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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, French

Following the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, the name Basset was first found in Britina. It was a name for a person of small stature having derived from the Old English word bas, meaning of low stature. [1]


The surname Basset 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] 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." [3] 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." [3] "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." [3]

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Basset are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Basset include Bassett, Basset, Bassit, Basett and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Basset research. Another 157 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1093, 1198, 1597, 1673, 1625, 1626, 1602, 1656, 1640, 1644, 1644, 1695, 1628, 1693, 1669, 1679, 1681, 1693, 1641, 1720, 1687, 1688, 1674, 1721 and are included under the topic Early Basset History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 211 words (15 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Basset Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Basset family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 87 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Basset, or a variant listed above:

Basset Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • William Basset, who arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621
  • William Basset in Virginia in 1622
  • George Basset in Virginia 1637
  • Henry Basset, who landed in Barbados in 1663
  • Francis Basset, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1682

Basset Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Thomas Basset, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1700
  • John Basset, who arrived in Virginia in 1754
  • Claude Basset settled in Louisiana in 1756

Basset Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • James Basset, aged 25, arrived in New York in 1849

Basset Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century

  • Benigne Basset, who landed in Montreal in 1657
  • Jean Basset, aged 17, landed in Canada in 1657

Basset Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Isaac Basset, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749

Basset Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • John Basset, aged 23, arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "William Money"


  • Francis Basset FRS (1757-1835), 1st Baron de Dunstanville and Basset, an English nobleman and politician
  • John Basset (1791-1843), English writer on Cornish mining
  • Anne Charles Basset de Montaigu, French Divisional General during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars from 1789 to 1815
  • Francis Basset (1715-1769), Cornish landowner and politician
  • Sarah Basset (d. 1730), slave and alleged witch in the British colony Bermuda in the West Indies
  • Frances Basset (1781-1855), 2nd Baroness Basset, British peeress
  • Delfin Carbonell Basset (b. 1938), contemporary lexicographer


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.


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  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. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  2. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  3. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  4. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  5. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  6. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  7. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  9. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  10. Crispin, M. Jackson and Leonce Mary. Falaise Roll Recording Prominent Companions of William Duke of Normandy at the Conquest of England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Basset Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Basset Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 18 March 2016 at 14:16.

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