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Bisson family page


Church records suggest that this has been the commonest
family name in Jersey over the past 500 or more years


John Chevalier Bisson, a tailor, great-grandfather
of Jerripedia founder and editor Mike Bisson

Record Search

Direct links to lists of baptisms, marriages and burials for the Bisson family can be found under Family Records opposite. If you want to search for records for a spelling variant of Bisson, or for any other family name, just click below on the first letter of the
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for which there are baptism records in our database of half a million church and public registry records.

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The records are displayed 30 to a page, but by selecting the yellow Wiki Table option at the top left of the page you can open a full, scrollable list. This list will either be displayed in a new tab or a pop-up window. You may have to edit the settings of your browser to allow pop-up windows for For the small number of family names for which a search generates more than 1,500 records you will have to refine your search (perhaps using start or end dates) to reduce the number of records found.

New records

From August 2020 we have started adding records from non-Anglican churches, and this process will continue as more records, held by Jersey Archive, are digitised and indexed. Our database now includes buttons enabling a search within registers of Roman Catholic, Methodist and other non-conformist churches. These records will automatically appear within the results of any search made from this page.


If you can help with information about the Bisson family, please contact, using Jerripedia as the subject of your email. We are particularly interested in information which will help create further family trees, family histories and photographs

A blue link anywhere in the text will lead you to another page with more information on this family
1981 stamp

Origin of Surname

The surname Bisson is one of the oldest names in the Channel Islands. It was 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 near a bushy area of non-agricultural land, which no doubt adjoined a village or settlement, to which it had given its name. There are alternative suggestions that it meant a fiefless man, or even that it was derived from besson old French for 'twin', but neither of these is supported by evidence in Normandy, where the name originates.

The loss of the 'u' from the surname came about because the pronunciation, in the Norman-French language, was identical whichever way the name was spelt.

Early references

The Rev J A Messervy wrote that "the Bissons of Jersey are descended from a good French source, which, from the 12th century had ties with Jersey". An early member of the family derived from this source was Richard du Buisson, Esquire Banneret, [1] who took part in the third crusade, and witnessed in 1191 a deed in the camp of King Richard 1, before Acre. [2] It is apparent that prior to the mid-12th century, the Norman du Buissons, a knightly family, were already represented in two different parts of the Island, doubtless in two branches, holding land, one in the east, with ties to Grouville and with a fief, the Fief du Buisson, in St Helier, and one in the west, in St Brelade.

This would suggest as early a date of settlement as that of the de Carterets and others, among the Island`s first recorded seigneurial families. Although the names of the early holders of the Fief du Buisson have not survived, the Grouville du Buisson link is well-attested, as also is that of St Brelade. The earliest mention of the surname, in relation to the Channel Islands, is from the archives of St Lô in Normandy: [3] In 1149 Sir Geoffrey du Buisson with Roger du Buisson, his son, made a gift to the Abbey of Lessay of the Church of St Martin de Grouville (Grouville Church) in Jersey [4].

There is a mention in August a year earlier of the same Sir Geoffrey giving land to the Abbey of Lessay. The Norman du Buissons, judging by this, their connection with Lessay, will have come from either Le Buisson, three kilometres to the south-east of Lessay, or the village and former fief of this name, which is now a part of the Commune of Saint-Germain-sur-Sèves, seven kilometres east of Lessay, in the Cotentin. Messervy records [5] that the Norman du Buissons "during several generations, remained.... the patrons of Grouville". As late as 1315, one of their descendants, Sir Yon du Buisson, renounced the patronage, with the consent of his son, Jehan du Buisson Ecr [6].

Sir Yon du Buisson is mentioned elsewhere in the 1315-1339 records of the same abbey, as is Colin du Buisson. It is evident that the du Buissons with interests in the east of the Island favoured after 1204 their Norman lands and the 'new order' there, which resulted from Normandy`s seizure by the French king, Philippe Augustus.

