This interesting name may be an example of those English surnames which originated as nicknames, in this particular case for someone with an unhealthy complexion or one who habitually dressed in particularly dare coloured garment, especially greyish-brown, from the Medieval English and Old French, word "bis", meaning murky, greyish-brown or brownish-grey. The name may also derive from the Medieval English "busch", a bush, thicket, which described "a dweller by a bush or thicket". The name first appears in records in the late 12th Century, (see below). One Stephen Bys was recorded in 1327, in the Subsidy Rolls of Cambridgeshire, while a William Bys was mentioned in the Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk in 1327. Richard Bisse married Elizabeth Ormshawe at St. Mary le Bow, London, on November 28th 1587, and they had a daughter Anne christened at St. Pancras Soper Lane, London on March 22nd 1590. Mary, daughter of Will and Mary Biss was christened at St. Botolph without Aldersgate, London on April 10th 1683. The name is also found as Bysh and Bysshe. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Byset, which was dated circa 1165, an English nobleman who followed William the Lion to Scotland, during the reign of William the Lion, Ruler of Scotland, 1165 - 1214. 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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