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The Bisset Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: ABSCISSA VIRESCIT (Cut me down and I shall grow again)

Let me share with you the captivating history of your family name, Bisset. It is said to originate from Normandy and arrived in Scotland when King William the Lion returned from captivity in England in 1174. Accompanying the king were young noblemen, seeking fortune in Scotland, and among them were the Biseys. Your family’s first recorded bearer in Scotland was Hericus Byset, who witnessed a royal charter sometime before 1198, according to George Black’s records. Alongside other Norman families, the Bissets successfully established themselves and acquired land in Morayshire. The family’s influence grew, and individuals bearing the name were witnesses to several charters in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. For instance, Thomas de Bissat witnessed a charter of Alexander III to Paisley Abbey.

However, the fortunes of the family took a dramatic turn due to an act of personal vengeance. In 1242, during a tournament held in Haddington, Walter Byset, Lord of Aboyne, was defeated by the young Earl of Atholl. Fueled by anger, Walter allegedly murdered the earl while he slept and set fire to his house to conceal the crime. Walter and his nephew John fled to Ireland and later sought refuge in England. The feud followed the fugitives, leading to a pardon granted to the son of the Earl of Atholl for slaying some Bissets in Ireland. Baldred Bisset, a clergyman from Stirlingshire, played a notable role as one of the commissioners representing Scotland’s interests during the First War of Independence. He was appointed to the Papacy and is credited with elaborating the national origin myths.

The main line of the Bisset family is now believed to be that of Lessendrum, which ranks among the oldest families in Aberdeenshire. The name continues to flourish in Aberdeenshire and Moray. Throughout history, several prominent lawyers bore the name, including the intriguingly named Habakkuk Bisset, who served as a Writer to the Signet during the reign of James IV. Peter Bisset, a member of the family, held the esteemed position of Professor of Canon Law at the University of Bologna in Italy. In the twentieth century, Commodore Sir James Gordon Partridge Bisset emerged as the most notable Bisset. He became the most decorated former officer of the Cunard line, having served as the second officer aboard the liner Carpathia when it responded to the distress call from the sinking Titanic. Bisset’s illustrious career at sea reached its pinnacle when he captained the liner Queen Elizabeth on its maiden voyage in 1946. Another noteworthy figure from your family history is Alan Bisset, a distinguished Scottish author and playwright.

As you delve into the heritage of your family, you discover a tale filled with adventure, triumphs, and notable individuals who have left their mark on Scotland’s history. The Bisset name carries a legacy of resilience and achievement, rooted in the Norman origins that shaped its early foundations. Embracing this history allows you to honor the remarkable journey of the Bisset family and carry their legacy forward with pride.

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The Family Crest

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Family Crest Motto: ABSCISSA VIRESCIT (Cut me down and I shall grow again)

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