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Search for the Passengers of the Mary and John 1630

1 May 2009 Leave a comment

Source: Burton W. Spear, Search for the Passengers of the Mary and John 1630, Volume 13 (Toledo, Ohio: Burton W. Spear, 1990).

[page 30]

Unanswered Questions on the English Ancestries and Birthplaces of the “Mary and John” Families of 1630.

EDWARD ROSSITER

According to NER Jan. 1984, p. 4-16, he was the son of Nicholas ROSSITER (d. 1 Apr. 1608) & Eliza _____ (bu. 28 Apr. 1608), of Comb St. Nicholas, Somerset, but no wills have been found.  His grandfather was Philip ROSSITER & (1) _____, of Combe St. Nicholas and his great-grandfather was Richard ROSSITER (1463-1529) & Elizabeth PERYE, dau. of William PERYE & _____, dau. of John FRYE.  No wills found.

Parish records of Combe St. Nicholas before 1678 are lost & Edward Rossiter left no will.

There is a Dr. CAMPBELL, a genealogist in Combe St. Nicholas who is claimed to have a great deal of information on the ROSSITERs, FRYEs & TORREY family, all of that village.  Ref: NER Jan. 1937, p. 145-151.  (See Vol. 3, p. 43)

[page 94]

THREE GENERATIONS OF DESCENDANTS OF WILLIAM BLAKE OF DORCHESTER, MASS.

William BLAKE – Bpt. 10 July 1594, Pitminster, Somerset.  He died, 25 Oct. 1663, Dorchester, Mass.  He married, Agnes BAND, 27 Sept. 1617, Pitminster, prob. widow of Richard BAND & dau. of Hugh THORN.  He was granted land in Dorchester on 14 May 1636 and he became a freeman and a member of the church on 14 Mar. 1639.  It is not known when he came to New England.  (Vol. 12, p. 79)

Children of William BLAKE & Agnes (THORN) BAND (Vol. 12, p. 79)

1. John BLAKE – Bpt. 30 Aug. 1618, Pitminster.  He died, 25 Jan. 1688/9, Boston.  He married, Mary (SOUTHER) SHAW, 16 Aug. 1654.  He was one of the executors of the will of Governor John WINTHROP in 1676.  No issue.

2. Anne BLAKE- Bpt. 30 Aug. 1618 (twin?), Pitminster.  She died, 12 July 1681, Boston.  She married, (1) Jacob LEAGER of Boston, who died, 24 Feb. 1662/3 & (2) _____ HALLOWELL.  Her tombstone is in the Boston Society.

Children of Anne BLAKE & Jacob LEAGER (Vol. 11, p. 79)

a. Bethia LEAGER- Bpt. 6 Oct. 1651, Dorchester, Mass.  She m. Fearnot SHAW, blacksmith, s. of Joseph SHAW of Weymouth, Mass.  She had two children: Jacob, b. 6 Nov. 1672.  (2) John, b. 30 Mar. 1678, who m. Mercy SMITH.

b. Hannah LEAGER- B. 14 Nov. 1655, Boston.  She d. 13 Oct. 1690.  She m. (1) John WALKER, brick burner, a. 1676, s. of Thomas & Ann WALKER of Boston.  The had one dau., Hannah WALKER, 25 Apr. 1677, who prob. never married.  Hannah LEAGER m. (2) Thomas PHILIPS of Boston, perhaps s. of Nicholas PHILIPS, by whom she had one child, Hannah PHILIPS, 7 Sept. 1690.

3. William BLAKE Jr.- Bpt. 6 Sept. 1620, Pitminster.  He died, 3 Sept. 1703, Milton, Mass.  He married, (10 [sic] Anna _____, whose name does not appear until 1665 & (2) Hannah TOLMAN, 22 Nov. 1693, Milton, who d. 4 Aug. 1729, dau. of Thomas TOLMAN (M&J passenger) & widow Sarah LYON.

Children of William BLAKE Jr. & (1) Anna (Vol. 12 p. 8)

a. Samuel BLAKE- B. 14 May 1650, Dorchester.  He d. 1719, Taunton.  He m. Sarah MACEY, dau. of George and Susanna MACEY of Taunton.  He had seven children: (1) Priscilla, who m. John SMITH, 1700, s. of Nathaniel SMITH.  (2) Samual Jr., b.a. 1680, who may have m. Sarah PITTS.  (3) Edward, b.a. 1689, m. Anna HANOVER.  (4) Susanna.  (5) Sarah, m. Joseph TOPLIFF.  (6) Hannah.  (7) Jerusha.

b. Anne BLAKE- Bpt. 7 Mar. 1651, Dorchester.  d.y.

c. Anne BLAKE- B. 6 Mar. 1652/3, Dorchester.  Died, 9 May 1722, Taunton.  She m. Thomas GILBERT, 18 Dec. 1676, Boston, s. of John & Jane GILBERT of Taunton.  Eight children: (1) Hannah, b. 28 Sept. 1677, m. William PHILLIPS.  (2) Sarah, b. 11 Aug. 1679, m. John WILLIS.  (3) Mary (twin), b. 11 Aug. 1679, m. Joseph WILLIAMS.  (4) Thomas, b. 11 July 1681. d.y.  (5) Nathaniel, b. 19 July 1683, m. Hannah BRADFORD.  (6) Mehitable, b. 5 May 1686.   (7) Susanna, b. 1687, m. William HODGES.  (8) Experience, b. 1689, m. John TOWNSEND.  (Ref: Gilberts of New England, pt. 1, p. 81)

d. Mary BLAKE- B. 20 Mar. 1654/5, Dorchester.  She m. (1) Joseph LEONARD, 1679 & (2) _____ WILLIS.  Seven children by first husband: (1) Mary, b. 2 Oct. 1680.  (2) Experience, b. 18 Mar. 1682.  (3) Joseph, b. 28 Jan. 1684.  (4) Mehitable, b. 22 Aug. 1685.  (5) Edward, b. 2 Nov. 1688.  (6) William, b. 26 Mar. 1690.  (7) Silence.  (Ref: Savage 3:80)

e. William BLAKE- B. 22 Feb. 1656/7, Dorchester.  Soldier in 1675 & 1690.  Died before 1699.

f. Nathaniel BLAKE- B. 4 July 1659, Dorchester.  Died, 5 Oct. 1720, Milton.  He m. Martha MORY, dau. of Walter MORY.  Seven children: (1) William, b. 21 July 1696, m. Hannah _____.  (2) Nathaniel Jr., b. 26 Feb. 1697/7, m. Elizabeth EVANS.  (3) Simon, b. 1 June 1700, m. Hannah BADCOCK.  (4) James, b. 18 Sept. 1702, m. Abigail TUCKER.  (5) Joseph, b. 27 July 1705.  (6) David, b. 12 July 1707.  (7) Jonathan, b. 12 July 1707.

