The Thanage of Fermartyn

Bisset Resources Pages


This book was published in 1894 by David Wyllie & Son of Aberdeen, a firm which is no longer in existence. As the author died in 1906 and no successor to the publisher has been located, it has not been possible to obtain permission for this reproduction of pages 244 to 256.

Thanks to Katrine McLean (add-katr.bmp (5950 bytes)) for sharing the typing of this work.

Footnotes have been omitted from this page, but are reproduced in full in the Word 97 Version.


















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"Abscissa Viresco."


THE Bissets of Lessendrum, one of the most ancient families in the county of Aberdeen, were in possession of that barony long before the war of Independence. During their long sojourn there, they have had many changes of neighbours at Frendraught, Strathbogie, Cobairdy, and Rothiemay ; but there has always been a Bisset at Lessendrum.

The present representative of the family is Mrs. Janet Elrington Bisset, daughter of the late Venerable Maurice George Fenwick, some time Archdeacon of Raphoe, and Harriot Bisset, heiress of Lessendrum. Mrs. Elrington Bisset married J. Favière Elrington, LL.D., Q.C., eldest son of Rev. Charles R. Elrington, Regius Professor of Divinity, Trinity College, Dublin, and Rector of Armagh, by Letitia, his wife ; had issue, of whom afterwards.

The name of Bisset, Biset, Byset, or Bisaitte, as it was sometimes spelt, was of Norman extraction, and belonged to a family who came into Scotland in the reign of William the Lion. The " 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 fortunes in the Scottish Court ; among these were named the "Biseys."

One branch settled in the county of Berwick, and another in the north of Scotland, where they had possessions in the counties of Ross, Banff, and Aberdeen. In the latter county they had Aboyne and probably Lessendrum ; Beaufort near Beauly was one of their seats in the county of Ross, where, in 1230, John Byset founded a priory, the remains of which are still to be seen. In 1226, he also founded a leper's house in connection with the church of St. Peter's, Rathven, in the county of Banff. On 19 June, 1226, John Biset granted to the church of St. Peter's, and the house of lepers at Rathven, and the brethren serving these, the church of Kiltarlity with its pertinents. In 1222, Alexander II., by a charter dated at Fyuyn (Fyvie), 22 February, and witnessed by Robert, his chaplain, John Byset, Walter Byset, and confirmed by William Comyn, Earl of Buchan, grants to the monks of Arbroath, the church of Buthelny (now Meldrum). Between the years 1221-1236, Walter Byset (Aboyne) founded the preceptory of the Knights' Templars at Culter on the Dee, and in 1237, Alexander II. granted the Knights a charter of liberty to acquire lands. The building included a chapel, and Walter Byset also gave to the preceptory the church of Aboyne. On 17 August, 1233, Walter and William Byset both witnessed at Strivelin a charter of King Alexander II. to the monks of May.

In the year 1240, according to the author of the " Priory of Beauly, " the Bysets possessed the following estates :- Walter Byset was lord of Aboyne, and resided at Aboyne Castle. His nephew, Sir John Byset, was lord of the Aird, and resided at either Lovat or Beaufort, in the county of Ross. Another nephew, William, was patron of the church, and probably owner of the estate of Abertarff in the same county ; and Robert Byset, cousin of Walter's, was lord of Upsetlington, in the county of Berwick.

In 1242, these Bysets, according to Robertson's " Historical Sketches," were involved in a very sad affair. Walter Byset of Aboyne, at a tournament held near Haddington, encountered Patrick of Galloway, Earl of Athol, a young nobleman of great promise, whose father, Thomas, the younger brother of Alan the Constable, had acquired the Earldom by his marriage with Isabella, the heiress of the fief. Byset was overthrown by his youthful competitor, and as a feud appears to have existed between the families, a fierce desire of vengeance was aroused in the hearts of Byset's kinsmen and followers, and on the night after the tournament, the unsuspecting Earl of Athol, who is said to have been vainly warned of his danger by the wife of his enemy, was burned to death, with two of his attendants, in the house where they were sleeping at Haddington. Some said the building was fired to conceal a previous murder ; others declared the wood had been purposely heaped up on every side to prevent the escape of the inmates.

The Earl of Dunbar, and all the friends and partisans of the sufferer, united in denouncing the Bysets as the perpetrators of the crime, accusing Walter of Aboyne of instigating his nephew, William Byset, to the commission of the actual murder. Nor did they stop here, for they aimed at eradicating the very name of Byset from the land, openly charging the head of the family, Walter, lord of Aboyne, with abetting the bloody doings of his kinsmen.

