Rossiter

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A surname of England and Ireland from the English place names Rochester (Kent) - the town of the bridges, or ? Wroxeter (Shropshire) Rochecestre in Doomsday Book. (Cottle, Ekwall, Spiegelhalter). Traced by Guppy in Dorset, by Spiegelhalter in Devon, and by MacLysaght especially in Wexford.

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At England: National Archives, England - Ref# ADM 36/16250: Thomas Rossetter, aged 21 born in Wexford, Ireland. Ship: HMS Conqueror - Rating/Rank: Able Seaman - 31 May 1805.
At Ferryland: Supreme Court Records: October 2, 1827 - Holdsworth, Henry - Sued: Rossiter, John.
  Supreme Court Records: November 4, 1828 - Rossiter, John - Foreman of Petty Jury in Haley vs. Norris.
  Supreme Court Records: August 3, 1829 - Robert Fitzhenry stole blankets from the home of John Rossiter. Elizabeth and Mary Rossiter testified in Fitzhenry vs. Rossiter.
  Supreme Court Records: October 16, 1833 - Rossiter, John - Petty Jury Member.
  Supreme Court Records: February 23, 1835 - John Rossiter, member of petty jury in Mahan vs. Connors.
At Caplin Bay: Voter's List for Caplin Bay: John Rossiter (Athlone) - 1840, 1841, 1842; Thomas Rossiter (Beach and Cottage Hill) - 1840, 1841, 1842; Michael Rossiter - 1846; 1847, 1849, 1852, 1855, 1859; John Rossiter - 1847, 1849, 1852, 1855, 1859; William Rossiter - 1855, 1859.
  McAlpines 1870/71 Directory: Michael Rossiter, fisherman; William Rossiter, fisherman.
  Lovell's 1871 Directory: John Rossiter, fisherman; William Rossiter, fisherman.
At Fermeuse: McAlpine's 1894-97 Directory - Rossiter Michael, fisherman
Family History: One consistent folklore theme for the Rossiter family is that their ancestor, Thomas Rossiter, fought under Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805. In 2005, a UK website was established to commemorate the 200th year anniversary of that battle. While searching this website, I found a record which indicates that a "Thomas Rossetter, age 21 of Wexford Ireland" an able seaman was on board the HMS Conqueror. I feel that this record validates the Rossiter folklore that has been passed down through generations.

Another validation of this folklore is contained in a letter written by the late Howard Morry of Ferryland to Michael P. Murphy (a St. John's historian) on Jan 18, 1954. This letter provided information regarding the old stone house and premises at Ferryland bought by John Morry (Howard's grandfather) from Arthur Holdsworth in 1844. In this article Mr. Morry wrote "There was a very old man, John Rossitor, whose father fought with Nelson on the Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar and he told me that his father told him, that when he came over here about 1805, the old stone house and stores, one of them which Bill now uses for a fish store, were old buildings then. No one knows when they were built. Rossiter went home to collect his prize money and was never heard of by his family afterwards. They thought he was probably murdered for the prize money". The John Rossiter, who Mr. Morry mentions, was likely 'Stutterin Jack' Rossiter who died at Ferryland in 1911, at the age of 92. A descendant of John Rossiter, the late Ray Curran, wrote in his research "I believe the first Rossiter in Calvert was Thomas, a shipbuilder. In the Great Britain Board of Trade Certificates of Ships Registry for 1751-1854, there is an entry about this Thomas. It states that he built "The Collector" for Robert and James Carter and Elias Rendell. It was a 32 ton sloop and the master was William Dullanty".
  My research indicates that, in addition to Thomas Rossiter, there were a number of other Rossiters who came to the Caplin Bay area. Ferryland Court records indicate that in 1828 there was a John Rossiter who served on a jury there. A year later, another court case identifies that John Rossiter's had some blankets stolen from his house at Ferryland. Elizabeth and Mary Rossiter testified at this trial. From other documents, we learn that this John Rossiter was married to Elizabeth Jordan, who was born at Brigus South about 1794. Based on her calculated age in 1929 (abt. 35) indications are that this John Rossiter was likely from the same generation as Thomas. By 1840, this John Rossiter was not listed at Ferryland, although there was a John Rossiter listed in the Voter's Lists at Freshwater, Cape Broyle from 1840 to 1859. However, he was not the ancestor of later Rossiter families in that settlement.

The earliest Voter's Lists at Caplin Bay shows from 1840 to 1842 there was a John Rossiter living at Athlone on the north side of Caplin Bay. In 1831, he was a witness for an administration petition. In the petition he testified that prior to 1825, Patrick Evoy and his late brother John Evoy (d. 1825) had jointly owned and operated a fishing business on the north side of Caplin Bay. Again the time-frame suggests that this John Rossiter was likely from the same generation as Thomas. This John Rossiter sold his property at Athlone in 1842 and disappeared from documents after that.

Also in the early Voter's Lists for 1840 to 1842, there is a Thomas Rossiter living at the Beach (1840) and then Cottage Hill (1841/1842), but there is no listing for a Thomas afterwards. We don't know if this was the immigrant Thomas, who according to family folklore returned to Ireland or England to collect his prize money and disappeared forever. In the Voter's List of 1844 and 1845, no one with the Rossiter surname is listed at Caplin Bay, but starting in 1846, there are listings for Michael Rossiter, who was born at Caplin Bay about 1809. The following year, in addition to Michael, John (likely 'Stutterin Jack') Rossiter, who married Ellen Boland, is listed and both appear in each succeeding listing up to 1859. In 1855, William Rossiter joins the listing up to 1859. It appears that these three men were all sons of Thomas, and therefore all of the Southern Shore Rossiter families can be traced to the immigrant Thomas Rossiter.
  In Lovell's 1871 Directory, John and William are listed at Caplin Bay, and Michael and William are recorded in McAlpine's 1870/71 Directory. John and William had large families at Caplin Bay, and while some of their sons and daughters stayed in the Caplin Bay area, a number of them left home. This was also the case with their grandchildren, a number of them eventually making there way into the U.S.A. Michael appears to have lived at Caplin Bay until sometime after 1871, however records indicate that at some point in time he must have moved to Fermeuse. All death records for his children indicate that they were born in Fermeuse, but if Michael lived at Caplin Bay until that time, it makes more sense that they were born at Caplin Bay. Michael and his wife Mary are recorded as dying at Fermeuse.
Present Status: Although there are only a few Rossiter families at Calvert, there are quite a few descendants in other families at Calvert, throughout other parts of Newfoundland and the rest of Canada, the U.S.A. and other countries.

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