[page 80]

g. Edward BLAKE- b. 13 Apr. 1662, Dorchester.  He died, 1737.  He m. Elizabeth MORY, 26 June 1696, sister of his brother’s (Nathaniel) wife.  Six children: (1) Anna, b. 7 Apr. 1697, m. _____ STEARNS.  (2) Edward Jr., b. 22 July 1697, m. Elizabeth FRENCH.  (3) Aaron, b. 23 Feb. 1699/1700.  (4) Mary, b. 13 Jan. 1701/2.  (5) Elizabeth, b. 5 Apr. 1704, m. _____ BELCHER.  (6) Moses, b. 6 Aug. 1706, m. Hannah HORTON.

h. Experience BLAKE- B. 17 June 1665, Dorchester.  He <sic> m. Eleazer CARVER, s. of John & Millicent CARVER.  Res: S. Bridgewater.

i. Agnes BLAKE- B. 29 Sept. 1667, Milton.

j. Susan BLAKE- B. 20 July 1670, Milton.  D. 4 May 1676.

k. Mehitable BLAKE- B. 2 Apr. 1673, Milton.  She m. William BRIGGS Jr., 16 June 1696, of Taunton.

4. James BLAKE- Bpt. 27 Apr. 1623, Pitminster.  Died, 28 June 1700, Dorchester.  He married (1) Elizabeth CLAPP, a. 1651, dau. of Dea. Edward CLAPP & Prudence CLAPP, who died, 16 Jan. 1693/4, age 61.  He m. (2) Elizabeth SMITH, 17 Sept. 1695, dau. of Henry 7 <sic> Judith SMITH & widow of Peter HUNT.
He built a house in 1650 in Dorchester that still stands today […]

5. Edward BLAKE- His will: 31 Aug. 1692, inventory, 3 Nov. 1692.  He m. Patience POPE, dau. of John & Jane POPE of Dorchester […]

[page 81]

References:

BLAKE Family, A Genealogical History, William BLAKE of Dorchester, by Samuel BLAKE, 1857.

A Record Of The BLAKES Of Somerset, by Horatio G. SOMERBY.

Increase BLAKE Of Boston, His Ancestors & Descendants, With A Full Account of William BLAKE Of Dorchester, by Francis E. BLAKE, 1898.

[page 121]

THE ROSSITER, TORREY, FRY & COMBE FAMILIES OF COMBE ST. NICHOLAS, SOMERSET.

The village and parish of Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset provided a number of families who came to New England between 1630 and 1640.  Edward ROSSITER came first, with his family on the “Mary & John” in 1630.  He was one of the Assistants of the Massachusetts Bay Company and one of the most prominent passengers on that ship.  He was followed in 1640 by the TORREYs and FRYs.  A great deal of credit for this article, and particularly the photos and map, is due Miss Patricia PEARCE, of Shepton Beauchamp, Somerset, who visited Combe St. Nicholas and searched the records in the Somerset Record Office, Taunton.

THE ROSSITERS

Edward ROSSITER may have come with his wife _____ COMBE, daughter of John COMBE and brother of Joesph [sic] COMBE, but she may have died in England because there is no record of her in New England.

Evidently, Rev. John WHITE of Dorchester, Dorset, loaned Edward ROSSITER considerable money to prepare for his journey to New England.  The total debt was 106 pounds, 9 shillings & 9 pence and it was partly paid by Edward’s son, Nicholas, before their departure.  But when Edward died on 23 Oct. 1630, there was still 15 pounds, 25 shillings due Rev. WHITE.  Among the charges was 47 pounds, 13 shillings & 4 pence, for the passage of 13 passengers (3 pounds, 13 shillings & 4 pence each).

Following is an attempt to identify these people.  The five unknown passengers may have included, Edward’s wife (if she was still living), grandchildren and servants.

1. Edward ROSSITER

2. Son, Nicholas ROSSITER, who later returned.

3. Wife of Nicholas ROSSITER, who later returned.

4. Edward ROSSITER, son of Nicholas, who later returned.

5. Son, Bray ROSSITER.

6. Wife of Bray ROSSITER.

7. Daughter, Jane ROSSITER.

8. Son, Hugh ROSSITER, who later returned.

Plus five unidentified passengers.

[page 124]

THE FRYS

George FRY, came with his brother-in-law, William TORREY.  He was possibly the son of the George FRY who witnessed the will of Joseph COMBE of Combe St. Nicholas, 21 Mar. 1619/20.  The FRYs were also related to the ROSSITER & COMBE families.

THE COMBES

Although no member of the COMBE family of Combe St. Nicholas has been found that came to New England, they married into the above families.

THE WADFORD FARM & MILL OF PHILIP ROSSITER

Edward ROSSITER’s great-grandfather, Richard ROSSITER, was the first proved land owner in Combe St. Nicholas.  When he died in 1529 he owned 4 messuages & 543 acres here.  At that time his son Philip (Edward’s grandfather) inherited 4 messuages, 31 acres of meadow, 312 acres of pasture & 200 acres of woodland.  In the 1583 Survey of the parish (SAS/SE86), “Philipus ROSSITER, gent. (farmer or husbandman) owned a dwelling and a new tucking mill.  He paid 17 pounds a year to the Lord of the Manor (Wells Deanery).  The other freemen of Combe were William BONNER, gent.- 15 pounds, William JEANES- 12 pounds, John BUETT- 2 pounds, John WALROD- 4 pounds, John DEWNELL- 20 pounds and _____ MALLETT- 12 pounds.

[photo]

Wadeford House (16th) of Philip ROSSITER

[page 125]

Philip ROSSITER’s house was called Wadeford and the fulling mill (woolen mill), which has been carefully restored, still stand today in a hamlet about 3/4 miles SE of Combe St. Nicholas.  This is one of seven mills within a few miles of each other on the River Isle, the others all being grist mills for corn.

[photo]

Fulling Mill At Wadeford, Once Owned By Philip ROSSITER

Court Roll – 27 July 1608 – To the court came Thomasin CLARKE, William ROSSITER (brother or cousin of Edward?) and John CLARKE and surrendered a tenement called a “ten acre tenement” in the tithing of XII sect. granted again to John and Jane MARDEN.  (The three named above were witnesses.  Ref: ADD/277.)

1641, Nicholas ROSSITER, gent., of Combe (son of Edward, after Nicholas returned to England), holds for 3 lives, his property on lease – Anne, Jane & Mary ROSSITER, all daughters of Nicholas.  Ref: ADD/302.

THE LOWER CLAYHANGER FARM OF THE FRY FAMILY

The FRY family held a lease in 1574 (and possibly earlier) on the Lower Clayhanger Farm, less than a mile NE of Wadeford, where Philip ROSSITER lived.

[photo]

Entrance To Farmyard Of Lower Clayhanger House Of FRY Family

[page 126]

The Lower Clayhanger house, which is still standing today, is in the “Listed Buildings”, p. 1-2, ADD/281, dated, 1608.  In the 1583 Survey of Combe St. Nicholas, rents were paid in Clayhanger tithing by: Robertus WARRYE- 13 pounds, John COGAN- 14 pounds, Symond KNIGHT- 2 pounds, Matthew GILLETT– 13 pounds, Thomas KNIGHT- 12 pounds and John GILLETT- 3 pounds.

