Is there one?

There is no record of a Murison Tartan. Most Murisons are believed to use the Aberdeen District Tartan WR1801.

Aberdeen District Tartan

I have gone for Morrison tartans for my Kilts. They are Ancient Green & Modern Morrison (dark) both in my opinion look good in kilts; particularly the Ancient.

Morrison Ancient .................................................Morrison Modern

Contact me if you know anything regarding Murison Tartan.

Tracey Martin 2003 Nova Scotia
..well my mum , Phyllis was a Murison and she said that any one with that name was related... who knows. Anyway my mum passed away in 1998 .......Before she passed on I got a little information from her. YES. the murison ~Sept~ (small part of a clan) did indeed have a tartan! I remember my mother having a swatch of it, but I can not clearly remember how it looked. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the swatch. Mum said that her mum was a Ferguson and that somehow the two were connected and that their tartan was the backing for building on the Murison's???not too sure on that ,also that the Buchanan had some of the colouring and lines (thickness) had some bearing on the tartan.

My Grandfather talked of a Murison Tartan that was recovered in the 20th century from a hiding place in a cottage wall in Lewis . It was put there inside a bible for safe keeping during the Tartan ban. A good story but this turned out to be for the Morrison Tartan (red).
Afterwards (1747), the English king, to punish and control the clans, outlawed any use of tartan, and actually executed violators of this harsh rule. When the tartan ban was lifted (1774), many Scots hustled to take up remnants of the noble past, and there began the rush of clans clasping tartan to their bosoms---whether they had one before or not.

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Alex Morrison on October 25 2014, 02:17

Some notes on the Morrison tartans: The Morrison Tartans
There appears to much fable and fiction about the origins of the Morrison tartan. Willie Scobie (who writes for an organisation called the Scottish Tartans Authority) provides two interesting perspectives on the history of the Morrison tartan in two papers titled Mysteries of the Morrison Tartans and Territorial Tartans:
“The various stories behind the setts of the Morrison Clan provide what are surely some of the most strange and fascinating mysteries in all the long and complex history of tartan. We are left now with only scraps of written evidence, which are far removed from original sources and frustratingly lacking in coherence. It is evidence so fragmentary as to render any comment extremely speculative.
The impression given is of the quite extraordinary circumstance wherein this one clan appears to have given accounts of the relatively recent emergence of two tartans, when in one case an identical sett, and in the other case an almost identical sett, can be shown to have existed at prior dates.
This is all the more surprising because the reverse process is what one would more readily expect - i.e. when an ancient provenance is claimed for a tartan, but evidence argues for a more recent origin.
The elements of the story concerning the green Morrison tartan (ITI 1083, now known as "Morrison Society") seem relatively simple and clear. This tartan first appears in 1880 as a woven sample in the Clans Originaux swatch book produced by J. Claude Freres et Cie of Paris. Almost thirty years later, in 1909, (according to the records of D.C. Stewart and the Clan Morrison website) precisely the same sett was invented for the Morrison Society, the alleged designer being J.G. Mackay.
Two things should be noted. Firstly, a new sett was required at this time because the Morrisons believed themselves to have lost their original clan tartan. Secondly, the design of the new sett was a simple variation on the "Mackay", this being so because some Morrisons had settled in Mackay clan territory.
The very obvious question we must ask is: why was this tartan declared to be new in 1909, when in fact it had been around - named as "Morrison" - since 1880, if not indeed for considerably longer ? Given that the Clans Originaux collection is understood to have "disappeared" for a number of decades, it is perfectly possible (perhaps likely) that no one in the Morrison Society, including J.G. Mackay, was aware of the earlier existence of the sett. This leaves us with two possibilities. One is extremely far-fetched and the other is facetious -
1. J.G. Mackay designed an identical sett by sheer coincidence.
2. J.G. Mackay produced his design using psychic powers.
There is perhaps a third, which is more credible -
J.G. MacKay did know about the Clans Originaux "Morrison" tartan and he presented it to the clan. Later he was misrepresented as being the designer”.
A further point in time line regarding the origin of the tartan is added to by Leonard A Morrison (1880, p18) who wrote: “From the pen of Mac Fhearghuis (Charles Fergurson), I take this account of the Morrisons. It was printed early in the year 1879, in the ‘The Highlander’, a paper published at Inverness, Scotland, by John Murdoch…. “They have two tartans, - a beautiful red clan tartan, and a green hunting tartan.”
It would therefore appear that J G MacKay and the Morrison Society have deliberately misrepresented the origins of the tartan to the Tartans Authority as there are at least two credible sources, The Highlander and Clans Originaux, which clearly point to the existence of the tartans before 1880.
Scobie goes on to make some uncomfortable findings regarding the origins of the Green and Red (which includes both red versions) Morrison tartans. Firstly, there is “irrefutable evidence that the Green tartan predates the claim that it was created in 1909 for the newly formed Morrison Society ... (according to the records of D.C. Stewart and the Clan Morrison website precisely the same sett was invented for the Morrison Society, the alleged designer being J.G. Mackay)”.
Secondly, there are the conflicting stories regarding the two Red tartans (ITI 998/993). In brief, one story has it that the red tartan dates to “a piece of tartan found in an old Morrison family bible. The bible contained a hand written reference to the tartan and was dated 1747, one year after the proscription of Highland dress. The discovery was made during the demolition of a Black House on Lewis in 1935" (Scobie).
The other story cited by Scobie claims another discovery reported “in the Sunday Mail of May 22nd 1938 (and presumably refer to events closer to that date than 1935). According to the newspaper a piece of tartan, measuring approximately six inches by four, was discovered among some stored clothing by a Miss MacDonald in her cottage in Portree, on the Isle of Skye. From the notes on the article there was no mention of a bible or of any written reference, and without any stated evidence to support the claim it was asserted that "the cloth must have been at least 250 years old. The notes give no indication as to how or why this tartan was identified as a Morrison sett”.
Scobie presents further examples of where the red tartan came into being, all conflicting and with unsubstantiated origins. What is perhaps most damming is the fact that the most sensational claim regarding the old bible wrapped in red tartan on Lewis and a note as well as the tartan scrap from Skye no longer appear to exist, and render these “discoveries” about as credible as the fable regarding the Norse origin of the clan. Both the stories of the origins of the clan and the tartans would appear to be shipwrecks.
Finally, in terms of the Green tartan, Scobie makes some comparisons with the MacKay, Gunn, MacWilliam and Morrison tartans. Writing about the territorial nature of some tartans Scobie states “It has long been widely (perhaps generally accepted) that distinctive tartan patterns were originally associated with districts rather than with specific clans or families. The observation of Martin Martin, writing at the end of the 17th century, that a Highlander's place of residence could be "guessed" by the tartan he was wearing, was a most important contribution to the history of tartan.
Given the territorial nature of clan society it is not difficult to see how a district association with a particular tartan could so easily have evolved into a clan association with the same sett”. Scobie cites the far northern counties of Sutherland and Caithness associated with the MacKays, Gunns, MacWilliams and Morrisons as an example.
The Mackay Clan Tartan was registered with the Highland Society of Scotland around 1816. It appears in Wilson's Key Pattern Book of 1819.
If you locate a book of tartan designs or call up the following tartans on line you will see some interesting similarities.

