Buesnel family page
A Buesnel family picnic early in the 20th century
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Origin of Surname
Various possibilities exist for the origin of this surname. Busnel is a common name in Normandy and Brittany and is believed to have been derived from Burnel, another common name in the area, known also in Guernsey. In that Island, the 1309 Assizes Roll mentions Ralph Burnel, Chaplain, together with Philip and Colin, his brothers and Raulina and Alice, his sisters, as being landowners. A member of this family may well have migrated in the late 15th century from Guernsey to Jersey, as did several other families at that particular epoch.
Although less likely, the surname might also be connected with that of Brunel, and brun, the French for brown. Alternatively it is suggested that it could come from the diminutive of the the Nordic 'Bjorn' (the bear), or the Scandinavian name Burnouf.
Another argument has the name as a diminutive form of the French buse, a bird of prey of the falcon family. A coat of arms granted to the Busnel family of Brittany is recorded in Riestap's Armorial General and depicts a black buzzard on a silver shield.
Although it is quite often wrongly suggested that the name arrived in Jersey with 17th century Huguenot refugees, it was actually present in the Island at least a century earlier, making it more likely that the first Huguenot Buesnels, if there were any, arrived with the first wave of refugees, following the Massacre of St Bartholomew in 1572. However, there are no Buesnels listed in the 17th century Abjurations.
It is now known that the Buesnel family was established in the Island well before the first Huguenots arrived. Geoffrey Buesnel of St Clement is mentioned in the Extente of 1528, whilst there was baptised in St Saviour in 1540 Perronelle, daughter of Collas Buesnel and Collette, his wife. A Buesnel genealogy at the Société Jersiaise mentions the death of a Nicolas (or Collas) Buesnel in 1543, perhaps that of the same man.
Great War service
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