Bessack History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
One of the most common classes of Scottish surnames is the patronymic surname, which arose out of the vernacular and religious naming traditions. The vernacular or regional naming tradition is the oldest and most pervasive type of patronymic surname. According to this custom, names were originally composed of vocabulary elements from the local language. Patronymic surnames of this type were usually derived from the personal name of the original bearer's father. The surname Bessack is derived from the name "Byset or Bisset, a baronial name well known both in England and Normandy, and though not written in Domesday, to be met with as early as the reign of Henry I. William Biset, in 1130, held lands in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire." 
"Sir Thomas Gray in his Scalacronica states that William the Lion in 1174, on his return from captivity in Falaise and in England, brought back young Englishmen of family to seek their fortune in the Scottish Court; and among these were named the "Biseys". The first of the name recorded in Scotland is Henricus Byset, who witnessed a charter by William the Lion granted before 1198. His son, John Byset, who witnessed a charter by Henry de Graham in 1204, was the individual who obtained from the king the grant of lands in the north." 
Early Origins of the Bessack family
The surname Bessack was first found in Ross-shire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Rois) a former county, now part of the Council Areas of Highland and Western Isles in Northern Scotland, which emerged from the Gaelic lordship of the Earl of Ross.
One of the first records of the family was Baldred Bisset or Bissait (fl. 1303), a native of the county of Stirling who became Rector of Kinghorn, in the diocese of St. Andrews. "When in 1300 and 1301 a discussion arose between the pope Boniface VIII, King Edward of England, and the Scottish government, with regard to the independence of Scotland, Bisset was appointed one of the commissioners to the Pope to represent the claims of Scotland. " 
Thomas de Bessat witnessed a Paisley charter a. 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 Schedenestun (Shettleston) in 1226, and in 1232 Walter Byseth and William Byset witnessed a charter by Alexander II to Gylandris MacLod in Brechin. 
"In 1242 the power of the Bissets was brought to a sudden end, though they still continued to be a family of importance. At a tournament held at Haddington in that year Walter Byset, lord of Aboyne, was worsted by the young earl of Atholl. In revenge Byset is stated to have burned the house in which the earl slept, and the earl with it. For this crime Walter Byset and his nephew, John Byset (founder of the Priory of Beauly in 1231), were exiled the kingdom, their property devolving to others of the family. At the desire of Sir William Byset and to free him of suspicion of guilt, Ralph, bishop of Aberdeen excommunicated those who had partaken of the murder of the earl at Haddington." 
Sir William Bisset ( Byset or Bissett), son of Robert Bisset of Upsettlington, was a Scottish knight, Sheriff of Clackmannan (1303-1304), Sheriff of Stirling (1304-1305) and Constable of Stirling Castle (1305-1307.)
Further south in England, Manser or Manasser Bisset, Lord of Kidderminster in Worcestershire, was Sewer to King Stephen, and in 1165 held a fee at Chaucy in the bailifry of Coutances. He was "one of the Witnesses to the Accord made betwixt that King and Henry Duke of Normandy, touching the Succession of the said Henry to the Crown of this Realm." Henry had no heir, and was succeeded by another Henry, his nephew, and then by John Biset, Chief Forester of England under Henry III., mentioned "at the great Tournament held at Northampton in 1241, occasioned by Peter de Savoy, Earl of Richmond, against Earl Roger Bigod." 
Early History of the Bessack family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bessack research. Another 138 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1174, 1198, 1242, 1395, 1486, 1568, 1679, 1758, 1834, 1782, 1758, 1771, 1775, 1779 and 1782 are included under the topic Early Bessack History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Bessack Spelling Variations
Scottish surnames are distinguished by a multitude of spelling variations because, over the centuries, the names were frequently translated into and from Gaelic. Furthermore, the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent because medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules. The different versions of a surname, such as the inclusion of the patronymic prefix "Mac", frequently indicated a religious or Clan affiliation or even a division of the family. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into Scotland, accelerating accentuating the alterations to various surnames. The name Bessack has also been spelled Bissett, Bisset, Bisside, Bisseth, Bizet, Biseth and others.
Early Notables of the Bessack family (pre 1700)
Notable among the family at this time was Peter Bisset, Bissat or Bissart (d. 1568), Professor of Canon Law in the University of Bologna, Italy. He was a native of the county of Fife, and a descendant by a previous marriage of Sir Thomas Bisset...
Another 45 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bessack Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Bessack family to Ireland
Some of the Bessack family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 118 words (8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Bessack family
Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Bessack, or a variant listed above: Elly Bisset who settled in Carolina in 1695; James Bisset settled in New England in 1752.
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 Translation: I flourish again.
- Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 1 of 3
- Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
- Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print