James Gordon Partridge Bisset was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England on 14 July 1883. He was one of six children born of a Scottish father, bookkeeper James Smith Bisset, and an English mother, Sarah Ellen Butler.
As a five-year-old boy, he later recalled, he was taken aboard the Great Eastern, then moored on the Mersey as a floating exhibition.
Bisset was apprenticed to sea in 1898; in May 1903 he gained his second mate’s certificate, followed by that of first mate in February 1905 and his master’s certificate in February 1907. By 1908 he was extra third officer aboard Ivernia, then giving his address as 4 Cambridge Street, Liverpool where the family appeared on the 1911 census.
In April 1912 he was serving as second officer aboard the eastward-bound voyage of the Carpathia when that ship rescued the survivors of the Titanic.
He later returned to sea and was married in London in 1913 to May Hodgson (b. 1888) and their only child, son James Gordon Barry, was born in 1917.
Bisset served at sea with the merchant fleet during both World Wars, rising to the rank of Chief Officer and later taking command in 1926. He was made a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) and was later commodore of the Cunard Line from 1944 until his retirement in 1947, commanding both the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth.
Sir James Bisset
(Liverpool Echo; 11 November 1961 and 29 March 1967)
With retirement he settled in Cheltenham but later accepted an executive post with the Australian Motorists Petrol Company and went to live in Australia for thirteen years, later returning to the UK.
James Bisset died at Queens Park Nursing Home in Bournemouth on 28 March 1967 at the age of 83, leaving an estate valued at £9011. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Solent.