European Origins of the American Gossetts

New Evidence from Conventional Genealogical Research

1.  Evidence of Gossetts in America before Jean or Pierre could have arrived

There is solid legal evidence for the presence of  "John Gossett" in Virginia (1703/4) and New Castle County, DE (1709) when the two Jersey Gosset brothers, Jean and Pierre, were still in their pre-teens.


John Gossett of Lancaster County, VA

In 1703/4 in Lancaster Co., VA, John Gossett, an indentured servant, petitioned the court because his master, Thomas Martin, refused to give him his freedom and the things owed him. The judge granted Gossett’s request.

Lancaster County, Virginia

Order Book No. 5 (1702-1713)

Page 65 – Lancaster County Court 9th of February 1703/4

Gossett v Martin

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"John Gossett presented a petition to this Court Complaining that Mr. Thomas Martin refused to give him his freedom and aforesaid duly produced in Court his Indenture, And it appearing to ye Court upon probable Circumstance that he ought be free it is therefore ordered that John Gossett be from hence forth free from his Master and his Master pay him his Corn clothes and other benefits and dues according to Law with costs."

Note:  In 1705, the Virginia assembly required masters to provide white servants at the end of their indentureship with corn, money, a gun, clothing, and 50 acres of land [World: The Journal of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Vol. XII No: 4 (July/August 1998), pp. 14 –20)].  One-half to two-thirds of all immigrants to Colonial America arrived as indentured servants – often resulting from the necessity to pay for their passage. At times, as many as 75% of the population of some colonies were under terms of indenture [nai cilh]  []  [].

What might have been John's date of birth?   According to the references cited in the previous paragraph, periods of indenture varied, but were typically between four and seven years (with skilled craftsmen at the shorter end;  and unskilled field-workers at the longer end). Most men would have been in their late teens or early twenties at the time they entered into a contract of indenture.  A reasonable guess would be that John was born ca. 1678 ± 5 years (i.e., if we assume a 6-year indenture commencing at 20 years of age, meaning that he was 26 years of age in 1704 when he successfully sued for his freedom). 

In 1705, apparently this same John Gossett was involved in another court case in Lancaster County, which was dismissed due to John's failure to appear:

Lancaster County, Virginia

Order Book No. 5 (1702-1713)

Page 141 – Lancaster County Court 14th of December 1705

Gossett v Brittan (but seeminly spelle "Brittain" in the entry itself)

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"The action brought to this Court by John Gossett ag John Brittain is dismist, not appearing."

Beyond this mention, no trace of him is found in deed books, will books, record books containing both deeds and wills, and court books.  It does not appear that John Gossett remained in Lancaster County, Virginia – though there are undoubtedly missing records.  Perhaps he did not appear in court in 1705 because he had already moved from the area.  We do not know.


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