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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

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
A Bisson family outing in 1926 - Helier, Marjorie, Lily, Roy and Basil. Roy Bisson was the father of Jerripedia editor Mike Bisson
Capt Bisson and family at St John in 1908

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. 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.

Early references

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 reference to the surname Bisson / Buisson in Guernsey is in the Vale Parish registers around 1540.

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, also born about 1450.

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.

Le Gros Bisson

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.

However, Guy Dixon has unearthed Royal Court records from the early 16th century which refer to Le Gros dit Bisson, a form of surname found frequently in Jersey, and indicating that the family was originally Le Gros, and became Le Gros dit Bisson (Le Gros, called Bisson).

Arms of Edward Leonard Bisson


  • 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 are 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


Bisson baptisms and marriages in Jersey

Note: We are now aware that some Bisson records are missing from these lists, yet can be found in our searchable database. Conversely, there are records missing from that database which appear in the lists above. We are working to correct these anomalies, some of which are caused by confusion between Bisson and Le Gros Bisson records. However, we have now isolated Le Gros Bisson entries from Le Gros and plain Bisson in our database, so the database should now correspond with the Le Gros Bisson baptisms list above.


Bisson family histories


Bisson lineages in Guernsey


Great War service


Occupation records


Family wills


Burial records

Family properties

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.

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

Bisson businesses

Family album

Ministers and lay preachers of the Methodist French Circuit in 1867, including D Bisson. The picture was taken by Asplet and Green a year after they set up in business at 18½ Beresford Street and also includes P Tourgis, Philippe Amy, P Le Gresley, Thomas J Desprès, Mr Ahier, Mr Benest, P Garnier, Mr Hamon, P Norman, G Le Masurier, Abraham Pallot, J Syvret, P G Adair, G Skelton, T Binet, T Billot, Mr Vautier, E de Carteret, W Le Duc, T Lucas, H Collas and J Le Cornu

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
A Bisson family in 1925 - Daniel, Georgina May Agnew, Amelie Dorothy, Phoebe Eleanor, Eunice Sophie, Lucy Amelie, Amelie Baudains, Raoul Daniel, Russell Daniel Agnew, Marion Marguerite, Rosa Margaret and Oswald
Bisson family in 1920 - Lucy, Raoul, Eunice, Daniel, Rosa, Phoebe and Amelie
Walter John Bisson was born in Guernsey in 1868 and was taken by his parents, Peter and Charlotte, nee Le Tissier, together with his five older siblings, to the United States three years later. He eventually settled in California, where he married Ann Stewart in 1889. They are pictured here early in the 20th century with their sons Norman, Walter and Raymond

Family gravestones

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


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