A Bisson family outing at Rozel in 1926 - Helier, Marjorie, Lily and Basil, with 12-year-old Roy, the father of Jerripedia editor Mike Bisson, at the front
Capt Bisson and family at St John in 1908

Western branch

Members of the branch of the du Buissons holding their land in the west of the Island, in St Brelade, are first mentioned by name at a similar date, circa 1150, when E de Magneville and his sons gave to the Abbey of St Sauveur le Vicomte, the Church of St Brelade, in Jersey. It was the custom, if not necessity, that the witnesses should be local landowners. De Magneville`s gift of St Brelade's Church was witnessed by Richard and Anquetil Buisson.

In 1324, Richard du Buisson was one of the electores of St Brelade [7] and in 1331, Colin du Buisson held a bouvée of land in St Brelade [8]. It is from this St Brelade branch of the early du Buissons, who remained in 1204 in the Island, that most, if not all, of the modern Jersey Bissons are descended.

The early genealogy of the St Brelade branch has been extracted by Messervy, and starts with Nicolas Bisson of La Moye, who would have been born about 1440. His younger son was Germain Bisson (1475- ), whose wife, Girette, was living in 1539, as a widow. Germain is now thought to be the man of this name, who lived in St John, from whom most of the Bissons of that parish are descended. Thomas Bisson of St John was described in 1555 as fils ainé of Germain [9]. He married a wife named Marie, who was, herself, a widow, in 1560. They had sons Collas and François, among others, both of whom left descendants in St John.

From St Brelade, two further younger sons in the mid-16th century, Pierre Bisson and Léonard Bisson, founded branches elsewhere. Pierre settled in St Peter in about 1556, following his marriage with Catherine Dumaresq, and left there descendants over the course of many generations. Léonard founded in St Lawrence what fast became the Island`s leading Bisson family, Seigneurs of the Fief Luce de Carteret. This family gave to the Island seven Constables, three Jurats, two Rectors and a Lieut-Bailiff.

When, in the latter part of the 16th century, the senior St Brelade line finally had no available male heir, recourse was had to the well-tried Jersey custom of marrying the principal heiress to a kinsman of the same name, in order to continue both the line and the surname. Nicolas Bisson, grandson of Perrin Bisson (1450-1525), of Trinity, was the chosen bridegroom. Thus the Bissons of Trinity were also, it seems, descended from the St Brelade parent stock, most likely in the mid-15th century. The Bissons of Trinity, like those of St Lawrence, produced some men of note in the form of two, possibly three, clergymen, three advocates, one of whom was Receiver-General and another who was, over several years, acting Greffier, and two Constables.

From St Peter, if not directly from one of the two junior branches in St Brelade, will have come in the early 16th century, the Bissons or Le Gros dit Bissons of St Ouen and St Mary, which have long been called merely 'Le Gros Bisson'. Most of these families had their own junior branches in St Helier.

In St Martin there is a Bisson family, dating from the late 16th century, which has yet to be connected with any of the above branches. There is, however, no reason to doubt the affiliation.


The earliest reference to the surname Bisson/Buisson in Guernsey is in the Vale parish registers around 1540. It is not known whether the earliest Guernsey Bissons arrived in that island directly from Normandy or were from Jersey families.

Jersey branches

The earliest proven ancestors of present-day Bissons in Jersey are Nicolas Bisson of St Brelade, ancestor of the St Brelade, St John, St Peter and St Lawrence branches 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, also born about 1450.

Although the name du Buisson, as featured in the Assize Roll of 1309, has been taken by some as the earliest reference to the family being resident - as opposed to merely landowning - in the Island, this reference is simply a confirmation by King Edward II of the donation of Grouville Church mentioned above. 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, the '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 permanently in the island before the early 14th century. A settlement at that time, however, could itself 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 then from the mainland to the island. The actual date of settlement is therefore likely to have been much earlier, as shown above, in the late 12th or early 13th centuries.

Eight Bissons are listed in the Jersey Chantry Certificate of 1550.

The contract for a Bisson family property transaction passed before Bailiff William Venables Vernon in the 1920s

Le Gros Bisson

The Le Gros Bissons, farming people of Saint 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 was thought to have been used to distinguish between two Bissons living in the same area, one larger (or fatter) than the other.

