Select Bassett Miscellany

Here are some Bassett stories and accounts over the years:

The Basset Charters

William T. Reedy's 1995 book The Basset Charters begins as follows:

"The Basset family probably produced more royal servants in England, from the reign of Henry I to 1250, than any other family."

The book is an annotated collection of 288 charters (original language texts and modern English summaries) involving 25 of the 27 or more Bassets who served six Norman and Plantagenant kings.  There are brief biographies of these 25, as well as a three table descent chart showing the principal family branches.

Notable among those reviewed are:
  • colleagues Sir Ralph Basset (1076-1120) and Sir Geoffrey Ridel, both royal justices
  • their children Sir Richard Basset (1090-1144) and Maud Ridel who married each other
  • early ancestors of the Basset English peerages
  • and Allan and Thomas Basset who were allies of the Crown named in the Magna Carta.

The Bassets at Tehidy Manor

The Basset family acquired the manor of Tehidy in the middle of the 12th century when William Basset married Cecilia, the heiress of the de Dunstanville family.  Tehidiy was known as Tehidin at that time, being derived from the Cornish ti, meaning "house," followed by the personal name hidin

By 1330 a substantial building existed under William Basset.  It was dismantled during the Cornish Rebellion of 1497 by a group of rebels in revenge for John Basset's loyalty to the Crown as the sheriff for Cornwall. 

Sir Francis Basset lived there in the early 1600's.  He too was a sheriff for Cornwall.  He appears to have been a sportsman, much addicted to hawking and cock-fighting.  A fine painting of him by Vandyk was preserved at Tehidy.

In 1734 a larger mansion was built on the land.  This remained in place until 1861 when John Francis Basset commenced a rebuild, using the large income he received from mining and land rents.  However, the family fortunes then declined and the Bassets vacated the property in 1915 and one year later it was sold. 

Bassetts as Sheriffs of Glamorgan

John Thomas Bassett of Llantrithyd
William Bassett of Beaupre
Richard Bassett of Beaupre
Richard Bassett of Beaupre
William Bassett of Beaupre
William Bassett of Miskin
Richard Bassett of Aberdare
William Bassett of Miskin
William Bassett of Cowbridge
William Bassett of Miskin
Christopher Bassett of Pontyclun
John Bassett of Bonvilston
Ralph Thurston Bassett of Crossways, Cowbridge

Samuel Bassett's Vineyard in Queensland

Samuel Bassett arrived in Queensland in 1858 and by 1863 he had established his vineyards in Roma.  Three years later he had sold his first wine.   By the turn of the century his marketing list included "burgundy, chablis, hock, claret, riesling, champagne and sauternes, port, muscat, sherry and madeira."  Bassett also sold grapes to overseas markets by packing them in sawdust for safe transit.  Many thousands of cases of grapes from other Roma growers also found their way to eastern markets each year.

The present winery was built in 1878 and is a fine example of those large timber and corrugated iron buildings of yesteryear.  Romavilla has not missed a vintage since 1866, producing from 30,000 to 170,000 litres of wine per year.  

The Bassett Furniture Company in Virginia

If you want to know how it all began, we have to take you back to late 1800's in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to an area northwest of Martinsville, Virginia.  The Bassett family was running a sawmill that supplied rail ties for the new Norfolk & Western line that was being built through the family property.  In 1892, the rail line was completed and the family began looking for new markets for its lumber.

JD Bassett was making a good living traveling the countryside selling his goods for general stores when he began carrying lumber samples from the mill.   He quickly learned that the best markets for Appalachian oak was up north and he began to make inroads into those markets.  JD recalled:

“Here I was shipping raw lumber from Henry County in Virginia to Jamestown, New York, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, where factories converted that lumber into finished furniture to be shipped everywhere, including the South.  It seemed to me that furniture certainly could be made in Henry County at a tremendous advantage."

Bassett and his brothers laid out a plan and in 1902 the Bassett Furniture Company was born.  Today the company has over a hundred retail outlets for its furniture throughout North America. 

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