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 a 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.
  McAlpine's 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 within the Rossiter family is that their ancestor, Thomas Rossiter, fought under Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805. In 2005, the United Kingdom established a website to commemorate the 200th anniversary of that battle. A search of this website produced a record that indicated "Thomas Rossetter, age 21 of Wexford, Ireland," was an able seaman on board the HMS Conqueror during this battle. I feel that this record validates some of the Rossiter family folklore.

Another reference to this family lore appeared 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 [navy] prize money and was never heard of by his family afterwards. They thought he was probably murdered for the prize money.". The John Rossiter, mentioned by Mr. Morry, was 'Stutterin Jack' Rossiter, who died at his daughter's home at Ferryland in 1911, aged 92 years. One of his descendants, 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 Rossiter. The entry indicated Thomas built 'The Collector' "for Robert and James Carter and Elias Rendell. It was a 32-ton sloop, and its master was William Dullanty".
  While Ray only identifies Thomas Rossiter, further research indicated that several other Rossiter families were present in the Ferryland/ Caplin Bay area in the first four decades of the 1800s. Ferryland Court recorded that in 1828 there was a John Rossiter who served on a petty jury there. A year later, another court case identifies that this 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 John Rossiter of Ferryland was married to Elizabeth Jordan, born at Brigus South about 1794. Based on Elizabeth's calculated age in 1829 (abt. 35), indications are that this John Rossiter was likely from the same generation as Thomas Rossiter of Caplin Bay. By 1840, this John Rossiter was no longer living at Ferryland. However, per the Voter's Lists from 1840 to 1859, a John Rossiter was living at Freshwater, Cape Broyle, (north shore). We know this John was not the ancestor of later Rossiter families in that settlement, but he could have been the John Rossiter who had previously lived at Ferryland.

The surviving Voter's Lists at Caplin Bay from 1840 to 1842; show another John Rossiter at Athlone on the North Side of Caplin Bay. Previously in 1831, John was a witness in an Administration Petition filed by Patrick Evoy of that settlement. In the petition, John Rossiter testified that up 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 this timeframe suggests that this John Rossiter was likely from the same generation as Thomas Rossiter of Caplin Bay and John Rossiter of Ferryland. John Rossiter, of Athlone, had at least two sons, Alexander and Richard. He sold his property at Athlone in 1842, and they all disappeared from any documents after that.

The Voter's Lists for 1840 to 1842 show that Thomas Rossiter lived at the Beach (1840) and then at Cottage Hill (1841/1842), but there is no listing afterwards for Thomas. We don't know if this was the immigrant Thomas Rossiter who, according to family folklore, returned to Ireland or England to collect his prize money and then disappeared forever. In the Voter's List of 1844 and 1845, no one with the Rossiter surname was a voter at Caplin Bay. In 1846, there was a listing for Michael Rossiter, born at Caplin Bay about 1809. The following year, in addition to Michael, John (likely 'Stutterin Jack') Rossiter, who married Ellen Boland, is listed, with both of them appearing in each succeeding List up to 1859. In 1855, William Rossiter joined the Voter's List. These three men were probably Thomas' sons. If so, all Southern Shore Rossiter families are descendants of the immigrant Thomas Rossiter.
  In Lovell's 1871 Directory, John and William Rossiter were at Caplin Bay, and Michael and William Rossiter appeared 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 the case with their grandchildren, with some of them eventually making their 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 moved to Fermeuse. Although all death records for his children indicated they were born in Fermeuse, if Michael lived at Caplin Bay until that time, it makes more sense that they were born at Caplin Bay, not Fermeuse. Both Michael Rossiter and his wife Mary (MacNamara) died 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, other parts of Newfoundland and the rest of Canada, the U.S.A. and other countries

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