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

The name Bassett is part of the ancient legacy of the early Norman inhabitants that arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Bassett was a Norman name used for a person of small stature having derived from the Old English word bas, meaning of low stature. [1]


The surname Bassett 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]

Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Bassett, Basset, Bassit, Basett and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bassett 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 Bassett History in all our PDF Extended History products.


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


Some of the Bassett 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.


Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Bassett name or one of its variants:

Bassett Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • William Bassett, who arrived in America in 1620
  • William Bassett, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1621
  • Williamn Bassett (c. 1600d. 1667), English master mason from Sandwich, Kent who arrived in Plymouth in November 1621 aboard the ship Fortune
  • Oliver Bassett, aged 14, arrived in America in 1635
  • Oliver Bassett who settled in Barbados in 1635

Bassett Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Thomas Bassett, who landed in New England in 1715
  • Cornelius Bassett, who landed in Newport, Rhode Island in 1780

Bassett Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Frederick Bassett, who landed in New York in 1826
  • Alexander Bassett, who arrived in New York, NY in 1834
  • George Bassett, who landed in New York in 1844
  • R G Bassett, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • Mr. Bassett, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851

Bassett Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Isaac Bassett, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Judith Bassett, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750

Bassett Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Robert Bassett settled at Pouch Cove, Newfoundland in 1871

Bassett Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • James B Bassett arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Diadem" in 1840
  • Alfred Bassett arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Fama" in 1841
  • George Bassett, English convict from London, who was transported aboard the "Agincourt" on July 6, 1844, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • John S Bassett arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Medway" in 1846
  • John S. Bassett arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Medway" in 1846

Bassett Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • William Bassett landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Duke of Roxburgh
  • William Bassett, aged 28, a shoemaker, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duke of Roxburgh" in 1840
  • Emma Rooke Bassett, aged 11 months, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duke of Roxburgh" in 1840
  • Thomas Bassett, aged 27, a farm labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1856
  • Harriet Bassett, aged 26, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1856


  • Ebenezer D. Bassett (1833-1908), the first African American diplomat, United States Ambassador to Haiti in 1869
  • Edgar R. Bassett (1914-1942), United States Navy officer who received the Navy Cross posthumously for his actions in combat during World War II
  • James E. Bassett Jr. (1912-1978), American newspaper editor and author, best known of his best-selling novel Harm's Way which later became a movie with the same name
  • Dave Bassett, American songwriter and record producer
  • Charles E. "Charlie" Bassett (1847-1896), American lawman and saloon owner in the early days of Dodge City, his deputies included Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson
  • Leslie Bassett (b. 1923), American composer, awarded the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his Variations for Orchestra
  • Angela Evelyn Bassett Vance (b. 1958), born Angela Evelyn Bassett, an American Golden Globe Award winning, Primetime Emmy Award nominated actor and film director
  • Captain Charles Arthur "Art" Bassett II (1931-1966), American electrical engineer and United States Air Force test pilot, selected as a NASA astronaut in 1963, but died in an airplane crash during training for his first spaceflight
  • Richard Bassett (1745-1815), American lawyer and politician, delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787
  • William Isiah Bassett (1869-1937), English footballer



  • Joseph Bassett, Englishman and American by Barbara M. Anderson.

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. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  3. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  4. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  5. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  6. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  7. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  8. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  9. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  10. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Bassett Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Bassett 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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