Origin of Surname
The surname Bisson is one of the oldest names in the Channel Islands. Originally du Buisson.
The derivation of the original du Buisson name is thought to be from the French for bush or thicket, suggesting that a du Buisson ancestor was living in a bushy area, possibly outside a village or settlement.
The Le Gros Bissons, farming people of St Ouen and Saint Mary in the north-west of Jersey were the first Channel Island family to have a double-barrelled name. It was not created, in the same way that so many more recent double-barrelled names were, by the marriage of a Bisson to a Le Gros, but is thought to have been used to distinguish between two Bissons living in the same area, one larger (or fatter) than the other.
The name du Buisson is first mentioned in relation to the Channel Islands in the archives of St Lo in Normandy in 1149 Sir Geoffrey du Buisson was given the rights to the Parish Church of St Martin du Grouville in Jersey. There is a mention in August a year earlier of the same Sir Geoffrey giving lands to Abbey St Trinité at Lessay. Sir Yon de Buisson is mentioned in the 1315-1339 records of the same abbey, as is Colin du Buisson.
There are various Bisson coats of arms of dubious authenticity, the majority of which feature a tree or bush as the main subject. The loss of the 'u' from the name came about because the pronunciation in Norman-French patois was identical whichever way the name was spelt.
The earliest claimed ancestors of present-day Bissons in Jersey are Nicolas Bisson, of the St Brelade branch of the family, born about 1440, Robin Le Gros Bisson, of the St Ouen branch of the family, born about 1450, and Perrin Bisson, of the Trinity branch, born about 1495.
The name du Buisson features in the Assize Roll of 1309, and this has been taken as the earliest reference to the family being resident in the Island. However, this reference is simply a confirmation by King Edward II of the donation of the church of St Martin de Grouville mentioned above, and it is by no means certain that the family had settled in the island by then. It would not have been long, however, because family historian Mrs Auguste Messervy, widow of J A Messervy suggests in a history of the Bisson family of St Brelade and St Lawrence written early in the 20th century that Nicolas Bisson and Perrin Bisson are both descended from Richard du Buisson, an elector of St Brelade in 1324, and Colin du Buisson, his son, who held land in the parish in 1330, as shown in the Extente of 1331. All the available evidence therefore points to the family having settled in the island early in the 14th century, but this could be seen as somewhat unusual given that the island had by then been separated from Normandy for 100 years and property-owning families did not tend to move from the mainland to the island at that time.
Eight Bissons are listed in the Jersey Chantry Certificate of 1550.
It is not known whether the earliest Guernsey Bissons arrived in that island direct from France or were from earlier Jersey families.
- du Buisson
Bisson lineages in Jersey
- The Le Gros Bisson family of St Ouen and St Mary
- Descendants of Daniel Bisson of Trinity
- Descendants of Nicolas Bisson 1440-1503
- Descendants of Jean Bisson and Jeanne Gruchy
- Descendants of Beniamin Bisson, there is some overlap between this tree, which goes back further, and the previous tree
- Descendants of Jean Bisson and Jeanne de Gruchy - 2 another version of the tree with a different descendancy
The two trees below link, with the second taking the first further down
- Descendants of Collas Bisson
- Descendents of Jean Bisson and Jeanne Baudains
- Descendants of Francois Bisson and Marie Bree of St Martin
Bisson baptisms and marriages in Jersey
- Bisson baptisms to 1842, This is believed to be a full list of Bisson baptisms in the 12 parish church registers from their inception to 1842, when births were recorded centrally in Jersey. It includes some members of the Le Gros Bisson family whose births have been indexed in certain parishes under Bisson
- Le Gros Bisson baptisms to 1842, This is a list of those members of the Bisson family whose births were indexed under Le Gros Bisson
- Bisson marriages to 1842, a full list of marriages, by parish, with the exception of St Helier - NEW
- St Helier baptisms 1842-1909
Bisson family histories in Jersey
- Bisson Family of St Brelade and St Lawrence, history by Auguste Messervy
- Bisson family of St Lawrence, from Payne's Armorial
Bisson lineages in Guernsey
Fief du Buisson
Le Fief du Buisson can be traced back to the 14th Century, although in these early records it has already passed out of family possession.
Family baptism names
Emigration to the New World
Bissons from Jersey were among some of the earliest emigrants to both Canada and the United States of America. In Canada the name was usually retained by immigrants from the Channel Islands and France but the descendants of three Le Gros Bisson brothers and a nephew who emigrated to Marblehead, Massachussetts, in the early 18th century adopted anglicised versions of the name, including Besom, Besome and Besume.
- A privateer's tale A narrative of a privateer's life by Captain Philip Besom 1760-1836
Bissons in battle
Mike Bisson looks back at the role of some of his ancestors in conflicts of the past - see article
Notable family members
- Benjamin Bisson, Constable of St Lawrence, Jurat and Parliamentarian
- Bisson family - Stephen Foote's Family History pages.