European Origins of the American Gossetts

© 2020 by Jeffrey Lynn Gossett and James Michael Gossett

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  • There is an often-repeated story that American Gossetts descend from two brothers who immigrated from Jersey Isle ca. 1730 and 1760, respectively.  When critically examined, this story appears to have a single origin:  a genealogical study in the early 1900s. Its conclusions were based upon the absence of evidence for the continued presence on Jersey of two brothers (Jean and Pierre) past 1730/1760, and the concurrent appearance in PA of two Gossetts (John and Peter) whose origins presented a similar mystery to the genealogical researchers.
  • Recent genealogical research has found a John Gossett (an indentured servant) living in Lancaster Co., VA in 1703/04, and a John Gossett with wife, Jane Williamson, living in New Castle Co., DE (then part of PA) in 1709 – when the supposed immigrants from Jersey-Isle were still in early childhood.
  • Recent genealogical research from Jersey Isle and the UK has uncovered evidence that strongly suggests neither Jersey-Isle brother ever immigrated to America.  Both appear to have died before their supposed dates of arrival in America.
  • Many of our Gossett YDNA Project participants can reliably trace their ancestry to John and Jane of New Castle County.    The significance of this?    Since the YDNA evidence shows all Group-I Gossetts share a most recent common ancestor within the past 300 to 400 years, then if some of us can reliably trace our ancestry to New Castle County, this strongly suggests that all of the Group-I Gossetts can. 
  • Taken as a whole, the  YDNA-based evidence, plus the new genealogical evidence from the USA and Jersey Isle, compel the conclusion that the American Gossetts do not descend from John the Huguenot of Jersey Isle.  Most (the Group-I Gossetts) descend from John Gossett and Jane Williamson who were in New Castle County on the Delaware before 1709.
  • There is much more to discover about our European origins, but YDNA evidence suggests that Group-I Gossetts descend from one immigrant (or a few very closely related immigrants), and genealogical research suggests that the immigration occurred just before 1700 with the arrival of John Gossett, who likely paid for his passage through indenture.   While his departure point was likely England, his ancestral origins are probably French-Huguenot.


A tradition exists that the majority of Gossetts in America descend from two brothers -- John (Jean) and Peter (Pierre) Gosset -- who emigrated from the Isle of Jersey to America ca. 1735  and 1760, respectively.  This tradition, which has become the prevalent Gossett myth, further claims that the two brothers were grandsons of Jean Gosset, a noble, Norman-French Huguenot who fled France in 1685 at the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, when his title and lands in Normandy were confiscated by the Catholic monarchy.

Recent evidence, however -- from both traditional genealogical research and from YDNA analyses -- casts strong doubt that Jean the Huguenot is our common patriarch.  The story of our supposed noble Norman origins, and the emigration of two Gosset brothers from Jersey Isle, has been repeated so many times in so many places that questioning it raises immediate objections from some quarters.    Objections generally are expressed as follows:

"The Jersey-Isle heritage of Gossetts in America has appeared in Burke's The Landed Gentry, including American Families with British Ancestry;  in Virkus'  Abridged Compendium of American Genealogy;  in Newcomer's The Family of Gossett; in Turk's The Quiet Adventurers in America – Channel Island Settlers in the American Colonies and in the United States; in Jerkins' Chronicles of the Gossett Family; and was the basis for the successful application of Thomas Henry Gossett to secure membership in the Society of Sons of the American Revolution.  How can it not be true??"   

First, it should be noted that repeating a story many times does not, in-and-of-itself, make the story true.   The fact is, all of those numerous, apparent sources have a single origin;  and when one subjects the story to close scrutiny -- especially in light of new data -- the story simply does not appear to be true. 


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