NOTE:     Savage says there was a Matthew GILLET who came on the Mary & John in 1634, first settled in Dorchester and then in Windsor in 1636.  Banks says he came on the Mary & John in 1634 but settled in Salem.  Stiles’ History of Windsor does not list him.

Today the house is a private residence, with Hamstone mullioned windows, a kitchen with a bread oven and a mullioned window in the rear wall.  The roof was renewed in the early 19th century.  The walls are two feet thick.  The original date of the house cannot be placed because of work in 1940 destroyed much of the dating evidence.

Court Roll, 9 Oct. 1593 – To this court came John FRY and Agnes, his wife, and Isabella, wife of Richard SCREVEN.  John FRY holds by right of his wife, Agnes, one tenement called a “ten acre tenement”, with the apprutenances in the tithing of Betham, to remain now of the said Isabella, by the names of Agnes COMBE and Isabella COMBE (daughters of John COMBE, deceased), John FRY and Agnes and Richard and Isabella SCREVEN, surrendered each and all into the hands of the Lord and all estates and interest in the said premises, with the intent that John FRY might be able to receive them again.  Whereupon at this same court, the said John FRY, came and took from the Lord at the Steward’s hands, the said apputtenances, to have and to hold, for the lives of John FRY, Joseph COMBE and William COMBE, sons of the late John COMBE.  Ref: ADD/257.

27 Sept. 1597George FRY came to Court of Combe and leased land called “Wagges”, for the lives of George and his brother, John FRY of Ewell and John FRY, son of Lawrence of Stolfird.  Ref: ADD/265.

15 Oct. 1608– To this Court came Dorothea (RICHARDS) FRY, wife of John FRY, the younger, gent., of Chehanger (Clayhanger), and took the reversion of one cottage, with curtilage, one acre of same, under Old Auster (A Celtic site for the farm, developed by the Saxons and always treated with great respect because of its great age as a site.), all held by John FRY, the younger, for the term of his life.  To have and to hold for the lives of Dorothea, William FRY, son of William of Plymouth, Devon, yeoman, John RICHARDS, son of John of Churchstation, Devon.  Ref: ADD/281.

[page 127]

HAM FARM, HOME OF THE COMBE FAMILY

In 1599 Thomas COMBE at Ham Farm held 20 acres.  This about one and one half miles N of Combe St. Nicholas.  This was by “old Austet”, and ancient Celtic site.  This farm is now occupied by Mr. HUTCHINGS.

[photo]

Mr. HUTCHINGS at Ham Farm with Shep & Sam

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The Great Migration Begins: Edward Rossiter

28 January 2009 Leave a comment

Source: Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volume 3, P-W (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995).

[page 1600]

EDWARD ROSSITER

ORIGIN:  Combe St. Nicholas, Somersetshire

MIGRATION: 1630

FIRST RESIDENCE: Dorchester

CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: As one of the leaders of the migration to Dorchester in New England, ROSSITER was presumably a member of Dorchester church, but there is no record to confirm this.

OFFICES: Assistant, 20 October 1629, 7 September 1630 (fined for absence from court)[MBCR 1:60, 75].

ESTATE: Sometime in 1631 Reverend John WHITE of Dorchester, Dorsetshire, prepared an account of monies owed to him by various persons in New England, among which was “The account of Mr. Edward ROSSETER’s Executor’s,” which showed that ROSSITER owed WHITE £106 9s. 9d., of which he or his son Nicholas had paid £91 7s. 9d. by 1 April 1631; most of the debt was for “the passage of 13 persons at £3 13s. 4d. each person,” along with their baggage and other goods [John White 463-64, citing MHSP 47:346-47].

BIRTH: Combe St. Nicholas, Somersetshire, say 1575, son of Nicholas and Elizabeth (_____) ROSSITER [NEHGR 138:10-11].

DEATH: 23 October 1630 (“Mr. ROSSITER one of the Assistants died” [WP 2:268]).  “The Lord hath stripped us of some principal persons: Mr. JOHNSON and his Lady, Mr. ROSSITER, Mrs. PHILIPS and other unknown to thee, we conceive that this disease grew from ill diet at sea and proved infectious” [WP 2:320].

MARRIAGE: By about 1599 _____ COMBE (perhaps), daughter of John COMBE of Combe St. Nicholas.  Edward is referred to as “my brother” by Joseph COMBE [TAG 13:146].

CHILDREN:

[page 1601]

i     NICHOLAS, b. say 1599; m. Anne _____ [NEHGR 138:14, citing PCC 98 Pembroke].

ii    DOROTHY, b. say 1608; m. Combe St. Nicholas 12 February 1629/30 Martin GROUT [NEHGR 138:12].

iii   BRYAN, b. say 1610; m. Elizabeth ALSOP [Waters 426-27, citing PCC 139 Mico].

iv    JANE, b. say 1614; m. Taunton 23 March 1639/40 Thomas GILBERT [NEHGR 138:13].

v     HUGH, b. say 1615; m. by 1641 Dorothy (COMBE) NORRIS [NEHGR 138:13].

vi    JOANE, b. about 1616 (d. Plymouth 9 June 1691 “being 75 years of age” [PChR 1:271]); m. Nicholas HART.

COMMENTS: WINTHROP records that on Thursday, 17 June 1630, “We lay at Mr. MAVEROCKE’s, and returned home on Saturday, as we came home we came by Nataskett, and sent for Capt. SQUIB ashore (he had brought the west country people, viz. Mr. LUDLOWE, Mr. ROSSITER, Mr. MAVEROCK, etc. to the Bay who were sent down at Mattapan)” [WP 2:264].

Despite the prominence and wealth of Edward ROSSITER, the identities of his chilren and their spouses remain remarkably uncertain.  In 1937 Meredith B. Colket discussed in great detail several of these problems [TAG 13:146-48].  Geoffrey Gilbert has also carefully examined some of these problems [Gilberts of New England 32-49].

BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE: Both at the beginning and end of his career Meredith B. Colket, Jr., wrote definitive treatments of the ROSSITER family, first in 1937 and then in 1984 [TAG 13:145-151; NEHGR 138:4-16].

Edward Rossiter, Colonist, of Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay Colony

8 May 2008 Leave a comment

Source: Meredith B. Colket, Jr., “Edward Rossiter, Colonist, of Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay Colony and
the Rossiter English Lineage,” New England Historical and Genealogical Register 138[1984]:4-16.

1. INTRODUCTION

Edward Rossiter of Combe St. Nicholas, co. Somerset and of Dorchester, Massachusetts, gentleman, one of the Assistants of Governor John Winthrop, came to this country in 1630, but died that year. Of his children, three would become forebears of descendants in America: Bryan or Bray, noted physician, ancestor of the Rossiters of America; Jane who married Thomas Gilbert; and Joan who married Nicholas Hart. Information about Edward appears in Meredith B. Colket, Jr., “Edward Rossiter, His Family, and Notes on His English Connections,” The American Genealogist (13[1937]: 145-151).

