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About the study

The Blissenden One-Name Study started through the usual route of research into my own ancestry. I first came across the surname on the birth certificate of my 2 x great grandfather in 1862. It is such a unique name that I thought I would have no problem tracing it a long way back. However the last Blissendens I located in my ancestral tree were in Deal, Kent in the late 1700s. I have only managed to trace them one stage further to 1740s in Sanderstead, Surrey under the name Besenden. Tracing my ancestors'€™ siblings was one of the few ways I could think of to try and break the brick wall. This is very much an ongoing investigation.

Variant names

The variants I have come across in my research appear mainly to be as a result of spelling differences rather than true variants. However the name Besenden was clearly recorded over a period of more than 50 years in Sanderstead, Surrey.

The spelling variants I have come across include:

Blissenden                                                          Besenden
Blissington                                                          Bessington
Blissingden                                                          Bissenden

Name origin

Unknown at this time although, the Blissenden surname doesn’t appear to be a locative one i.e. derived from a place or be patronomic.

Historical occurrences of the name

I have not come across any Blissendens who have achieved particular notoriety so far.

One of the earliest references I'€™ve come across is in the 1633 will of Edmund Wilson of St Mary Bowe, London where it says '€˜I remit to my cousin Blissenden the five pounds he oweth unto me and I give unto her five pounds more.'* Source: New England Historical and Genealogical Register V42

In The Oxinden Letters 1607-1642 it notes: '€˜the summ of fowre pounds to be paid to Mr Frauncis Blissenden of St John'€™s Colledge in Cambridge for the use of Mr James Oxinden his pupill'

In 1664 a Thomas Blissenden endorsed the claim that Alice Rasell of Newington, widow bewitched*16 year old John Brown. Source: Witch Hunting and Witch Trails In 1875 in Queenstown, Co. Cork, Eliza Lessenden alias Blessenden, was found guilty of having '€˜Abused complainant (Margaret Frake) called her improper names & (made) threats of violence & menaces put her in bodily fear.' Eliza was fined five pounds and required to give two surities of ten pounds ten shillings or face 14 days in jail

Name frequency

According to FindmyPast there were 28 Blissenden/Besendens recorded in the 1841 census, 13 of which were in Deal, Kent. By the 1911 census 25 Blissendens were recorded in the UK evenly spread in Kent, Yorkshire and Surrey.

According to an ONS database there are 11 Blissendens as of September 2002. This makes it the joint 134,717th most common name in England and Wales.

In the records of and FindmyPast there are records available in non-UK countries:

United States2

Distribution of the name

In the UK Census records the distribution is as follows:

Dorset   10%    
Durham    7%
Essex   10%   10%
Hampshire     5%
London/Middex11%  13%  20%58%35%
Surrey       36%
Sussex  6%
Yorkshire    27%5%45%36%
On a Vessel  6%

There are several records in:

  • Newtownards, Ireland
  • Philadelphia & New York, USA
  • Ontario, Canada
  • NSW, Australia