It was in vain that William Byset protested his innocence, whilst the Queen offered to prove that he was in attendance upon her at Forfar on the actual night of the catastrophe ; for the Royal party had been staying at Aboyne, and after the departure of Alexander the King, the Queen was returning southwards, under the escort of William Byset, on the very day of the tournament at Haddington. It was in vain also that Walter Byset caused his chaplains to excommunicate all who were implicated in the murder, entreating the Bishop of Aberdeen to publish a similar sentence throughout the Diocese. His cognisances had been recognised in the town of Haddington ; his retainers had been seen during the night of the fire, and these were sufficient proofs of guilt in the eyes of John and the Red Comyn, and his uncle, the Earl of Monteith, to justify their harrying the lands of the obnoxious baron, who sought shelter from their attacks within the walls of the castle of Aboyne.

Incensed at this lawless outrage, for he had already appointed a day for the trial of William Byset at Forfar, Alexander despatched a party of his immediate followers to the north, forbidding the Comyns to prosecute their private feud, and charging the authorities of Mar with the safe conduct of the accused to the place of trial. On the appointed day Byset arrived at Forfar, and offered to prove his innocence by the wager of battle, declining to submit to the judgment of his peers, probably on the plea that they were prejudiced against him, and preferred, for good reason, to throw himself on the mercy of the King. Alexander postponed his decision until the assemblage of the great " moot " at Edinburgh, in which it was determined that the Bysets should be banished from the country, forfeiting all their possessions, and only escaping death by " swearing " on the " sacred relics " to devote the remainder of their lives to warring against the infidel for the benefit of Earl Patrick's soul. The Bysets, however, do not appear, notwithstanding their oath, to have considered it at all incumbent upon them to peril their own lives in a foreign land for the good of their murdered victim's soul. They fled to Ireland and to England, and we find them under the protection of King Henry III. Walter is said to have represented himself to the King as the victim of a rebellious faction, which the Scottish King was unable to control, and denied the right of the Scottish King, Alexander, to deprive him of his lands, artfully asserting that as Henry was the superior Lord of Scotland, his consent ought to be obtained before any baron could be forfeited.

In Bain’s " Calendar of Documents," we find the following references to the Bysets, and the assistance afforded them by the English Court. In 1242, the King has committed to Walter Byset (Aboyne?) the manor of Ludeham to sustain himself at the King's service during pleasure. Again, in the same year the keepers of the Bishopric of Winchester are commanded out of its rents to let Walter Byset (Aboyne?) have thirty merks of the King's gift. Also, in 1245, the King directs to his treasurer a writ for payment from the treasury without delay to Walter Byset (Aboyne?) of eighty merks by the King's gift. John Byset (Beauly?) has a similar writ for fifty merks. In 1255 there is the following entry :- " The King (Henry III.) directs the Mayor and the Bailiffs of Newcastle-on-Tyne to pay from their farm of --- forty shillings to the King's valet, William Byset, for his pack horse lost in the King's service." We see from the above extracts that the Bysets received an asylum and assistance from the King of England, and during their sojourn at the English Court, they are said to have stirred up no good will between the English and Scottish Kings. Notwithstanding their forfeiture, and though they never again attained the influence they formerly had with the Scottish Kings, the Bysets still remained a family of considerable influence and importance.

John Byset, jun. of Beauly, as we learn from " Bain's Calendar," left three daughters co-heiresses :- Cecilia Byset was wife of William de Fenton, whose descendants held the superiority of Lessendrum down to the beginning of the sixteenth century. Elizabeth Byset married Andrew de Bosco, from whom the Roses of Kilravock and other branches of that family are descended. Muriella, the youngest daughter, became wife of David de Graham. Regarding the division of their property after their father's decease there are the following notices :- " In 1278, Cecilia, eldest daughter, appoints her husband, William de Fenton, to receive in the King's Court her share of her father's property in Ireland." There is a similar appointment by the other two sisters, Elizabeth and Muriella, to their husbands, Andrew de Bosco and David de Graham.




