Where was Rene born?

Ever since the story of how Rene Cossitt came to America was reduced to writing, we were told, and therefore believed, that he was born in France around 1690 and came to America around 1711 on the sailing ship The Neptune.  The facts, as we have now discovered, are that this story may have very little truth to it. 

Starting in 2007, five males with the surname of Cossitt submitted specimens for 37 allele marker y-DNA testing.  In the more than 14 generations (when you count both up and down) only 1 mutation in 185 tests was found.  With these five tested males we knew that the most recent common male ancestor was Rene Cossitt.   

For many years we knew of a group of people in Canada with the surname of Cossette.  The question was whether they were related to our Cossitt family, and if so, how closely related.  Thanks to Yves Cossette and Roger Cossette we have some answers.  Both of these men submitted to the same y-DNA testing and there was an exact match of y-DNA allele between them and the five Cossitt males who were previously tested.  This means that the most recent common ancestor between the two families would most likely be a very close ancestor to our Rene Cossitt. 

In 2010 The Cossitt Family Association employed a bilingual genealogy expert who specialized in the 18th century French regional history to search records in France.  While two scenarios were proposed, when the findings of the French genealogist were augmented with the genealogy history that the Cossette families have maintained, the following appears to be more probable.   

1.                   N. Cosset – No date or place of birth but the following can be gleaned from records in Vendee.              (N Cosset had two sons.)

o  Child of N. Cosset – 2) François Cosset born abt. 1599 in Saint-Etienne des Loges –  Married Jeanne Macouin.

o   Child of N. Cosset – 2) Jacques Cosset born abt. 1607 in Saint-Etienne des Loges – Married Renee Macouin born abt. 1616 same village.

o   Child of Jacques Cosset  and Renee Macouin– 3) Jean Cosset born 1634 or 1642 in Saint-Etienne des Loges?; died in Neuville on November 13, 1687 (at age 53?) –married Marguerite (Loy or Eloy) Héloy dit Auby, (1651 – 1728) on February 12, 1668 in Chateau-Richer Quebec City, Quebec.  From the Census of 1667 we know that Jean Cosset was in New France (Quebec, Canada) in 1667

·         o Child of Jean Cosset  and Marguerite– 4) John (Jean) Cosset born abt. 1670 – died 1687 w/o children

·         o   Child of Jean Cosset and Marguerite 4) Marie Cosset  (1672 – 1705) – married Bransard

      o   Descendants of Marie Cosset are living in Canada with the name of Bransard

·         o   Child of Jean Cosset and Marguerite 4) François Cosset (1674 – 1742)

      o   Descendants of François Cosset are living in Canada with name of Cossette

·         o   Child of Jean Cosset and Marguerite 4) Pierre Cosset born 1678 – died before 1681 census

·         o   Child of Jean Cosset and Marguerite 4) Marguerite Cosset (1681 – after 1725) – married Baribeau

      o   Descendants of Marie Cosset are living in Canada with the name of Baribeau

·         o   Child of Jean Cosset and Marguerite– 4) Alexis Cosset born 1683 – died October 10, 1687

·         o   Child of Jean Cosset and Marguerite 4) René Cosset born October 5, 1686, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

The Cossette families have traced their ancestors back more generations than our Cossitt side and they have records that show Jean Cosset (our Rene’s proposed father) owned land near Donnacona: it is 80 kilometers after Trois-Rivières (3 Rivers) and 40 kilometers before Quebec City. 

For some time, Cossette family historians and genealogists considered that René died at a young age.  Recent discoveries, however, have found that he was still living in the early 1700's.  First, a hiring contract in 1704 as a voyageur then in 1709 when his mother sold his father's property.  When Jean Christopher Cosset died in 1687 his wife, Marguerite, inherited half of his land and his 5 living children the other half.  In 1709, by an order of the Governor of Nouvelle-France, she received the authorization to sell the property because neither she nor any of her children were able to farm it.  At that time René was declared absent with no other explanation.  The new owner did not pay cash for the land.  In many annual receipts that Marguerite received for payment from the new owner, Marguerite accepted her part and the one for her absent child René.

The following is how our Rene may have got on The Neptune and was taken by the British as a prisoner of war:

René Cosset lived at the Bourbon fortress (Fur Trading Post) situated in Upper Canada 1704 to 1709.  His actual career between March 1709 and August 1710, is unclear so we can only speculate how and why he would have been then found in New England?  He could have left the Bourbon fortress in the north for France at the end of the summer of 1710 aboard The Phoenix, a ship bound for the port of La Rochelle with a cargo of furs.

(a) The Phoenix would have made a stop in Tadoussac or Quebec like in Acadie or Newfoundland (Plaisance) before crossing the Atlantic.  Rene Cosset would have found himself in Acadie and thereafter in New England.

(b) If he did sail to France, he would have then embarked on The Neptune in June 1711 for Acadia and Quebec but was intercepted by the English at the beginning of August close to Newfoundland.  He would have refused to return to France and would have been released on his word to establish himself in New England.  He would have fallen in love with Ruth Elisabeth Porter which could explain why he did not want to return to France. 

(c) He could also have left Bourbon fortress the summer of 1710, unloaded in Quebec and continued his career travelling in the west.  He would have been found thereafter in New England trapping and trading furs with the English.

(d) He could also have left Bourbon fortress in 1714 during the evacuation and arrived in England, refused to return to France and then decided to come to New England.  In this case, the history of his arrival starting from France via The Neptune does not seem likely anymore.

We have all been told that our Rene Cossitt taught French to earn a living once he settled in Connecticut.  Initially, Rene could not sign. Consequently, it appears doubtful that Rene Cosset, the ancestor of the Cossitt family in North America earned his living by teaching French before marrying. However if he controlled a little English, he could have taught French without knowing how to write it.  

If this scenario is correct, then Jean Cosset, the father of our Rene Cossitt is the most recent common ancestor of all Cossitt and Cossette families in North America.

Thanks go to Yves Cossette and Roger Cossette for being the first bloodline Cossette males to submit to y-DNA testing. Special thanks also go to Louis Cossette, the president of The Association des Familles Cossette, and Guy Cossette for their help in providing much needed genealogy research and analysis.