However, Guy Dixon has unearthed Royal Court records from the 16th century and mentions of this branch in the Extentes, which refer to its members as Le Gros dit Bisson, a form of surname found frequently in Jersey, and indicating that the family was originally either Le Gros, and became Le Gros dit Bisson (Le Gros, called Bisson) or Bisson, called Le Gros. These 'alias' or 'dit' surnames, so frequently found in early times, are accepted as having three quite distinct reasons for existing. Often marriage to an heiress and settlement on her land will result in such a name, as with many modern double-barrelled surnames. Illegitimacy also gave rise to these dual-identity names, as did the need to distinguish between different branches of a family, often using a favourite Christian name within each branch, such as 'Le Geyt dit Rauvet' (the Ralph Le Geyts, Rauvet being the diminutive of Rauf).


  • Buisson
  • Le Gros Bisson
  • Bisson, 1528
  • du Buisson, 1315
  • du Bisson 1315
  • de Bussone, 1188
  • de Buisson 1053
  • de Buissun 1140
  • Bissonet
  • Bissonnet
  • Bison, is found in the Savoie region of France, but is not thought to be a variant of Bisson, but to come from Italy, and to derive from the local dialect word for grey.
  • Bissot is found in France and may be a diminuitive of Bisson

Family records


Family trees

Bisson is by far the most numerous name in Jersey church records, and unlike many long-established families, the Bissons migrated from one parish to another. The Le Gros Bissons, sometimes shown as such in registers, sometimes just listed under Bisson, are largely to be found either side of the St Ouen-St Mary border until they began to move in the early 19th century.

Other branches moved from St Brelade to Trinity and then St John. All this can make the branches very difficult to track and not nearly as many trees have been assembled as should be for this substantial family name. Many of those trees which do exist online are full of errors.

We are working all the time to add trees wherever possible, and would welcome contributions from Bisson researchers.


Benjamin Bissons

"What is it about the Bisson family lineages which make them so difficult to research?" asks Jerripedia editor Mike Bisson.

"Perhaps it is that there are, and have been, so many Bissons in Jersey. One name which has caused me heartache is Benjamin Bisson, and there have been many of them. There seems to be much conflict in online trees and descents from various Benjamins linked to Trinity and St John families.

The arrival in May 2018 of a further tree, now renamed Descendants of Benjamin Bisson - 4, appeared to confirm some of the details in some earlier trees, but introduced further conflicts. That tree, and other Bisson trees, have now been reviewed by Guy Dixon, who undertook much research into the families some three decades ago, and many of the conflicts have now been removed

The two trees below link, with the second taking the first further down

St Martin trees

Benjamin Bisson descendancies - see box on right

St John and Trinity trees involving Benjamins


Clement Bissons

Given that the set of Clement Bisson trees on the left all appear to relate to the descendancy of the same person, the differences are remarkable. We have yet to unravel the inconsistencies and are featuring all the trees until we are confident in the right relationships.

These trees suggest that a Clement Bisson moved to Jersey from Canada, had a son, Clement, left him in Jersey, and returned with his wife to Canada, dying there soon after. We have been unable to find any records which support this view.

Jerripedia's editor Mike Bisson is a descendant of the Le Gros Bisson line (quite distinct in Jersey from Bisson), neither of which can be traced back far enough in Jersey records to say when early generations may have moved to the island from France. Le Gros Bisson is not known in France, and the likelihood is that the two branches separated in Jersey some time in the 14th century, or earlier.

Mike says: From the earliest Le Gros Bissons to the many descendants still living in Jersey, there is no known further connection with France and none at all with Canada, other perhaps from Jersey Bissons going to work in the eastern seaboard fishing industry, having children there and returning to Jersey, as did many families. Looking at other Bisson lines, which I have been studying for many, many years, because they are also present in my tree many generations back, I can find nothing to support a link with French Bissons after the 15th century, and probably much earlier. I find it very hard to believe the suggestions that Bissons with no previous connection with Jersey, having arrived in Canada direct from France, then emigrated to Jersey, left children there, and returned to Canada. There are undoubtedly some Bisson records missing from Jersey parish registers, and it seems to me that researchers have plucked at records for Bissons with the same name and within the same timeframe to fill those gaps, rather than accepting that there are simply records missing from Jersey records.'