The following is their descent :-


I. Walter Byset of Aboyne and probably of Lessendrum.


His history has been above recorded. He died in 1251, and was succeeded by his nephew,


II. Thomas Byset of Aboyne, &c.


There is little record of him, but he was probably father of


III. Walter Byset of Aboyne and Lessendrum.


We find Walter de Byset of the county of Aberdeen swearing, in 1296, fealty to Edward I. for his possessions in that county. We also find, in 1304, Walter Byset of Lessendrum. His name occurs in the following, record :- " Gilbert de Buttergask of that ilk held the lands of Buttergask down to 1304, when Walter de Bysett, dominus de Lossindrum, got a charter of all the lands of Buttergask with their pertinents, to be held by the said Walter and his heirs, 'jure hæreditario in perpetuum,' as freely as held by said Gilbert de Buttergask, &c., paying therefore annually at two terms, upon ground of said land, six shillings and eightpence sterling, good and legal money. The deed is given anno grê cc quarto (1304)." Also Walter de Byset received a charter in the time of Robert the Bruce, after 1306, of the lands of Aboyne. These three Walter Bysets may be one and the same, namely, Walter de Byset of Aboyne and Lessendrum. The next to be found is


IV. Thomas Byset of Aboyne, &c.


In Robertson's " Index of Missing Charters " in the time of David II., circa 1340, we find a charter to Thomas Byset of the lands of Aboyne. He may have been the father or near relative of


V. Walter Byset of Lessendrum.


Of him we find several notices. He seems to have been a very important gentleman, and is often found taking part in public business. In 1355, Walter Byset of Lessendrum is witness to a charter of the lands of Balhagardy, in the Garioch, given by Thomas, Earl of Mar, and Lord Garioch, to Lord Robert Erskine, knight, and to Christian Keith, his spouse. In 1357, Walter Byset of Lessendrum is witness to a charter of Ade de Strachanen and Margaret, his spouse, of a portion of the lands of Glenkinety (Glenkindy), and one fourth part of Glenbowel. In 1364, in a prosecution and sentence " super nativis," he is described as " Walterus Byset, dominus de Lessendrum, locum tenens vicecomitis de Banff." In another of the same year we find "Walterus dictus Byseth de Losthindrum." There is among the family papers at Lessendrum an old and curious deed of surrender, by which Walter Byset makes over the whole lands of Lessendrum to William de Fenton, the Pope's legate, to be held by the Holy See - a method often followed in troublous times for the safe keeping of estates. There is no deed of restoration, but the fact of the deed of cession being in the possession of the proprietor of Lessendrum is proof of a restoration having taken place. The deed is drawn up by William Lenix, clerk of the Diocese of Brechin, and runs as follows :- " In ye name of the Lord. Amen. In ye year after the Incarnation, 1379, on the 14th day of July, in ye 2d of ye indiction, and in ye 1st year of ye Pontificate of the most Holy Father in Christ, Clement, by Divine Providence, Pope VII. of that name. In the presence of my notary, &c." The original is in Latin and written on vellum. At the date of this instrument there were two Popes, Urban and Clement. The former was acknowledged by England, and the latter by Scotland. The next, a son probably, was


VI. Patrick Byset of Lessendrum.


He is mentioned as a witness to an agreement of date 1387. " Concordia inter dominum Episcopum Aberdonensem et Johannem de Forbes, &c., testibus Patricio Byset de Lessendrum, Wilelmo de Camera, &c." This Patrick, or probably his son, led, in 1411, the immediate Crown vassals of Strathbogie to the battle of Harlaw. This is mentioned in one of the poetical accounts of the battle. The next to be found also bears the same name.


VII. Patrick Byset of Lessendrum.


There is no doubt that others intervene between this Patrick and his predecessor, there being nearly eighty-two years between the two dates ; but they have left no trace in history of their existence, not even " umbra nominis."

In " Douglas' Baronage," we find this Patrick as a witness to an arbitration in 1492 between Alexander, vicar of Aberchirder, and Alexander Innes of Innes. He also takes part in " Perambulatione terarum ecclesie de Aberkerdour vocatarum le Yochry et Acbrady " along with William Meldrum de Fyvy, Alexander Murray de Cuthbardy, Patricius Thane de Inverkeithney, 1493. In 1498, Patrick Byset de Lessendrum takes part in the inquest of Alexander Bosuele.

Patrick Byset married Isobel Lindsay, and had issue by her a son and three daughters :-

I. Patrick, his successor.

1. A daughter, married to Alexander Gordon of Tillytarmont, who fell at Pinkie in 1547.

2. Beatrice, married to Walter Leslie, second laird of New Leslie.

3. A daughter, married to William Leslie, first laird of Crichie.

Patrick Byset died in 1503.