Even though Edward’s place of origin in New England was known, it had not been possible to determine the identity of his ancestors. There were several stumbling blocks. The original parish registers of the parish prior to 1678 have not survived; neither have Rossiter wills that might have helped reconstruct the pedigree. Original documents that are available are chiefly in Latin, while some that are frail, torn or faded have been deciphered with the use of an ultraviolet lamp. Fortunately, Combe St. Nicholas was on a manor, and many of the manorial court rolls have survived and have been dep[osited in the Somerset Record Office, Taunton, co. Somerset. Fortunately, too, Edward Rossiter and his immediate male-line forbears possessed landed estates of sufficient size to require inquisitions post mortem (also in Latin). These inquiries, addressed to local inhabitants called jurors, determined the land owned by the deceased at the time of death. The deceased were usually tenants in chief of the king.

Through the enthusiastic interest and support of Mr. Charles Fitch-Northen, a scholar of Paignton, Devon, appropriate records in Latin as translated by him, and other records, have been made available for the preparation of this article. A descendant of Edward Rossiter, he was stimulated by the appearance of the article in The American Genealogist years ago. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to him for the thoroughness of his research and for his suggestions. The organization of this article, the points of view expressed, the interpretation of evidence and the conclusions drawn are the sole responsibility of the compiler. Photocopies of the essential records, the basis of which this study has been made, are being deposited in the library of the New England Historic Genealogical Society for future reference.

II. THE ROSSITER SURNAME AND EMBRYONIC BEGINNINGS

The surname Rossiter (or Rosseter as it is often written) was spelled variously before the end of the
sixteenth century. We find Rocetre, Rocetor, Rocestre, Rossa, Rosseltur, Rosy, Roucetre, Roncetre, and very early De Roffa, De Rocester and De Rochester. Charles Wareing Bardsley in A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames (London, 1901) declares the derivation of Rossiter in most cases is probably from a place name, “of Rochester.”

It is known that, before surnames were inherited, clergy from the See of Rochester in Kent were named Roffa, De Roncestre, De Rochester, and appointed to benefices in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset. Solomon de Rochester (his name was written variously) was named Justice in Eyre, Devon, in 1303.

A Feet of Fines recorded at Exeter, co. Devon 52 Henry III (1267/8) shows that Solomon de Roucester and his brother William had interest in land at Hamne, a village just east of Taunton (Emanuel Green, Pedes Finium: Commonly Called Feet of Fines for the County of Somerset: Richard I to Edward I, AD 1196 to AD 1307, Somerset Record Society, 6 [1892]: 216). In 9 Richard II (1385/6), a William Roucestre was involved in a dispute over land in Knoll and “Chafcombe.” Chaffcombe parish is a short distance southeast of Combe St. Nicholas (Green, Feet of Fines: 21 Edward III to 20 Richard II, AD. 1347 to AD. 1399, ibid., 17 [1902]: 128, 129).

III. THE PRESUMED FOREBEARS OF THE ROSSITERS OF COMBE ST. NICHOLAS AND THE ROSSITER COAT OF ARMS

In 1445 and again in 1448, a Richard Roucetre was one of two to present a rector to the Church of Stoke (Walton in Gordano), co. Somerset (H. C. Maxwell-Lyte and M. C. B. Dawes, eds., The Register of Thomas Bekynton, Bishop of Bath and Wells, 1443-1465, ibid., 49 [1934]: 36, 37, 93). A person having the right to determine the holder of a church benefice was obviously a person of some prestige in the community.

This Richard Roucetre was apparently the Richard Roucestre who had married by Martinmas 26 Henry VI (1447) Joan Peion, daughter and heiress of Roger Peion. Roger’s wife was also Joan. The evidence for the relationship is the following Somerset fine:

26 HENRY VI (1447-8). 325. At Westminster in the octave of St. Martin between Henry Perot querent; and Roger Peion and Joan his wife and Richard Roucestre and Joan his wife, daughter and heir of the said Roger, deforciants; for two messuages, forty acres of land, ten acres meadow, and ten acres pasture, in Southbarough (and land in Dorset). Roger and Joan his wife acknowledged the right of Henry; for this Henry granted the same to Richard and Joan his wife and their issue, and if they die without issue then to remain to the right heirs of Roger (Green, Feet of Fines: Henry IV to Richard III, ibid., 22 [1906]: 119).

There are two reasons to suspect that Richard was a forebear of the Rossiters of Combe St. Nicholas: one concerns land ownership; the other the subsequent adoption by prescriptive right (or long-time use) of a coat of arms that uses a pheon, an apparent pun on the surname Peion (the family through whom the Rossiters presumably inherited property). Second, Southbarough, the place named in the fine, is quite obviously the parish of South Barrow, co. Somerset. Later Rossiters, specifically Joan Rosseter, wife of William Hartgill, inherited property at “Barow,” probably the same place.

The coat of arms was argent on a chevron of gules, three pheons or. Now a pheon is a little used heraldic device showing a missile, a barbed head thrown from a crossbow. The use of the coat was confirmed John Rosseter of Old Cleve, co. Somerset, by the College of Arms in 1631 according to The Visitations of the County of Somerset in the Years 1531-1573 (Frederic William Weaver, ed. [Exeter, England, 1885], 128).

A branch of the Rossiters of Combe St. Nicholas located at Aslackby, co. Lincoln, used a variant coat: argent on a chevron gules three pheons of the field (A. R. Maddison, Lincolnshire Pedigrees, The Publication of the Harleian Society 52 [1904]: 83.) The ancient Roucester (Rossiter) family of Rothmacnee, co. Wexford, Ireland used the same coat as in the Somerset visitation with a difference (Bernard Burke, The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales [London, 1884]).

IV. LINEAGE OF THE ROSSITERS (ROSSETERS) OF COMBE ST. NICHOLAS

For over a century the eldest son of the eldest son of the Rossiters at Combe St. Nicholas were members of the landed gentry. The first generation below is the generation that preceded them. This generation can only be partially recreated.

1. —– ROSSITER (i.e., ROUCESTRE) married before 1562 JOAN —–, who died a widow 2 May 5 Henry VIII (1513). An inquisition post mortem relating only to her Dorset lands was taken at Bridport in that country. No inquest has been found on her husband’s property. If one was taken, it is among the many that have not survived. The Richard ROUCESTRE who was married to Joan Peion described above does not harmonize chronologically with this family. A William Roncestre of Chard, co. Somerset, in a plea of trespass Michaelmas 1464 does harmonize chronologically:

Wm. Roncestre, late of Chard, yeoman, and Joan his wife were attached to answer John Brokhampton on a plea of trespass on property which he leased at Chard…. The suit was to determine ownership of property (“Extraneous Documents,” Somerset Record Society).

