Bisset, William (1758-1834) (DNB00)

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BISSET, WILLIAM, D.D. (1758–1834), Irish bishop, was a member of the ancient family of Bisset of Lessendrum, Drumblade, near Huntly, in Aberdeenshire. His father was the Rev. Alexander Bisset, D.D., chancellor of Armagh, who died in 1782. William Bisset. who was born 27 Oct. 1758, was, like his father, educated at Westminster, where he was admitted a king’s scholar in 1771, and at Christ Church, Oxford, to which he was elected a scholar in 1775, and where he took his degree of B.A. 4 Nov. 1779, and proceeded M.A. 7 Feb. 1782 (Cat. Oxford Graduates). He was presented in 1784 to the rectory of Dunbin, in the county of Louth, which he resigned upon his collation, 31 Jan. 1791, to the prebend of Loughgall, or Leval-leaglish, in the cathedral church of Armagh. In 1794 he became rector of Clonmore, and in 1804 was collated, on 29 Sept., to the archdeaconry of Ross, in what had been, since 1583, the united episcopate of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross. In 1807 he resigned his prebendal stall of Loughgall in order to become rector of Donoghmore, and was appointed, 1812, to the rectory of Loughgilly. All his preferments, with the exception of the archdeaconry of Ross, were within the diocese of Armagh. A few years afterwards he was appointed to the chancellorship of Armagh, to which he was collated on 23 August 1817, thus succeeding his father after an interval of twenty-five years. As his final preferment, Bisset was promoted by the Marquis of Wellesley, lord-lieutenant of Ireland, 1821–1828, to the bishopric of Raphoe. His patent was dated 5 June 1822. He administered the affairs of the diocese with general approval. On the death of Dr. Magee, archbishop of Dublin, 19 Aug. 1831, Bisset was pressed to become his successor, but he declined on the ground of increasing infirmities. He built several churches in his diocese, and expended a considerable sum of money on the improvement of the palace at Raphoe; and when the parliamentary grant was withdrawn from the Association for discountenancing Vice, his lordship supplied the loss. Bisset died 5 Sept. 1834, whilst on a visit to his nephew at Lessendrum. His clergy erected to his memory a monument in the cathedral, with an inscription by W. Archer Butler. At his death the see of Raphoe became annexed to that of Derry. The authorship of a ‘Life of Edmund Burke,' London, 1798, was erroneously claimed for him, the real author being Robert Bisset, LL.D. [q. v.]

[Douglass Baronage of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1798; New Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. xii. Edinburgh, 1844; Cotton's Fasti Ecclesiæ Hibernicæ; Cork Evening Herald, quoted in the Record, 15 Sept. 1834; Dublin Evening Mail, quoted in the St. James's Chronicle, 16 Sept. 1834.]

A. H. G.