In October, 1503, Isobel Lindsay, widow of Patrick Byset of Lessendrum, was found entitled to her tierce of the lands of Lessendrum, Mayns of Lessendrum, Cruche (Cruchie), Leys, &c. He was succeeded by his son,


VIII. Patrick Byset of Lessendrum.


In 1505, we find him taking a part in the inquisition of George Abercromby amongst the jury is " Patrick Byset de Lessendrum." He married Catharine Gordon, daughter of William Gordon of Tillytarmont. This is evidenced by an MS. on the Gordons, in the possession of the representatives of the late Charles Dalrymple, of not later date, from internal evidence, than 1580. They had issue :-

I. Patrick, his successor.

II. William, who married the daughter of Mr. Patrick Leslie of Craigtoun, and had issue by her, John.

1. Bessie, married Robert Forbes of Balinghame, and had by her, Patrick, John, Alexander, Margaret, and Isobel.

2. Elizabeth married Alexander Thomson of Disblair, and had issue by her, Alexander, burgess of Aberdeen.

Patrick Byset was succeeded by his son.


IX. Patrick Byset of Lessendrum.


He is found mentioned as a witness to a service of Archibald Campbell to the barony of Stratherne of date 1546. According to the MS. of 1580, above quoted, he married -------------- Murray, daughter of -------------- Murray of Cowbairdie, and had issue :-


I. Patrick, his successor, who was slain at Corrichie, of whom afterwards.

1. Janet, married to John Byset, burgess of Aberdeen, and had issue - James, George, and Patrick. The latter married the daughter of Gilbert Byset of Pitmuxton, Mair of Fee of Aberdeen.

2. Margaret, who married Thomas Baird, the son of a brother of Walter Baird in Banff.


Patrick Byset fell at Pinkie in 1547, as is evidenced by the following retour made May 5, 1607 (sixty years after date of battle) - " Johannes Bissait hæres masculus Patricii Bissait qui obiit in conflictu de Pinkein patrui." He was succeeded by his son,


X. Patrick Byset of Lessendrum.


He took part with the Earl of Huntly in his rebellion against Queen Mary, and fell at Corrichie. He is included " in precepto remissionis," which the Earl of Huntly obtained for his friends, and in it is styled, " Patrick Bisset quondam de Lessendrum." His sword (bearing the date October 22, 1562) is still to be seen at Lessendrum.

Patrick Byset married -------------- , and had issue a son, George, who was but of tender years when his father died.


XI. George Byset of Lessendrum.


He was born in 1551 ; was called in family tradition the restorer - as the estate of Lessendrum was forfeited for the part his father took at Corrichie. The charter of restoration is dated 16 March, 1611, and is to George Bisset and his son, Robert.


Upon his tombstone, within what was the aisle of the old kirk of Drumblade, to which he gave a bell in 1604, is the following inscription :- " Hic jacet honorabilis vir Georgius Bisset de Lessendrum, qui obiit 25 January, 1623, ætatis suæ anno 73. Ætatem ornavit primam mihi vivida virtvs, sors rediviva domvs famam terra sol. . . . perennem indigetum requiem posthuma vita dedit." [Here lies an honourable man, George Bisset of Lessendrum who died 25 January, 1623, aged 73. Active virtue adorned his early youth, and the restitution of the honours of the decayed fortunes of his ancient house won for him an enduring reputation among his countrymen on earth. In the life beyond the grave he enjoys the eternal repose of the blessed.]

George Bisset was succeeded by his son,


XII. Robert Bisset of Lessendrum.


He was a staunch adherent of the Church of Rome, and suffered great persecution at the hands of the Covenanting Presbytery of Turriff. In the books of the Presbytery of Turriff it is recorded that he was excommunicated for refusing to attend the kirk and to sign the Solemn League and Covenant. "On 18 June, 1629, the Privy Council issued a charge against Robert Bisset of Lessendrum, and others representing, that notwithstanding all that had been recently done, they continue obstinate against the kirk and the law, going about as if nothing were amiss, and enjoying possession of their goods and gear, which properly belongs to His Majesty in escheat ; seeing by the latter circumstance that they are strengthened and fostered in their Popish courses, the council ordained that officers at arms pass and pursue the rebels, enter their houses, and remove them furth thereof."

