Show ContentsBasnett History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Basnett family has descended through the lines of the ancient Normans that came to England following their Conquest of England in 1066. The Basnett name reveals that an early member was a person of small stature having derived from the Old English word bas, meaning of low stature. 1

Early Origins of the Basnett family

The surname Basnett was first found in Staffordshire where the family traces back to Thurston, a Norman who held six hides of land in Drayton (known today as Dayton Bassett.) Thurston was the "paternal ancestor of several families of Basset, which rose to power and distinction very shortly after the Conquest. Ralph Basset [(died 1265)], the illustrious founder of their greatness, is said to have been raised by Henry I, from a lowly condition, and to have been 'exalted above earls and other eminent men.' True it is he was constituted Justice of England, and invested with the power of sitting in whatever court he pleased." 2

"Thurstan Basset appears in the Roll of Battle Abbey." 3

One source claims that the family may have branched to Withcote in Leicestershire in ancient times. "At the south-western extremity of the parish [of Withcote] may be traced the foundations and embankments of Solay or Sawley Castle, a place of great importance in the baronial wars, supposed to have been built by the Bassett family." 4

The aforementioned Ralph Basset was father of Ralph Basset, 1st Lord Basset of Drayton and Maud (c. 1265-1299.) He rose to become Governor of Edinburgh Castle (1291-1296.) His son Ralph Basset III was killed at the Battle of Evesham one year after his appointment. Wooton-Bassett, a market-town and parish, and formerly a representative borough, in the union of Cricklade and Wootton-Bassett, hundred of Kingsbridge in Wiltshire was an ancient family seat.

"This place, which appears to have been originally of greater importance than it is at present, was, at the time of the Norman Conquest, called Wodeton, from wode, a wood, and tun, a town. About a century after that period, it became the property of the noble family of Bassett, from whom it derived the adjunct to its name." 4

"At the upper end of the north aisle [of the church at Blore, Staffordshire], within a kind of chantry chapel, is a noble altar-tomb of statuary marble, supposed to be to the memory of William, the last male heir of the Bassetts, who was living in 1588; there is also a brass, dated 1400, in the aisle." 4

Early History of the Basnett family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Basnett research. Another 79 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1050, 1093, 1198, 1330, 1597, 1602, 1625, 1626, 1628, 1640, 1641, 1644, 1656, 1669, 1673, 1674, 1679, 1681, 1687, 1688, 1693, 1695, 1720, 1721 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Basnett History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Basnett Spelling Variations

Before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Sound was what guided spelling in the Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Basnett family name include Bassett, Basset, Bassit, Basett and others.

Early Notables of the Basnett family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Lord Basset of Drayton; Lord Basset of Weldon; Sir Robert Basset of Umberley, a colonel in the English Army; Arthur Basset (1597-1673), an English politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1625 to 1626; William Bassett (c. 1602-1656), an English landowner and politician, Member of Parliament for...
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Basnett Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Basnett family to Ireland

Some of the Basnett family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 50 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Basnett migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious chaos of this era, thousands of English families began to migrate to the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. The passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe; however, those who made the voyage safely were encountered opportunities that were not available to them in their homeland. Many of the families that reached the New World at this time went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of the United States and Canada. Research into various historical records has revealed some of first members of the Basnett family to immigrate North America:

Basnett Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Basnett, who landed in Virginia in 1637 5
  • Richard Basnett, who landed in New Jersey in 1678 5
  • Theophilus Basnett, aged 22, who arrived in America in 1686 5
Basnett Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • John Basnett, aged 48, who landed in America from Prescott, Lancashire, in 1905
  • Richard Basnett, aged 25, who immigrated to the United States from St. Helens, England, in 1912
  • Thomas Basnett, aged 17, who immigrated to America, in 1918
  • Robert J. Basnett, aged 27, who landed in America from Liverpool, England, in 1920
  • Robert Basnett, aged 22, who settled in America, in 1921
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Basnett (post 1700) +

  • Alfred Basnett (1893-1966), English professional footballer
  • Dr. Ian Nicholas Basnett O.B.E., British Director of Public Health and Associate Medical Director for Barts Health NHS Trust, was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire on 8th June 2018, for services to Public Health 6
  • David Basnett (1924-1989), British trade union leader, President of the TUC (1978)
  • Fredrick Basnett (b. 1924), British former professional footballer
  • John Basnett, British former professional rugby league footballer

The Basnett Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Pro rege et populo
Motto Translation: For King and people.

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  3. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  4. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  5. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62507, 28 December 2018 | London Gazette, The Gazette, Dec. 2018, on Facebook