Clan Bissett

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Clan Bissett
MottoAbscissa Virescit (That torn down re-grows)[1]
Clan Bissett no longer has a chief, and is an armigerous clan
Historic seatAboyne Castle[2]
Clan branches
Bisset of Aboyne (historic chiefs)[3]
Bisset of Lessendrum (senior cadets)[3]
Mac Eoin Bissett family (Ireland)
Rival clans
Earls of Atholl (13th century)

Clan Bissett (Bisey, Byset, Bisset or Bissert) is a Scottish clan. The clan is recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms but does not have a clan chief recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms, therefore the clan has no standing under Scots Law.[3] Clan Bissett is considered an armigerous clan, meaning that it is considered to have had at one time a chief who possessed the chiefly arms; however, no one at present is in possession of such arms. The surname Bissett is also considered a sept of the Clan Fraser of Lovat.


Origins of the clan[edit]

The surname Bisset is believed to be of Norman origin and was brought to Scotland when William the Lion returned from captivity in England, accompanied by the Biseys.[3] The Bysets settled in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in England.[4] They appear with other Norman families to have successfully established themselves and gained land in Morayshire, Scotland.[3] The power of the family spread and persons bearing the surname witnessed several charters in the 13th and 14th centuries.[3] A charter of Alexander III of Scotland to Paisley Abbey was witnessed by Thomas de Bissat.[3]

The rising fortunes of the family were eclipsed however by a feud with the Earl of Atholl.[3] In 1242 at a tournament held at Haddington, Walter Byset, Lord of Aboyne was defeated by the youthful Earl of Atholl (possibly Padraig, Earl of Atholl).[3] Allegedly, Byset, in a fit of anger murdered the earl while he slept and then set fire to his house to conceal the crime.[3] Walter Byset and his nephew John then fled to Ireland and then to England.[3] The feud followed the two fugitives as a pardon was later granted to the son of the Earl of Atholl for killing some Bysets in Ireland.[3]

Habakkuk Bisset was a lawyer and Writer to the Signet during the reign of James IV of Scotland.[3]

20th and 21st centuries[edit]

The principal line of the clan is now that of Bisset of Lessendrum, one of the oldest families in Aberdeenshire.[3]

Clan profile[edit]

  • Motto: (Latin: Abscissa Virescit - English That torn down re-grows)
  • Crest: The trunk of an oak tree sprouting a fresh Proper.


The following is a list of castles known to have been in the ownership of the family:




  1. ^ Clan Bisset Profile Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Coventry, Martin. (2008). Castles of the Clans: The Strongholds and Seats of 750 Scottish Families and Clans. pp. 44 - 45. ISBN 978-1-899874-36-1.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Way, George and Squire, Romily. (1994). Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). pp. 362.
  4. ^ "Battle Abbey Roll - Byseg". 2009. Retrieved 16 November 2009.

Further reading[edit]

  • Temple, Rev. William. The Thanage of Fermartyn, quoted on, History of Bissets of Lessendrum 1251-1894