The record also harmonizes geographically. Chard is the market town of Combe St. Nicholas, less than three miles away.

Joan’s inquisition post mortem (Public Record Office C 142/79/184 Dorset) as translated from the Latin is abstracted in part below:

The said Joan held no lands or tenements from the king in chief in the co. aforesaid on the day when she died. But they say that the said Joan for a long time before the time of her death was seized of four messuages one toft two curtilages with appurtenances situated within the borough of Shaftesbury in the co. aforesaid, and of forty acres of [word torn] and pasture and four acres of meadow with appurtenances lying within the hundred of Alcester (in Shaftesbury) in the co. aforesaid in her demesne as of fee and thus seized thereof gave and granted all the same messuages &c. to [name faded.] Roucester her son to have and to hold to him and his heirs for ever by virtue of which gift the same Richard was seized thereof in his demesne as of fee and of such estate is still seized. And they say that the said messuages toft and curtilages with appurtenances are held of the Abbess of Shaftesbury as in right of her church or monastery at Shaftesbury in free burgage tenure [in libero burgagio] and is worth after deductions 50.s. a year. And that the said Joan held no other lands &c. in the said co. on the day when she died and the same Joan died on 2nd May 5 Henry VIII And that the said Richard Roucester is her son and next heir and is of age 50 years and more.

Known issue:

2.i. RICHARD, eldest son, b. 1463 or before.

2. RICHARD ROSSITER (William?) of Combe St. Nicholas, co. Somerset, gentleman, was born circa 1463 or before (aged 50 or more 1513), according to his mother’s inquisition post mortem. He died 3 September 21 Henry VIII (1529) according to his own inquisition.

He married circa 1490 ELIZABETH —– who was deceased at the time of her daughter, Joan Hartgill’s inquisition post mortem in 1558. There are two visitation pedigrees that offer clues as to Elizabeth’s identity. One is the Visitation of Lincolnshire mentioned above which identifies the wife of Richard Rossiter (father of Philip and George) as daughter of Hartgill. However, the Visitation goes on to say that his wife was sister of the Hartgill who was murdered by Lord Stourton (1566/7). Contemporary records show that William Hartgill married Richard’s daughter; so the Visitation is garbled. A better clue is Lt. Col. J. L. Vivian’s Visitation of Devon (1895), p. 591, which in part reprints the 1564 Visitation dealing with Perye of Water, parish of Wembury, co. Devon. Here Elizabeth wife to “Rossetor” is recorded as daughter of William Perye who married a daughter of John Frye. Members of the Frye family are closely associated with the later Rossiters at Combe St. Nicholas.

In 1524 Richard Rossiter, called “Richard Rosseltur, gent.” and his son-in-law William Hartgill were jurors at the inquisition post mortem of William Long at Shafton, i.e. Shaftesbury, co. Dorset (Notes and Queries for Somerset and Dorset 26 [1954/5]: 192). Richard Rossiter was the first proved land owner at Combe St. Nicholas. Called “Richard Rocetr” at his inquisition post mortem held at Ilminster, co. Somerset, on 21 Henry VIII (1529), he then owned in the parish 4 messuages and 543 acres of land (Public Record Office, C 142/57/94, Somerset). He died 3 September 1529 leaving Philip aged 30 and more as his heir.

Children:

i. JOAN, b. ca. 1495, only known dau.; d. 20 July 1558, inquisition post mortem at Shaftsbury, co. Dorset (Public Record Office C 142/116/18 Dorset); m. (settlement) 12 May 6 Henry VIII (1514) William Hartgill of Kilmington, co. Somerset, esquire. The inquisition deals with lands she received in Dorset following the death of her father and mother, Richard and Elizabeth Rossiter, and in accordance with the marriage settlement.

William Hartgill was land steward to William Lord Stourton. When Lord Stourton died in 1554, his son Charles forced his mother not to remarry. She then took refuge in William Hartgill’s home. Charles struck Joan Hartgill with his sword. Later, on 12 Jan. 1556 at Bonham, co. Somerset, he secretly murdered her husband William Hartgill and their son John. For this Charles Lord Stourton was hanged 6 Mar. 1556/7 with a silk noose around his neck. The dramatic story is told in William Phelps, The History and Antiquities of Somersetshire (London, 1839, 1:178-87); in brief in George Edward Cokayne, The Complete Peerage (13 vols. [London, 1910-1940], 12:pt. 1:307. 308); and in great detail in Rev. J. E. Jackson, Charles Lord Stourton and the Hartgill Murders (Devises, 1864). William Hartgill’s will, dated 12 Jan. 1553 was proved 13 Nov. 1557 (P. C. C. 47 Wrastley, Frederick Brown, Abstracts of Somerset Wills, 4th Series, p. 18). William willed his wife Joan “all her lands in Shaftsburye, Barow (obviously parish of South Barrow, co. Somerset) and Bristol for her life.” Note also 1623 Visitation of Somersetshire, p. 46.

3.ii. PHILIP, b. ca. 1499, eldest son.

iii. GEORGE, perhaps b. ca. 1505, second son; m. ANN WILLIAMS. He was presumably the one of this name described as “George Rocetour, my servant” who was willed 40 s. in the 1537 will of Dame Elizabeth Speke (widow of Sir John Speke, knt.) of East Doulish, co. Somerset (P. C. C. 16 Dyngeley. See Somerset Wills, Somerset Record Society 21 [1905]: 38-39). He headed the armigerous branch of the family that removed to Aslackby, co. Lincoln, and appeared in Maddison’s Lincolnshire Pedigrees.

3. PHILIP ROSSITER or ROSSETER (Richard, William?) of Combe St. Nicholas, co. Somerset, gentleman, was born circa 1499 or before (over 30 years of age in 1529 when his father died). Philip probably died in 1583 or shortly thereafter. He is last named in the 1583 Survey of the Prebendaries of Welles Manor, Combe St. Nicholas, the record being in the Somerset Archeology Society, Taunton (Records No. SF 86; photocopy of record retained). Philip married twice, the first marriage having taken place about 1538. The identity of this wife is unknown.

Philip married secondly at North Curry, co. Somerset, on 30 April 1564 KATHERINE LYTE. The marriage is published in W. P. W. Phillimore’s Somerset Parish Registers: Marriages, 15 v. ([London, 1898-1915], 2:79): “Philip Rossetergen and Katherine Lite laste of Apr. 1564,” the abbreviation “gen” standing for generosus (i.e., gentleman).

North Curry lies five miles east of Taunton. The parish embraces the manor of Tillesdon, residence of William Lyte (called Black William) whose identity as father of Katherine, the wife of Philip Rossiter, appears in the extensive Lyte pedigree in the 1623 “Visitation of Wiltshire” (The Publication of the Harleian Society, v. 105/6:230-234, especially 232, 1954). Philip Rossiter is described in the visitation as of St. Collies Combe uxta Chard. Collies in early days was the colloquial name for Nicholas. Chard was the market town 2-1/2 miles southeast of Combe St. Nicholas.