Clement Bisson descendancies - see box on right


Church records

Tips for using these links

  • Bisson baptisms to 1842, This is our original 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 family histories


Bisson lineages in Guernsey


Newspaper records


Great War service


Occupation records


World War 2 casualties


Family wills


Burial records

An 1820 George III silver plate wine cooler with the Bisson coat of arms.

Family properties

Le Fief du Buisson can be traced back to the 14th Century, although in these early records it had already passed out of family possession.

In 1803 Capt Philippe Bisson announced in the Gazette de l'Ile de Jersey that he had two houses for sale or to rent

Roy Bisson, father of Jerripedia editor Mike Bisson

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.

The Besoms of Marblehead

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


Family businesses

Photographs of St Brelade's Church by a so-far unidentified family member who was a commercial photographer
Walter Bisson owned a drapery business at 6 King Street and 11 Halkett Place from 1885 to 1903, initially in partnership with his brother Charles. This is the property which eventually became Woolworth in 1921. The brothers were earlier in business at 14 King Street, which eventually became part of their chief rivals, Noel and Porter
New Leader, a 58-ton schooner built in the Bisson yard at Havre des Pas in 1873 for Thomas Jenne. The vessel was in use for 26 years after she was launched. She was one of only three vessels built by Thomas Bisson between 1856 and 1878. Thomas Bisson had a shipyard at Beaumont before this, building four vessels there in 1856.


The arms used by Edward Leonard Bisson in the 19th century

There are various Bisson coats of arms to be found online and in books, most of dubious authenticity. The majority feature a tree or bush as the main subject, which are the correct bearings. The coat of arms of Lieut-Bailiff Edward Leonard Bisson (see below), shows two quarterings (additional arms, in this case, in the second and third quarters of the shield). These represented, respectively, the families of Lempriere and de Beaudenis, and are acquired only by an ancestor in the bearer's direct line, marrying an heiress who was entitled to the arms. These two quarterings were therefore only used by Edward Leonard Bisson's immediate family.

The arms of du Buisson or Bisson, of Jersey and Normandy, to which the Island`s Bissons are fully entitled, are: "Or, on a mount vert, a holly-bush proper; a bordure sable, entoyre of eight mullets of six points, pierced, of the first (the mullets are "of or" - gold).

Two coats of arms previously featured here from research by Julian Wilson have been found to be almost certainly of no relevance either to Jersey or Normandy, from where the island family originated, and have been removed

Edouard Leonard Bisson

Arguably the most distinguished member of the family over the centuries, Edouard Leonard Bisson served as a Jurat for over 50 years and acting-Bailiff on two occasions. He was chosen by three successive Bailiffs as their Lieut-Bailiff, a position he held for 45 years


Family album

Typical Jersey Occupation documents: The 'blue form' filled in with his personal details by Jerripedia editor Mike Bisson's grandfather, and the card, containing the details on the identity card issued to him, together with a copy of his photograph, which was provided to the German authorities. This was not a typical ID card portrait. Most were head-on, full-face shots taken specially for a card, whereas this was clearly a professionally taken portrait

Click on any image to see the full-size version

C S Bisson and his wife at La Moye where they had a weekend bungalow
Trinity wedding of solicitor Josue Renouf Bisson to Elize Mary Pallot, daughter of Mr P Pallot of Aurora Cottage, Trinity. Photograph taken by Percival Dunham and published in the Morning News on 5 June 1914

Rogues' Gallery

This cutting from the 4 November 1797 edition of the Gazette de l'Ile de Jersey records the public execution of three men, known only by their surnames, Collins, Bisson and Deschamps, on Mont Patibulaire - Gallows Hill, now known as Westmount.

There is no indication of the nature of their crime or crimes, nor whether they had been sentenced for the same or separate offences. Although it may be assumed that they had been convicted of murder, the death penalty was still imposed for lesser offences in the 18th century.

