Clan Bisset History

The first record of this name in Scotland is that of Henricus Byset who witnessed a charter of William the Lion, granted before 1198. His son was John Byset who witnessed a charter by Henry de Graham in 1204, and obtained from the king a grant of lands in the north.

Thomas de Bessat witnessed a Paisley charter in 1204 and in 1224 William Bisseth witnessed confirmation by Alexander II of a yar super Leven.

Walter Biset witnessed a charter by Alexander II concerning the levying of tolls at the Cross of Shettlestone in 1226 and in 1232 Walter Byseth and William Byset witnessed a charter by Alexander II to Gylandris to Gylandris MacLeod in Brechin.

In 1242 the family experienced a sudden decline in their fortunes after a Tournament held in Haddington that year. Walter Byset, lord of Aboyne was worsted by the young Earl of Atholl.

Walter took revenge and killed the Earl by setting fire to the house in which he slept. Walter and his nephew John Byset were exiled from the kingdom and excommunicated by the bishop of Aberdeen.
In 1251 Walter Biset was found seized of his manor of Ulvington upon his death.

The following year (1252) a pardon was granted to Alan, Earl of Atholl and son of Thomas, for killing some of John Biset in Ireland – most likely a continuation of the blood feud.

In 1364 Walter Buset of Lessendrum as sheriff substitute of Banff, presided at a court held there in which the bishop of Moray obtained a verdict finding that three men, Robert, Nevin and Donald were the natives and leige-men of the bishop, the church of Moray and his property.

Jacobus Besat is recorded as prior of St Andrews in 1395 and Thomas Byssate had a tenement in Glasgow in 1486.

There are still many Bissets living in Aberdeenshire and Moray. The family’s principle residence was the Lessendrum estate in Aberdeenshire from the 13th century until 1981.