William Lyte married Dorothea, daughter of Edward Kellway of Rockborne, co. Wilts, knight. Among William’s other children was Gertrude who married Thomas Howard, Viscount Howard of Bindon, Queen Elizabeth’s first cousin (see Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, 6:583, 584). William was a member of the distinguished Lyte family of Lyte’s Cary, parish of Charlton Mackerell being the second son of Thomas, Lord of the manor. The story of Lytes Cary Manor House was written by William George in 1879. The impressive manor house has survived. It is now a property of the National Trust and partly opened to the public.

In 1529 at the time of Philip’s father’s death, the inquistion post mortem shows that he inherited in Combe St. Nicholas 4 messuages, 31 acres meadow, 312 acres of pasture and 200 acres of woodland. In the reign of Elizabeth, 1569, Philip “Roceter” of the Tithing of Combe furnished a corslet of armor to the crown (Emanuel Green, Certificate of Muster in the County of Somerset: Temp. Elizabeth A.D. 1569, Somerset Record Society, 20 [1904]: 262).

Three Combe St. Nicholas lay subsidies in the Public Record Office show payment of taxes:

Ca 1557 Philip Rosy gent assessed £16 for relief, paid 16 shillings. The four others taxed in the parish were husbandmen (3-6 Edward VI, No. E 179/170/254).

1570/1 Phillipus Rocetor gen in terris assessed £4 paid 10 s. 4 d. He was the only inhabitant that year who was taxed on land (13 Elizabeth No. E 179/171/284).

1580/1 Phus Rosseter in terris £4 paid 10 s. 8 d. Of 19 taxable inhabitants, Philip was the only one taxed on land. (23 Elizabeth No. E 179/256/2 photocopy of document retained.)

Known or probable children by his first marriage:

4.i. NICHOLAS, b. ca. 1539, eldest son.

ii. (probably) WILLIAM of Combe St. Nicholas and London, grocer. In 1572 he sold a share of the manor of Fairfax to William Guy alias Gysse of Combe St. Nicholas (Elizabeth Crittall, A History of Wiltshire, The Victoria History of the Counties of England [London, 1965], 8:102. Note also Elizabeth Rossiter, widow 8:18). In 20 Elizabeth (1577-8) an indenture was made for a copyhold tenancy at Combe St. Nicholas for the three lives of William Rossiter and daus. Joan and Grace. In 5 James I (1607-8) the above is recorded on the court rolls with information that William was then dead and his daus. were aged 32 and 30, respectively.

iii. (probably) RICHARD, taxed on a small land holding at Combe St. Nicholas 1583. As Richard Roceter he was disclaimed by Heralds from bearing arms in 1591 (Visitation of Somerset, 1885, ed. by Weaver, p. 67).

Children by second marriage, first three named in the “Visitation of Wiltshire”:

iv. PHILIP, b. ca. 1568; d. 5 May 1623, bur. St. Dunstan in the West, London; m. ELIZABETH —–. Philip is probably the noted musician of the name in London. Described as gentleman in his will, he was musician to James I and a stage manager contemporary with William Shakespeare. As Philip Rosseter he published in 1601 A Book of Ayres, set foorth in the Late Orpherion and Basse Violl. In 1609 he published Lessons for Consort, only a part of which has survived. The Lytes of Lyte’s Cary were artistic and musical. A descendant, the Rev. Henry Francis Lyte, composed the hymn “Abide With Me.” In a monograph by Christiaan Vlam, Professor of Music at Cambridge, and Thurston Dart, Philip Rosseter is called one of England’s finest song writers. This monograph, entitled “Rosseters in Holland,” Galpin Society Journal 11:63-9 (Edinburgh, 1958) deals with Philip Rosseter’s gifted descendants in that country. For Philip, see also Dictionary of National Biography, 17:282.

v. JOHN, b. ca. 1570, most probably the John of the manor of Wolmerston, parish of Crewkerne, co. Somerset whose son claimed a Rossiter coat of arms in 1631. His will, dated 8 April 1611, proved 8 Sept. 1611, names son John and Anne wife of John WOOD (P. C. C. 75 Wood, Frederick Brown, Abstracts of Somerset Wills, First Series [n.p., 1887], 15). John, the son, was of Old Cleeve, co. Somerset, in 1631. His claim to the coat of arms: Argent on a chevron gules three pheons or was confirmed by the herald’s annotation in the Visitation of Somerset, 1885, ed. by Weaver, p. 128.

vi. ELIZABETH.

vii. HUGH, named as brother in Philip’s will proved in 1623. Although Hugh is not named in the visitation of Wiltshire, it is to be noted that the mother, Katherine Lyte, had a brother Hugo (Latin form of Hugh).

4. NICHOLAS ROSSITER (Philip, Richard, William?) of Combe St. Nicholas, gentleman, was born circa 1539, for his age as 70 in 1608/9 (5-7 James I) is given in the Combe St. Nicholas manorial survey (Somerset County Record Office, Taunton, Wells Deanery, indentured tenants folio 22, 7 in Latin, copy of record retained). He died 1 April 1608, judging from a Bishop’s Transcript fragment, “Nicholas Rossiter was buried in the first day of April 1608.” He married (circa 1570) (ELIZA)BETH —–. She was buried 26 April 1608 according to the Bishop’s Transcript fragment which called her “wife of Nicholas” (photocopy showing death records retained).

In 1592/3 Nicholas Rossiter was taxed on lands, a tax that was recorded as follows: Nicholas Roscester gen. in terris £4, paying 16 s. (Lay Subsidy, Public Record Office. Hundred of Kingsbury, parish of Combe St. Nicholas Elizabeth 35, No. E 179/256/4). Of the 25 taxables in the record that year, Nicholas was the only one taxed on lands. He was taxed on the same amount the following year and for the last time.

At the meeting of the Manorial Court on 21 April 9 James I (1609), a twenty-man jury declared that Nicholas Rossiter, a free tenant of the lord died in extremis since the last court and his son Edward Rossiter was his next heir (Combe St. Nicholas Manorial Rolls, 9 James I, Somerset County Record Office, Taunton, in Latin, photocopy of record retained).

Known issue:

5.i. EDWARD, b. ca. 1575, eldest son.

5. EDWARD1 ROSSITER (Nicholas, Philip, Richard, William?) of Combe St. Nicholas, co. Somerset, and Dorchester, Mass., gentleman, was born circa 1575. He died at Dorchester 23 October 1630. He is believed to have married —– COMBE, daughter of John Combe of Combe St. Nicholas and sister of Joseph Combe. Edward is referred to as “my brother” in Joseph Combe’s will dated 21 March 1619/20 (cited in Colket, “Edward Rossiter,” The American Genealogist 13 [1937]: 146). The inference in the Gilberts of New England (Geoffrey Gilbert, ed. [Victoria, B.C., 1959], 24) that Joseph’s wife, Winifred, was a Rossiter and sister of Edward has not been substantiated. It is questioned on chronological grounds, and on the fact that no Winifred Rossiter even had rights to land as recorded in the various leases of Combe St. Nicholas.