This version of the Gazette was first published by John Stead in September 1797, taking over from Mathieu Alexandre's Gazette which ceased publication at the end of the previous year. It seemed likely that the death sentence was passed on the three men in the nine-month gap between the appearance of the two newspapers.

However, a search in the Pursuites Criminelles, a record of Royal Court criminal cases from 19 September 1797, revealed details of the cases against Thomas Bisson and Jean Deschamps, and separately James Collings and Thomas Parbut.

Bisson and Deschamps made several appearances before the Royal Court before they were sentenced to death on 24 October 1797 for breaking into the office of Mr Budd on the night of 25-26 June, using a skeleton key, and stealing a large amount of gold and coins.

Collings, believed to be the Collins referred to in this newspaper account, and Parbut were soldiers in the Regiment of Cheshire Fencibles. They were found guilty of breaking into the house of Charles Gruchy on 30 September 1797 and stealing various items, and were sentenced to death, also on 24 October. We have not been able to find any explanation for Parbut not being hanged along with the three other criminals.

The newspaper report indicates that a large crowd surrounded the gallows during the hanging. It concludes with a 'sermon' encouraging parents to assume responsibility for the conduct of their children.

New Zealand newspaper clippings

These clippings from New Zealand newspapers in the 19th century relate to the lives of William and Philip Bisson.


Family gravestones

Memorials in St Lawrence Parish Church to (left) the Rev Amice Bisson and (right) his wife, Jeanne, nee Le Maistre, and their son Edouard Leonard Bisson, Jurat from 1832 to 1884, and long time Lieut-Bailiff. Baptised in St Lawrence on 6 January 1797, he died without heirs on 1 April 1884.

Click on any image to see a larger version. See the Jerripedia gravestone image collection page for more information about our gravestone photographs. Images of gravestones in other cemeteries will be added progressively.

  • Bisson family gravestones in Gaspe: A selection of images of Bisson gravestones in cemeteries in Gaspe, Canada. Some of these will be first-generation immigrants from Jersey, some their children and descendants. Others may have no connection with the island, but that can only be determined by further research


The church record links above will open in a new tab in your browser and generate the most up-to-date list of each set of records from our database. These lists replace earlier Family page baptism lists, which were not regularly updated. They have the added advantage that they produce a chronological listing for the family name in all parishes, so you do not have to search through A-Z indexes, parish by parish.

We have included some important spelling variants on some family pages, but it may be worth searching for records for a different spelling variant. Think of searching for variants with or without a prefix, such as Le or De. To search for further variants, or for any other family name, just click on the appropriate link below for the first letter of the family name, and a new tab will open, giving you the option to choose baptism, marriage or burial records. You will then see a list of available names for that type of record and you can select any name from that list. That will display all records of the chosen type for that family name, and you can narrow the search by adding a given name, selecting a parish or setting start and end dates in the form you will see above. You can also change the family name, or search for a partial name if you are not certain of the spelling

The records are displayed 30 to a page, but by selecting the yellow Wiki Table option at the top left of the page you can open a full, scrollable list. This list will either be displayed in a new tab or a pop-up window. You may have to edit the settings of your browser to allow pop-up windows for For the small number of family names for which a search generates more than 1,500 records you will have to refine your search (perhaps using start or end dates) to reduce the number of records found.

New records

Since August 2020 we have added several thousand new records from the registers of Roman Catholic, Methodist and other non-conformist churches. These will appear in date order within a general search of the records and are also individually searchable within the database search form


Notes and references

  1. An Esquire Banneret was not a knight, but one who brought to the field of combat his own company of vassals, which he commanded. His banner was square
  2. Amédée du Buisson de Courson, Maison du Buisson, (Tarbes, 1868), 23
  3. In a document destroyed during WW2 but copied earlier
  4. Le Cartulaire des Iles de la Manche, No. 255
  5. ABSJ X1, 95
  6. Cartulaire, Nos. 268-273
  7. Fragment 1 Jersey Rolls, 17 Edw. 2
  8. Extente
  9. Cour de Samedi
  10. This card is held by Jersey Archive. Visit The Archive online catalogue for more information. A subscription may be needed to view some of the site's content
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