MACPHERSON, son of the parson, is a name of ecclesiastical origin, and the clan formed a branch of the Clan Chattan Confederation, and disputed with the Macintoshs the leadership of the great confederation.
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"
The first definite mention we have of the Macphersons is in the roll of broken clans in the Act of Parliament of 1594- they are not in the Act of 1587. Andrew is in Cluny in 1603, and in 1609 he signed the Clan Chattan Bond, taking the burden of the Brin, and other families of the Macphersons. Donald Macpherson of Cluny in 1640 was a faithful Royalist.
In 1715 the Macphersons were active under their chief, Duncan, on the Stuart side, and during the Rising of 1745
Ewen Macpherson of Cluny with 600 of the clan joined Price Charles, and behaved with great gallantry at several engagements, but did not arrive in time to take part in the Battle of Culloden. Cluny, however, actively assisted Prince Charles to escape capture. After that disaster the house of Cluny was burned to the ground and for nine years the chief remained in hiding, chiefly on his own estate, and in spite of a reward of £ 1000 he was never captured, and ultimately escaped to France in 1755. The Cluny estates were forfeited, but in 1784 they were restored to Duncan, son of Ewen of “ the ’45.”
Crest: A cat sejant, proper. Badge: Creag Dhubh Chloinn Chatain ( The Black Rock Of Clan Chattan). Pipe music: Macpherson’s March.