Clan Bissett

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.

Clan Bissett
MottoAbscissa Virescit (That torn down re-grows)[1]
Clan Bissett has no chief, and is an armigerous clan
Historic seatAboyne Castle[2]


Origins of the clan

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

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

Clan profile

  • 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. 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. 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

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