from Wayne Olsen:
Listed in LDS Ancestral File, AFN: 8VGZ-KF
From "Gustin and Carlisle Genealogy", by L.C. Gustin 1954:
The Bissell or Byssell family is probably of French Huguenot origin. Many French Huguenots fled to England to escape the persecutions following the massacre of St. Bartholomew's in 1572. Little is known of the history of the Bissells in England.
John Bissell was born in England about 1592. It is said that he and his brother Thomas came from Somersetshire, England to Plymouth in 1628 and that Thomas died in Plymouth or returned to England. John Bissell settled in Windsor, CT before 1640. He received a grant from the colonial court of a monopoly of a ferry across the CT River. He built a house on the east side of the river as early as 1659-60. In 1662 he gave the homestead with the ferry in Old Windsor to his son John and removed with his son Nathaniel to the east side of the river below the mouth of the Scantic. At the time of King Phillip's war, his house was fortified and held as a garrison house for the neighborhood.
He married twice, but the names of both his wives are unknown. His first wife died at Windsor May 21, 1641 and his second wife died there Mar. 29, 1665.
John Bissell was representative from 1648 to 1657.
From: "General Daniel Bissell: His Ancestors and Descendants", compiled for French Rayburn Bissell by Edith Newbold Jessop. New York, 1927.
"It is probable that the family of Bissell is of Huguenot origin. Many Huguenots fled to England to escape the persecutions which followed the massacre of St. Bartholomew in 1572. Some of the Bissell descendants do not believe in the traditions of their Huguenot descent, because, they state, "the name is found in the Doomsday Book, and this was started sometime after the landing of William the Conqueror in England; and theBissells were building monasteries in Ireland in 1255. They were members of the Church of England." However, the statement is made in "America Heraldica": "Careful investigation shows that the arms used to the present day by the descendants of John Bissell were brought over by his grandfather from France to England and were registered there at the College of Heralds, London."
"The family of John Bissell, who settled in Windsor, CT, is the only Bissell family definitely known to have come to this country, and all the colonial families are descended there from. Tradition asserts that this John, with a brother Thomas came from Somersetshire in England, to Plymouth, MA in 1628, and that the latter died at Plymouth, or returned to England. This is doubtful, as is also the tradition that Thomas married an Indian girl, daughter of a Poquonnoc sachem, and died without issue. The same tradition has been held concerning Thomas, son of John Holmes. No trace of such a marriage or of the emigrant Thomas Bissell is to be found.
'The Abridged Compendium of American Genealogy" gives the name of his first wife as Mary Drake, but this information may be erroneous, there being the possibility that the name was confused with that of Mary, the eldest daughter of John Bissell, who married Jacob Drake.
"The exact year in which John Bissell settled in Windsor is in dispute, as is also the time of his coming to America from England. Certain records indicate that he came to Plymouth, MA in 1628, and removed to Windsor, CT a few years afterward. Other records give 1635 as the date of his removal to Windsor; while several histories consulted give evidence that 1639 is the correct date of his coming to America and settling in Windsor.
"It is difficult to determine what definite occupation John Bissell Sr. had. The statement is made in various records that he was ferryman in 1640. In the official records we find that the subject of operating a regular ferry across the CT at Windsor was first agitated about 1641, but that no definite action was taken until 1648-1649, when a contract was made with John Bissell for 7 years. It is probable, therefore, that between 1640 and 1648 John Bissell was conducting a ferry on his own behalf, as a private business, and not under contract with the Windsor authorities. The "Abridged Compendium of American Genealogy" makes the statement that he "established Bissell's ferry across the CT River under Charter from King Charles," and this may refer to the period between 1640 and 1648.
"Stiles says; "There is a tradition in the Bissell family that in 1636-1637 this John Bissell was sent by the colony to England to procure a new supply of cattle to replenish the heavy losses which they had suffered from the exceedingly severity of the preceding winter; that he returned with 17 cows and a bull; and as a reward for his services received the monopoly of this ferry from the court.... We are disinclined to believe it: first, because in the official colonial records there is not the slightest allusion to any such circumstance; second, because we have very serious doubts whether John Bissell was in Windsor at so early a date. It is probably that he may have come to Windsor about 1639 or 1640, and may have brought some cattle with him, but we have been as yet unable to connect hem with the ferry.
The ferry contract with the Court in 1648-49 amounted to a monopoly. Contract for 7 years. Contract renewed for one year in 1656, but with additional term that troops shall have free passage. Lease renewed again in 1657; In Mar 1658, lease renewed for 10 years. He asked for release from the contract in 1663-64. Nathaniel Bissell picked up the contract in 1677 for 7 years. During the period 1663-1667, ferry operated in new location at mouth of the Scantic. After close of Nathanial Bissell's contract, the ferry reverted to the town. Bissell's Ferry continued in operation until about 1922.
John Bissell was a juror at Hartford in 1640, 1643, 1645, 1647, and 1648; deputy to the General Court in 1642, and attended 46 sessions ofthe General and Particular Courts before the union of the CT and New Haven colonies, and in all served as Juror 12 sessions of the Court of Hartford. He was frequently appointed upon important committees by theGeneral Court of CT.
"From Stiles, "For 30 years after the original Windsor settlement, there seems to have been no occupation of the lands on the east side except as a pasturage for their cattle and some small mowing. The Bissell family were undoubtedly the pioneers of the East Windsor emigration. It is not probable however, that they had any permanent residence on the east side for many years after that date, as so isolated a position in the then unsettled state of the country would have been full of peril to themselves and the common welfare. John gave to Nathaniel land on the east side in Jan 1662-3, with a house already built... inferred that this house was erected about 1658 or 1659. This was undoubtedly the first and for several years the only dwelling house in East (now South) Windsor."
..it is evident that the Bissells owned a mill on land purchased from the Indians before 1670. Nathaniel and John Bissell Jr purchased the land jointly, bounded easterly on the Scantic Brook.
Cutter says that John Bissell was a soldier in King Philip's War, in1675, and 1677 was Quartermaster of a troop of Horse. (Surprising, since John Bissell, Sr, would have been in his late 80's).
From "The Fulton-Hayden-Warner Ancestry in America", compiled by Clarence Ettienne Leonard. Tobias A. Wright Publ. NY 1923.
John Bissell came first from County Somerset, England, to Plymouth, MA in 1628, and removed to Windsor, CT in 1639. His family was of Huguenot ancestry, who removed from France to England about the time of the St. Bartholomew Day in 1672. He was representative to the General Court from Windsor, from 1648 to 1657. He served under Captain John Mason in 1657-8, and in King Philips War.
From "Ancestors of Ossian Hatch Brainerd and Mary Hulburd Goodrich,"
Born in Somersetshire 1591 of Huguenot ancestry, came from England to Plymouth in 1628 with Rev. Ephraim Hewitt, and was at Windsor in 1640. He married (1) (possibly) Mary Drake (?). 6 children.
John was a Deputy to the General Court in 1642 and 1648, and established a ferry on the CT River. He was in the Windsor Troop of Horse 1657, a captain in King Philip's war 1675 and Quartermaster in 1675.
From "New England Families Genealogical and Memorials," compiled by W.R.Cutter, A.M. Lewis Hist. Publ. Co. New York, 1913:
Revised: November 26, 2016