The first record we have of Edward is in the lay subsidy roll in the Public Record Office, London, of 1597. He was then paying taxes on land that belonged to his father who would not die until 1608. It is inferred that his father in later years was incapable or unwilling to manage the property.

The record reads: Edward Rocetor, gen. in terris £4 pays 16 s. (41 Elizabeth, Hundred of Kingsbury Parish of Combe St. Nicholas. No. E 179/171/321). William Torrey, forebear of the New England family, was taxed on £4 in the subsidies of 1 James I (1603/4)(photocopy of record retained) and 4 James I (1606-1607). In 1611/12 his signature appears on a petition in behalf of Richard and Ursula Stockman, a poor and aged couple of the parish (E. H. Bates, ed., Quarter Sessions Records for the County of Somerset: James I, 1607-1625, Somerset Record Society, 23 [1907]: 73).

His name is listed in the court records for his failure to clear out one of the ditches adjoining his property and he is reprimanded for enclosing a portion of his common land, (manorial court rolls 8 James I [1610/11]). In 1626 he was appointed constable of the parish (in Latin, photocopy of record retained). Edward was last taxed in the Lay Subsidy Roll for 1628/9 (4 Car.; photocopy of record retained).

Edward Rossiter, as eldest son of the eldest son of the eldest son was clearly head of the senior branch of the Rossiters of Combe St. Nicholas. Although there is no extant evidence that he claimed a Rossiter coat of arms, it is apparent that two Rossiters stemming from Combe St. Nicholas of junior lines did. As noted, two descendants of the first Rossiter of Combe St. Nicholas, Richard Rossiter (circa 1562-1629), claimed a coat of arms depicting a pheon (apparently an allusion to the Peion heiress who married a Rossiter). One was John of Old Cleve, co. Somerset, evidently grandson of Philip Rossiter, Sr., and first cousin of Edward. The other, of the family of Acklackby, co. Lincoln, descended from Philip’s brother George, used a slightly variant coat. These coats were confirmed by the College of Arms on the basis of long time use or prescriptive usage, three generations or more (See “The Prescriptive Usage of Arms,” The Ancestor 2 [1902]: 40-47).

Rossiter, with his household, formed part of the group under the Rev. John White that set sail from Plymouth 20 March 1630 on the Mary and John. The passengers settled at Dorchester, Mass. As a stockholder in the Massachusetts Bay Company, Rossiter was entitled to fifty acres of land for each person he brought over (including himself). Mrs. Frances Rose-Troup’s book, John White, the Patriarch of Dorchester (New York, 1930), shows that Rossiter was charged with bringing over thirteen persons. These certainly included himself, sons Nicholas, Bryan and Hugh, the wife of Bryan, daughters Jane and Joan, and if alive, his own wife, and possibly the wife and children of son Nicholas.

Edward’s sudden death on 23 October 1630 was reported by Governor John Winthrop in his Journal. Thomas Dudley, who later succeeded Winthrop as Governor, wrote the Countess of Lincoln: “Within a month after, died Mr. Rossiter, another of the associates, a godly man and of good estate, which still weakened more” (quoted in Colket, “Edward Rossiter,” The American Genealogist, 150). Edward’s death was reported in the Combe St. Nicholas manorial rolls 2 June 1631. “Edrew Rossiter gen. free tenant of the manor, died since last court” (photocopy retained). Nicholas is identified in the rolls as his son four years later when he returns from America.

Known children:

6.i. NICHOLAS2, b. ca. 1599; m. ANNE —–.

ii. DOROTHY, b. ca. 1608; m. at Combe St. Nicholas, 12 Feb. 1629/30 MARTIN GROUT; according to Bishop’s Transcript fragment. No further record.

iii. BRYAN or BRAY, b. ca. 1610, d. at Guilford, Conn. 30 Sept. 1672; m. before coming to America ELIZABETH ALSOP who d. at Guilford, 29 Aug. 1669, dau. of the Rev. John Alsop of Crewkerne, co. Somerset (Henry F. Waters, Genealogical Gleanings in England. [1901. Baltimore, 1969], 1:426, 427). For descendants, see R. D. Smyth, “Dr. Bryan (or Bray) Rossiter of Guilford, Conn., and His Descendants,” Register 55 (1901): 149-154.

iv. JANE, b. ca. 1614; d. at Taunton, Mass., 1 June 1691; m. at Taunton, 23 March 1639/40 THOMAS GILBERT, b. ca. 1612, d. 1676/7, son of John Gilbert of Combe St. Nicholas and Taunton, Mass. (Gilbert, Gilberts of New England, 60).

v. HUGH, b. ca. 1615, identified as son of Edward by John Frye, the elder, in Colket, “Edward Rossiter,” The American Genealogist, 146, bur. at Combe St. Nicholas, 1680; m. by 1641 DOROTHY (COMBE) NORRIS. She was b. 1620, the unborn child in her father’s will of 21 March 1620 (ibid., 145/6), and was bur. at Combe St. Nicholas in 1697. She was the dau. of Joseph and Winifred Combe and widow of the little-known William Norris of Salem, Mass. (according to the alphabetical list of copyhold leases in the manorial court records of Combe St. Nicholas). They would appear to be first cousins, except for the fact that Hugh’s father’s marriage to a Combe may not have been his only marriage. Hugh received a grant of land at Dorchester, Mass. in 1635 (Colket, “Edward Rossiter, The American Genealogist, 147). He returned to Combe St. Nicholas by 1641. Hugh Rossiter (and children) “Mattathias” and Edward his sons are named in a lease of copyhold in the manorial records filed at the Somerset Record Office, Taunton (Wells Deanery Leases and Rentals, file 8548, 25 folios). He is listed as a minor freeholder on the rent roll for 1663 (photocopy of record retained). Children: 1. Matthias, m. at St. Mary Magdalene, Taunton, 14 April 1676 Jane Herring. 2. Edward, b. 1641 or later. 3. Benaiah (i.e., Benajiah) m. at Heavitree, co. Devon, 9 March 1676/7 Dorcas Soper. In 1685 he was living at Cork, Ireland with his family: “Examination of several persons landed out of the ship `Thomas and Anne’ from Cork, at Bristol on the 13th of February, 1685: Benajah Rossiter says that his mother Dorothy Rossiter, widow, is now (as he hopes) living at Combe St. Nicholas in Somerset. He was now going thither where he heard his father left him something; which, as soon as taken care of, he desires to return to Cork where his wife and family are” (Public Record Office, Calendar of State Papers James II, 1:12, 14).

vi. JOANE, b. ca. 1616, “youngest child”; d. at Plymouth Colony, 9 June 1681, aged about 75 (Plymouth Church Records [New York, 1920-1923], 1:271), m. NICHOLAS HART of Taunton 1642 and Portsmouth, R.I., 1651. For descendants, see James M. Hart, Genealogical History of Samuell Hartt from London, England, to Lynn, Mass., 1640 … [and] Nicholas Hart (Pasadena, Calif., 1903).

