Dating from the time of the Celtic church, the name Macpherson is from the Gaelic "Mac-a Phearsain" meaning "son of the parson" in the days when celibacy of the priesthood was not enforced. The clan originated in Lochaber> but Robert the Bruce> gave them land in Badenoch as thanks for their assistance in defeating the Comyns (or Cummings). The clan later acquired land in Strathisla. The clan was part of the confederation of Clan Chattan. Indeed, Muriach, a main ancestor of Macphersons, was chief of the Clan Chattan in the 12th century. The Macphersons and the Mackintoshes were frequent rivals for the leadership of the Clan Chattan. As there would be other parsons in Scotland, the name is also found in other parts of the country (but in smaller numbers).
Tradition has it that the Macpherson who first obtained the Badenoch lands had three sons and the Macphersons are sometimes called the "Clan of the Three Brothers"
Macphersons were always fierce supporters of the monarch and fought with Montrose in the Civil War (1642-49). Euan Macpherson of Cluny (the line recognised as the chiefs of the clan) was a valiant leader of 600 members of the clan during the 1745 Jacobite Uprising> and defeated a larger force at Clifton Moor in Westmorland during the retreat from Derby. Cluny Castle was burned in 1746 by Hanoverian forces (but rebuilt in 1784). Euan evaded capture for nearly ten years after Culloden but eventually escaped to France.
James Macpherson (1736-96) from Kingussie perpetrated the literary fraud of the "Ossian Verses" in which he claimed to have found a large number of lost Gaelic verses of the 3rd century by "Ossian" (most of which he had written himself). Even so, the "Works of Ossian" gave a stimulus to the Romantic movement in Scotland.
The Macpherson estate at Cluny was bankrupt by the end of the 19th century. In recent years clan members have purchased the main relics of the clan and these are the basis of a clan museum at Newtonmore, which opened in 1952.
The Macpherson clan motto is "Touch not the cat but a glove".
Surnames regarded as septs (sub-branch) of the Macpherson clan include Carson, Cattanach, Clark, Clarke, Clarkson, Clerk, Cluny, Ferson, Gillespie, Gillies, Goudie, Gow, Lees, MacCunn, MacCurrach, MacFall, MacGowan, MacKeith, MacLeish, MacMurdo, MacMurdoch, Murdoch, Pearson, Smith.
There is a Macpherson clan Web sites here>.
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