This unusual and interesting name has two possible origins, one English and one French. The English source is from a nickname for a short man, one of low stature, from the Middle English and Old French word "bas(se)", low, short, from the Latin "bassus", "thickset", wide, as opposed to tall. "Basset(t)" is the diminutive form of the original surname "Bass". The second, French, source is locational, from a place in Normandy called "Basset". The surname would have been introduced by the Normans after the Conquest of 1086, and early recordings of the name show this derivation in the form "de Basset", as in "Gilbert de Basset", (the Bedfordshire Hundred Rolls, 1275). One William Bassett was an early emigrant to New England, leaving London on the ship "Abigall" bound for New England in 1635. One of the many early Coats of Arms granted to Bassett families depicts a barry wavy of six gold and red. The Crest is a unicorn's head couped, silver, and the Motto, "Pro rege et populo", translates as "For king and people". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Basset. which was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book, Hertfordshire, during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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