Show ContentsBasset History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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]

Early Origins of the Basset family

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]

"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 Basset family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Basset 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 Basset History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Basset Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Basset 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 Bath (1640-1644), supported the Royalist cause in the English Civil War
  • William Basset (1644-1695), an English divine
  • Sir William Bassett (1628-1693), an English landowner and politician, Member of Parliament for Bath (1669-1679) and (1681-1693)
  • Joshua Bassett or Basset (c. 1641-c.1720), an English academic, Master of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (1687-1688)

Basset Ranking

In France, the name Basset is the 709th most popular surname with an estimated 6,833 people with that name. [5]

Ireland Migration of the Basset family to Ireland

Some of the Basset 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 Basset migration to the United States +

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, from Middlesex, who arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621 aboard the ship "Fortune" [6]
  • Mrs. Elizabeth Basset, from Middlesex who arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621 aboard the ship "Fortune" [7]
  • William Basset in Virginia in 1622
  • George Basset in Virginia 1637
  • Francis Basset, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1682 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Basset Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Thomas Basset, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1700 [6]
  • John Basset, who arrived in Virginia in 1754 [6]
  • Claude Basset, who settled in Louisiana in 1756
  • Mrs. Marie Josephe Basset, (nee Richard), (b. 1755), aged 30, French widow traveling aboard the ship "L'Amitie" arriving in New Orleans, Louisiana on 8th November 1785 [8]
  • Miss Marie Basset, (b. 1780), aged 5, French settler traveling aboard the ship "L'Amitie" arriving in New Orleans, Louisiana on 8th November 1785 [8]
Basset Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Basset, aged 25, who arrived in New York in 1849 [6]

Canada Basset migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Basset Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century
  • Francois Basset, who landed in Quebec in 1643
  • Mr. Jean Basset, French settler travelling to Canada to work for Antoine Grignon, Pierre Gaigneur, and Jacques Massé, arriving on 22nd March 1657 [9]
  • Benigne Basset, who landed in Montreal in 1657
  • Jean Basset, aged 17, who landed in Canada in 1657
Basset Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Isaac Basset, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749

Australia Basset migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Basset Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Basset, aged 23, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "William Money" [10]
  • Mr. James Basset, (b. 1830), aged 21, Cornish settler convicted in Cornwall, UK on 29th July 1848, sentenced for 15 years for setting fire to a workshop that belonged to his employer, Mr. Coleridge, at Penzance, transported aboard the ship "Mermaid" on 30th December 1850 to Western Australia, Australia [11]
  • Mr. Joseph Basset, (b. 1828), aged 30, Cornish settler convicted in Bodmin, Cornwall, UK on 28th July 1856, sentenced for life for burglary in the house of Mrs. Ryan at Falmouth, transported aboard the ship "Nile" on 18th September 1857 to Western Australia, Australia [11]

West Indies Basset migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [12]
Basset Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Henry Basset, who landed in Barbados in 1663 [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Basset (post 1700) +

  • 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
  • René Basset (1919-2021), French photographer who received the Niépce Prize in 1958
  • Anne Charles Basset de Montaigu, French Divisional General during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars from 1789 to 1815 [13]
  • 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
  • Basset Maguire, American Botanist

The Basset 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.
  6. 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)
  7. Pilgrim Ship's of 1600's Retrieved January 6th 2023, retrieved from
  8. 7 Ships Acadian Expedition of 1785. Retrieved 14th October 2021 from
  9. Debien, Gabriel. Liste Des Engagés Pour Le Canada Au XVIIe Siècle. Vol. 6, Laval University, 1952. (Retreived 24th May 2018). Retrieved from
  10. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) "WILLIAM MONEY" 1848-49. Retrieved from
  11. Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from
  13. Generals Who Served in the French Army during the Period 1789-1815. (Retrieved 2015, February 11) Anne Basset. Retrieved from on Facebook