Clan Bisset is a Scottish family or kin-group which does not have a chief and is therefore considered an armigerous clan
The name Bisset is said to be of Norman origin. <ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 362</ref> The Old French adjective bis meant 'brownish grey' and was applied to the rock-dove, whose colour it rightly describes: bisset was the diminutive form and gives the French surname Bizet. <ref>David Dorward, Dictionary of Scottish Surnames, 20</ref>
The name is thought to have come to Scotland when William the Lion returned from captivity in England in 1174 with attendants who included a family called Bisey. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 362</ref>
They gained land in Morayshire. Their power spread and persons bearing the name were witnesses to several charters in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 362</ref> Thomas de Bissat witnessed a charter of Alexander III to Paisley Abbey. Henricus Byset was witness to a royal charter of the late twelfth century and his son John obtained a crown grant for further lands in the north. <ref>Dorward, Dictionary, 20</ref>
However, the rising fortunes of the family were eclipsed by an act of personal vengeance: in 1242 at a tournament held in Haddington, Walter Byset, Lord of Aboyne, was defeated by the youthful Earl of Atholl.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 362</ref> In revenge Byset is said to have murdered the Earl in his sleep and set fire to his house in an attempt to conceal the crime. .<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 362</ref> Walter Byset and his son fled to Ireland and later England, where the feud followed them.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 362</ref>
A pardon was later granted to the son of the Earl of Atholl for slaying some Bysets in Ireland.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 362</ref>
Bissets of Lessendrum
This family are among the oldest in Aberdeenshire. The name is now associated mainly with Aberdeenshire and Moray.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 362</ref> There have been a number of prominent lawyers called Bisset, including Habakkuk Bisset, writer to the Signet during the reign of James IV.
A modern bearer of this name is the writer Alan Bisset (b.1975).