there is still no sign of Isabella.

By 1911 Robert is retired but still lives at Moir Villa with sons, James, Robert, and John, daughter-in-law Jean and grandchildren Robert and Richard.

Regarding the address, Moir Villa, it is actually located in Main Street, Stenhousemuir. However, Main Street runs from Larbert Village to Stenhousemuir so when we read “South Road, Moir Villa in Larbert” it can be assumed that in the past South Road actually meant, Main Street South or South Main Street. From a brochure produced by Visit Falkirk, there’s a property offering B&B at Moir Villa, Stenhousemuir, FK5 3JR and whilst research doesn’t throw up any further clues about Moir Villa there is a Lloyds pharmacy located on Main Street sharing the same postcode. Moir Villa is or was adjacent to The Plough where I’m sure the Morrisons’ of this time enjoyed a pint or two.

The offspring of Robert’s children may well have enjoyed locally produced toffee purchased through the kitchen window of a Mrs McCowan in Stenhousemuir. Later, her husband Andrew and son Robert turned it into the Highland Cream Toffee and using a Highland cow as its trademark it soon evolved into a national institution.

Robert died on 10th December 1919 at Moir Villa, South Main Street in Larbert of cerebral haemorrhage.

His son Robert registered the death.

Grandfather Philip Morrison (1877–1959)
Born: Larbert, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Marriage: Friday, 8th June 1906
Spouse: Lilias Hope Roberts (1884-1976)
Partner: Agnes Isabella Webster (1883-1973)
Monarch: Victoria, 1837-1901
Event: WWI 1914-1918

My grandfather, Philip Morrison, was born in Larbert on Sunday, 25th February 1877. When he reached 24 he is still living at home at Moir Villa and working as a Grate Fitter.

Aged 29, he married Lilias in Larbert. Her parents were Charles (1855-) and Margaret Roberts (1857-) from Falkirk Landward, Stirlingshire.

He would have experienced the opening of Larbert’s first tram in October 1905.

Stenhousemuir. Tram c.1907. The Plough Hotel.

Stenhousemuir. Tram c.1907. The Plough Hotel.

However, there were obviously problems with the marriage* as Philip emigrated to Canada sometime before the outbreak of WWI but he entered the country illegally and was returned to Scotland.

*I have a copy of George Morrison’s (1879-1969) memoirs which says: ‘Phil married a girl Roberts from Camelon who after the birth of a still-born child left him for good.’ George also mentioned that my grandfather got himself the nickname of the “Showman” by rigging up a stage with curtains in an empty cellar beneath the furniture shop and producing some semblance of a play. Indeed, as a young man when the Dobbie Hall had been built with proper stage facilities he got together quite a creditable amateur theatrical group. He himself was no mean exponent of the historic art. I have always thought it a pity that he did not have a chance to develop it. Poor Phil, missing his tide, was destined for the shallows of life. He had bad myopic/astigmatic eyesight, a defect reckoned in those days almost as a species of stupidity; it affected his schooling. Our father I’m afraid, misunderstood and was rather hard on him so that with one thing and another he became soured and sulky. However, he and I, as youths, worked happily together for several years in a little workshop we had built.

His father died in 1919 and two years later we find him in Montrose but he’s separated from his wife Lilias. Whilst in Montrose he meets my grandmother, Agnes Isabella Webster, the daughter of John Webster (1841-) and Agnes Young (1842-1921). Agnes was head laundry maid at Montrose Infirmary where Philip was recovering from appendicitis and that’s where they met.

Agnes was born on Thursday, 19th July at 41 Baltic Street, Montrose.

They remained living unmarried in Montrose. Lilias presumably denying her husband a divorce as she retained her married name until her death in Falkirk (Windsor Hospital) aged 92.

Philip and Agnes produced three boys all born in Montrose:

John (1922-2017)

David Philip (1923-1999) – my father

Robert (1927-)

And this generation is the first of six not to have a son named James.

Philip died at 10 Mill Street, Montrose on 11th February 1959 and is buried at Sleepyhillock Cemetery, Montrose.

Agnes, who had been living at 26 Provost Reid’s Road after 10 Mill Street was compulsory purchased, died in Montrose Royal Infirmary on 16th June 1973 aged 89 and was buried at Sleepyhillock on the 18th. Her death was registered by her son John of 12 Marine House, Bent’s Road, Montrose.

Sources used to compile this information was mainly:
Ancestry, MyHeritage, FamilySearch, myFTDNA, Scotlands People, online books and references, University of Stirling,  plus input from cousin Ronald Morrison of Borders Family History Society,  cousin Ruth Morison via her nephew, Neil, second cousins, Mairi and Catriona Morrison born and living in USA, plus a distant relative, Marsha Pryor, also born and living in America.

Morrison Family Tree from 1643 to Date