6. NICHOLAS2 ROSSITER (Edward1, Nicholas, Philip, Richard, William?) of Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset, and for a time Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay Colony, gentleman, the eldest son, was born circa 1599. The evidence for the date is an indentured lease among the manorial court rolls of Combe St. Nicholas of 5 James I (1607-08) in which his age was given at eight years (photocopy of record retained). He died by 8 June 1650, the date of the probate of his will. His wife, Anne, named in his will of 23 May 1643, was also named in the probate. The will was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 98 Pembroke (photocopy of record retained).

Nicholas came to America with his father and remained here for several years. In behalf of his deceased father, he paid the passage money for the thirteen members of the Rossiter household who migrated. Nicholas resided at Dorchester, but returned to Combe St. Nicholas by 16 April 1635 where the court rolls show that he inherited his father’s lands there and became a free tenant of the manor (photocopy of record retained).

His name is recorded twice in 1641. Once was on the Protestation Roll (the virtual census of Englishmen renouncing Catholicism) when he was named among the 187 in the parish. Once was in the subsidy roll when he was described as “Nicholas Rossiter gen.” He was taxed on land valued at £4. This was the last year we have evidence that the Rossiters owned substantial land at Combe St. Nicholas. (The Somerset Protestation Returns and Lay Subsidy Rolls 1641/2, transcribed by A. J. Howard, ed. by T. L. Stoate [Bristol, 1975] 51, 235).

Children, named in 1643 will:

7.i. EDWARD3, b ca. 1628, only son.

ii. ANNE, living 1681.

iii. JANE.

iv. MARY, living 1681.

v. MARTHA, bp. 1639 (according to Combe St. Nicholas, Somersetshire, Bishop’s Transcript fragment in Edward Dwelly, Dwelly’s Parish Registers, 1 [1913]: 309; living 1681.

vi. DOROTHY, living 1681.

7. EDWARD3 ROSSITER (Nicholas2, Edward1, Nicholas, Philip, Richard, William?) of Combe St. Nicholas, and Taunton, co. Somerset, stationer and deacon, was born circa 1628 probably at Combe St. Nicholas, and was living at Taunton, co. Somerset, as late as 1695. He married first, at St. Mary’s Magdalene, Taunton, on 22 August 1656 SARAH POWELL; second, in the same parish, 13 June 1661 JOAN ROCKET (note that Hugh Rossiter and Richard Rocket were granted lands at Dorchester in 1635; Colket,”Edward Rossiter,” The American Genealogist, 144); third, in the same parish, 16 December 1669 ELIZABETH LISSANT; and fourth, at St. James, Taunton, 5 December 1684 ELIZABETH LEG.

Edward’s early life is a mystery. If born by 1630, he certainly accompanied his parents to America. He was obviously heir to a considerable estate. Yet in 1650 when he was perhaps about 25 years of age and when his father’s will was probated his whereabouts were unknown. A translation of the Latin on the will probate reads, “Anne Rossiter [the widow of Nicholas] truly and faithfully accepts [the fact that] Edward Rossiter was dead.” That he did not die is clear from the will of Elizabeth Buckland of West Hamptree, co. Somerset, dated 2 Septemer 1681 and proved 18 February 1683 (11 P.C.C. Hare; Frederick Brown, Abstracts of Somersetshire Wills, 5th series [n.p., 1890], 73). She bequeathed to “my cousin Edward Rossiter, being a kinsman whom my husband loved, £50.” His identity as son of Nicholas is clear from the fact that Elizabeth Buckland also made bequests to four of the five sisters of Edward as named in the will of Nicholas: Anne, Mary, Martha, and Dorothy.

Manorial records of the period of the Commonwealth are incomplete and we do not know the circumstance under which the Rossiter estate passed from the family. We do know from an extant 1663 rent roll that the bulk of the Rossiter lands, on which Nicholas Rossiter paid taxes in 1641, had passed to Henry Bonner, Sr., and Henry Bonner, Jr. Presumably, this had happened before Edward’s marriage at Taunton in 1656.

The Hearth Tax for Taunton Hundred, Taunton Burgess, Fore Street 1664 and 1665 shows Edward Rossiter paying 4s. and 2s. for four hearths (Richard Holworthy, comp., Hearth Tax for Somerset 1664-5 [Fleet, Hants], 1).

In 1673 Edward was one of two portreeves of Taunton (See Court List of the Borough of Taunton where portreeves from 1616-1691 are listed, copy in Castle Library, Taunton).

Edward had apparently come under the influence of two former Taunton ministers, the Rev. George Newton (1602-81) and the Rev. Joseph Alleine, Oxford, B.D. (1634-1668). Both were imprisoned several times for their preaching and both were ejected from the famous Church of St. Mary Magdalene in 1662 (Rev. T. G. Crippin Manuscript, copied from the Tite Collection, Taunton Municipal Public Library). The Rev. Alleine’s works were well known in America. According to the Dictionary of National Biography, “No puritan name save Richard Baxter is so affectionately cherished by the English speaking people as Joseph Alleine.”

Edward Rossiter’s home was among those licensed so that prayers and ministry could be given there. He was a church deacon.

Edward was outspoken in his religious views. On one occasion, on 11 January 1671, his words were brought to the attention of the civil authorities and he was ordered to make amends:

Order that Edward Rossiter of Taunton St. Mary Magdalene, stationer, on some Lord’s day immediately after sermon, do make public acknowledgement in the parish church of the said parish of his offence in speaking scandalous words against Peter, Bishop of Bath and Wells, and do produce at next General Session a certificate by the ministers that he hath done” (Quarter Session Records Charles II, Somerset Record Society 34 [1919]: 191).

Edward’s religious activities were not unknown in Puritan New England. Governor Thomas Hutchinson in The History of Massachusetts Bay (2nd edition, London 1765, p. 17), described both the grandfather and the grandson:

Edward Rossiter [the colonist] was of good family in the west of England. He died the first year [1630]. His son [Nicholas] lived afterwards at Combe [St. Nicholas]. His grandson Edward Rossiter, in the year 1682 was deacon of Rev. Joseph Alleine’s church in Taunton. He says in a letter dated March 28, 1682 that his grandfather, a pious gentleman of good estate, left England for the sake of religion.

The last reference to Edward is in 1695 in the records of St. James Church, Taunton, on a notice of removal from the parish. Scattered references to Rossiters in the 18th century may refer to descendants. The name, we understand, died out at Combe St. Nicholas.

Among issue:

1. NICHOLAS4, bp. 20 July 1655, at St. Mary Magdalene, Taunton. No further record.

Thus, sometime during the period of the Commonwealth, the landed estate of the Rossiter gentlemen at Combe St. Nicholas, their patrimony under primogeniture since before 1529, passed out of their hands forever. Edward, the last in the line of primogeniture at Combe St. Nicholas, became a tradesman, while the circumstances that brought about the loss of the estate remain a mystery.