He married the second daughter of George Gordon of Cocklarachie, by the daughter of James Gordon of Merdrum, and had issue :-

I. Alexander, his successor.

1. Helen, who married Robert Crichton of Bainshole, called sometimes of Drumdollo. Before her marriage she also experienced the tender consideration and mercies of the Presbytery of Turriff, for they declined to allow the banns of marriage between her and the said Robert Crichton to be proclaimed until the said Robert should grant a bond of £500 that they would both attend the kirk. Robert Crichton granted the bond, but did not long survive the marriage. His widow, after his death, married Alexander Gordon of Birkenburn, and had issue three sons.

2. Isobel, excommunicated along with her father for refusing to attend the kirk, and to sign the Solemn League and Covenant.

Robert Bisset died in or before 1646, and was succeeded by his son :-


XIII. Alexander Bisset of Lessendrum.


Regarding him there is the following retour :- " September 20, 1652. Alexander Bisset de Lessendrum, heir of Maister Robert Bisset of Lessendrum, his father, in the lands and davach of Lessendrum, containing the Mains of Lessendrum, Renthie or Cruthie, and Knight's milne, with the milne in the barony of Drumblait, with the privileges of the peat moss within the bounds of the middle third part of the lands of Baigeshill, with the multures, &c. The two pairts of the lands of Stonefield, the third pairt of the lands of Wedderburn, and the third pairt of the lands of Thomastown within the barony of Drumblait."

This retour had evidently been made some years after his father's death, as he is mentioned in the Presbytery records of Turriff as being of Lessendrum in 1646. Probably his father's excommunication, and the fact of his having been denounced a rebel by the Privy Council, may have been the cause of the delay.

Alexander Bisset had also to submit to the tender dealings of the Presbytery of Turriff. " October 20, 1647. Compeired Alexander Bisset of Lessendrum, and being accused of going on in rebellion with the rebels, he confessed that being threatened with fire and sword, he had given them men and keepit some rendevouses with them ; but refused that he had ever been at feights. He is ordained to sign the Solemn League and Covenant, and to sware to adhere to the samen in all time coming, with certification, if he shall contravene the same, he shall be censured as an apostate." He is soon censured as an apostate, and in 1650, he is again dealt with for asking the parishioners of Drumblade to sign the Duke of Hamilton's bond in defence of King Charles I. He was enjoined to confess his guilt on his knees, to crave God and the congregation forgiveness, especially those whom he had asked to subscribe the bond. After this he was for some time in peace, till it was discovered that certain Papists living on his land were not to be brought into the kirk. He was ordered to remove them, and among them his own sister, Isobel Bisset, who, all honour to her, remained firm in the faith of her fathers. She did not, like her sister, Helen, sell her religion for the sake of a husband, but she died excommunicated by the Covenanting Presbytery of Turriff.

Mr. Alexander Bisset married, in 1650, Ann, daughter of Robert Gordon of Straloch. She died in 1714. They had the following issue :-


I. Robert, his successor.

II. William, a Major in the army, who had a son, Dr. Alexander, from whom the present family inherit, of whom afterwards.

III. George. He was served heir to his brother, Charles, August 19, 1742.

IV. Charles, died 1742.

V. Lewis.

VI. Alexander, and others.

Mr. Alexander Bisset died in 1693, and was succeeded by his son,


XIV. Robert Bisset of Lessendrum.


Regarding him there is the following retour :- " April 16, 1693. Robert Bisset of Lessendrum to his father, Alexander Bisset of Lessendrum, in the lands and davach of Lessendrum, comprehending the town and dominical lands of Lessendrum, &c.," much in the same terms as in the former one quoted.

He was born in 1651 ; married, 1681, Agnes Abercromby, daughter of--------------Abercromby of Birkenbog, and had issue:-

I. James, his successor.

II. Alexander, accidentally drowned.

1 Jane, married in 1730, to James Gordon of Cocklarachie.

2. Margaret.

3. Ann, married, 1706, Peter Gordon of Ardmeallie, from whom the Hay Gordons, late of Mayen, are descended.

He died 17----, and was succeeded by his son,


XV. James Bisset of Lessendrum.


He married Anne, daughter of Dun of Tarty, commonly called " Bonnie Annie of Tarty." Her portrait may be seen at Lessendrum. She died, in 1782. They had the following issue :-

I. Robert, baptised October 14, 1723. Witnesses, James Gordon of Cocklarachie, and Alexander Dun of Tarty. Robert died young.