Compare the MacKay tartan with the following:
The Gunn tartan was featured in the Cockburn Collection (1810-1820). The sett is essentially "Mackay", with a red stripe on the green instead of black.

The McWilliam tartan seems first to have been recorded in Clan Originaux, which was published in 1880. According to the STA notes - "This is MacKay (703) with the green lines changed to red."

The Morrison tartan (ITI 1083) featured in Clan Originaux in 1880, and in Tartans of the Clans and Septs of Scotland by W.&A.K. Johnston in 1906 with the red stipe replacing the green through the blue centres of the MacKay.

For something completely different, the Morrison red tartan with one centred green stripe (ITI 993)

Scobie quotes the Scottish Tartan Authority notes relating to the green Morrison tartan (ITI 1083) where “The Morrison website adds to the story: 'The green sett was developed by the Clan Society in 1909. Due to the loss of the Morrison original tartan around the 1700s, the Society selected a MacKay sett and added a red stripe.' So there we have it. It was just made up in 1909 !” (Scobie, Territorial Tartans The case for the red tartan appears to suffer from the same stigma.


There is no overall “clan Morrison” in the sense of lineal descent. Morrison groups come from all over, taking the name from different and unrelated origins. The proposition that the Morrison name/clan originated in the Western Isles as a result of a Norwegian shipwreck is pure myth and has no credibility. The Morrison tartan suffers from some of the same historical myths and legends.

Perhaps one solution is to forget about being associated with a “clan” in the true definitional sense. Just be proud to bear the name Morrison or associated spellings from Scotland, or England or Ireland. Forget about some fabled discovery of a red tartan and accept the fact there are two tartans (green and red [or three if you want to argue for two red versions]) however or wherever they originated. Choosing either or both is a personal choice made on colour preference and style for the occasion that you enjoy wearing.

Gail Murison on July 27 2010, 17:59