II. Alexander, his successor, baptised January 27, 1734. Witnesses, Mr. David Maitland and Alexander Forsooth.

1. Anne.

2. Agnes, baptised November 22, 1726. Witnesses, Patrick Dun of Tarty and James Gordon of Cocklarachie.

3. Mary, married Rev. Mr. Abel, minister of Drumblade.

4. Jean, baptised April, 1728. Witnesses, Alexander Dun of Tarty and James Gordon of Cocklarachie.

5. Margaret, baptised December 24, 1730. Witnesses, ---------------- Dun of Tarty and James Gordon of Cocklarachie.

6. Elizabeth, baptised June 20, 1732. Witnesses, James Gordon of Cocklarachie and William Gordon of Lesmoir.

7. Catharine, and others.

James Bisset died in 1748, and was succeeded by his son,


XVI. Alexander Bisset of Lessendrum.


Regarding, him there is the following retour :- " 1748, March 31. Alexander Bisset of Lessendrum to his father, James Bisset of Lessendrum, heir male of line and provision, &c."

He was unmarried, and entailed the estate of Lessendrum, after the death of his sisters, on Maurice George Bisset, the son of Dr. Alexander Bisset, and grandson of Major William Bisset, as above mentioned.

He died in 1795, and was succeeded by his sister,


XVII. Anne Bisset of Lessendrum.


Regarding, her there is the following retour :- " Ann Bisset of Lessendrum to her brother, Alexander Bisset of Lessendrum, heir of tailzie and provision general. Dated 17 October, 1795." Her name may be seen on a chalice bequeathed by her to the Episcopal Church of Parkdargue, Forgue, 1802, and remodelled in 1866 by the Venerable Maurice George Fenwick Bisset, Lessendrum. Anne Bisset, Agnes Bisset, Margaret Bisset, and the last surviving sister, Mary Bisset or Abel, were succeeded by their kinsman,


XVIII. Maurice George Bisset of Lessendrum.


Regarding him there is the following retour :- " Maurice Bisset or Morris George in Bath, to his cousin, Anne Bisset of Lessendrum, heir of tailzie and provision general. Dated 16 March, 1816."

Dr. Alexander Bisset, above mentioned, the son of Major William Bisset, the second son of Alexander Bisset (XIII.) of Lessendrum, married Jane, daughter of General Bockland of Knighton, Isle of Wight, and had issue:-

I. Maurice George, who succeeded to Lessendrum.

II. William, D.D., Lord Bishop of Raphoe, who succeeded to Lessendrum and to Knighton, Isle of Wight.

III. Alexander, married to Catharine Bagenal, and had issue, William, who also succeeded to Lessendrum.

IV. George, D.D., who married the Lady Catharine Howard, daughter of the Earl of Suffolk.

V. Henry, killed at sea.

1. Elizabeth, married to William Fenwick of Lemmington, and had issue -I. William. II. Robert. III. The Venerable Maurice George, who married his cousin, the heiress of Lessendrum ; and others, who died in infancy.

2. Sophia, married to Sir Robert Brownrigg, Bart., d. s. p.

Maurice George Bisset of Lessendrum married Harriot, eldest daughter of John Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough, and had issue :-

1. Jane Harriot, of whom afterwards.

2. Anne, who died in 1879.

A monument to the memory of Mr. Bisset has been placed in the church of Drumblade bearing the following inscription :- " Sacred to the memory of Maurice George Bisset, Esq. of Lessendrum, who died at Lessendrum, on the 16th December, 1821, in the 64th year of his age. This tablet is jointly inscribed by Harriot, his affectionate and mournful widow, and his brother and immediate successor, William, Lord Bishop of Raphoe, in honour of his name, and in grateful recollection of his many virtues that adorned his sacred character."

He was succeeded by his brother,


XIX. Right Rev. William Bisset, D. D., of Lessendrum,

Lord Bishop of Raphoe.


He married Jane, daughter of the Rev. Christopher Erle, but had no issue. The Bishop is buried at Drumblade, and the following inscription may be read on a marble tablet, with figures of mitre and crosier, the insignia of the Episcopal office, in the church of Drumblade :- " Sacred to the memory of William Bisset, D.D., Lord Bishop of Raphoe, and proprietor of Lessendrum, who died on the 4th of September, 1834, aged 75 years." He was succeeded by his nephew ,


XX. William Bisset of Lessendrum.


He was the son of Alexander Bisset by Catherine Bagenal above mentioned. He married the Lady Alicia Howard, daughter of the Earl of Wicklow, and had issue, a daughter, Jane Frances. The following is a certificate of her baptism :- " I certify that I have baptised Jane Frances, daughter of William Bisset, Esq., and the Lady Alicia, his wife, at Lessendrum, according to the forms of the Church of England, this fifth day of February, 1833. Signed, F. Howard, vicar of Swords, Co. Dublin."

Miss Bisset was married first to William Gilland; secondly, in 1881 to Rev. Robert Bisset Elrington, vicar of Lower Brixton, Devon.

Mr. William Bisset of Lessendrum died in 1858, and in virtue of Alexander Bisset's entail, the succession, instead of going to his daughter, reverted to Jane Harriot, eldest daughter of Maurice George Bisset of Lessendrum, who, on her father's death in 1821, had been left out in the cold, the males in the entail not being then exhausted.


XXI. Jane Harriot Bisset of Lessendrum.


She married her cousin, the Venerable Maurice George Fenwick, son of William Fenwick of Lemmington, by Elizabeth Bisset, his spouse. He was for some time Rector of Drumholm and Archdeacon of Raphoe. Archdeacon Fenwick, on his wife succeeding to the property of Lessendrum, assumed the name of Bisset. They had the following issue

I. Mordaunt, born 1826.

1. Janet, who succeeded her brother.

2. Harriet.

Mrs. Fenwick Bisset died in 1866, and was succeeded by her son. (The Venerable Maurice George Fenwick Bisset, her husband, died August 6, 1879, aged 82.)


XXII. Mordaunt Fenwick Bisset of Lessendrum.


He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and on leaving it he joined the 1st Dragoon Guards, but left on inheriting the fine property of Daunsey, in Wiltshire, left him by his grand-uncle, the Earl of Peterborough. He married, in 1851, Susan, daughter and heiress of Francis Popham of Bagborough. He was M.P. for West Somersetshire. Mr. Bisset was a highly esteemed gentleman, beloved by his tenantry, to whom he was a just and considerate landlord. He died in 1884, and was buried in the churchyard of Bagborough. He was succeeded by his sister,


XXIII. Mrs. Janet Elrington Bisset of Lessendrum.


She was married to J. Favière Elrington, LL.D., Q.C., who died in 1883. Mrs.

Elrington, on succeeding her brother, assumed the name of Bisset. They had issue :-

I. Rev. Charles Elrington, some time vicar of Newbarnes, in Lancashire ; married, 1880, Edith E. H., eldest daughter of Rev. J. S. Moore, Rector of Crofton, in Yorkshire. This excellent young man, beloved by all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance, died s. p., December 12, 1888, aged 39 years.

II. Maurice, Captain in the Royal Engineers, married, 1884, Ann Isabella Brinkley, second daughter of the late W. S. Brinkley, and has issue :- I. Walter Favière, born Feb. 21, 1889. 1. Janet Kathleen, born June 14, 1886.

III. Rev. Mordaunt Elrington.

1. Isabella, married Robert W. A. Holmes, C.B., Treasury Remembrancer, Ireland, and has issue - 1. Edith J. II. Arthur N. 3. Norah K. 4. Evelyn M. 5. Isabella R. 6. Evelyn Iris. VII. Robert C. E.


The Mansion House of Lessendrum is finely situated. Considerable alterations and improvements were made by William Bisset soon after his accession to the property. The entry door is a Norman arch, and the staircase leading to the apartments is very fine, while the ceiling of the dining room is enriched with the arms and quarterings of various members and connections of the family.

There is a fine collection of paintings, many, of them representations of the great English family of Mordaunt. The Admiral Lord Howard of Effingham, who commanded Queen Elizabeth's fleet against the Armada, may be seen, and many other historical characters inherited by the Bisset family through their descent from the Mordaunts, Earls of Peterborough.




According to Nisbet's " Heraldry," the Bissets of Lessendrum are now chief of the name, and bear the ancient arms of the family - the plain coat azure, and the bend argent. Neither motto nor crest is given, but the crest assumed by the family is a gnarled oak sprouting, with the motto, "Abscissa viresco." These indicate pretty correctly the history of the family. The oak has often been cut down, but in summer times it has grown green again.


Please send comments or corrections to : Jim Rowe ( contact me )

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