James William Gosset

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James William Gosset

James William Gosset 1818-1888 Major General

Ancestors and cousins

James William Gosset was the second but eldest surviving son (after an older brother also named James) of the second marriage of Isaac Gosset to Margaret Hammond, daughter of James Lempriere Hammond and Rachel Le Vavasseur-dit-Durell. James was born at Saint Saviour on 30 December 1818.

His father Isaac was Clerk of Cheque, Ordnance Department. He was born about 1774 and died 18 February 1854. He first married Magdalen Robin, daughter of Philip Robin and Anne Pipon of Noirmont. Magdalen died in about 1815.

James was a first cousin of Rear Admiral Henry Gosset and his father’s half brother William was a Major General in the Royal Engineers. Isaac and Sir William's nephew William Driscoll Gosset, also became a Major General in the Royal Engineers and assorted descendants of Sir William were RE officers.

James was, therefore, marked for a military career from an early age. A letter dated 21 December 1830 (when James was not quite twelve) among family possessions which went to auction, advised that he had been placed on the list of candidates for admission to the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich (where Royal Engineers were trained). A Gentleman Cadet parchment was dated 8 February 1833, when he was 14.


James William Gosset's promotions were as follows:

  • Ensign, 16 Jun 1838
  • Lieutenant , 7 Sep 1840
  • Second Captain, 1 Mar 1847
  • Captain, 1 April 1854
  • Major. 26 Oct 1858
  • Lieut-Colonel and Colonel, not known
  • Major General, July 1867

He saw service in, among other places, India, Mauritius and Ireland. In August 1852 the family were back in Jersey and they retired to the island shortly after his promotion to Major General. They are listed there in the 1871 census.


On 16 September 1844 Gosset married Maria Asia Hull Woodriff, the daughter of Lieutenant John Robert Woodriff RN, of Preston, near Weymouth, and grand-daughter of Commissioner Woodriff, RN.

They seven children whose birthplaces give an indication of where Gosset’s military service took him and his family: Maria Margaret Gosset (b 1846, Mauritius); Gertrude Gosset (b 1849, Mauritius); James Woodriff Gosset (b 1851, Mauritius); Mary Asia Gosset (b 1852, St Helier, Jersey); William Montgomery Gosset (b 1854, Clonmel, Ireland); Arthur Charleton Gosset (b 1856, Kilkenny, Ireland); Alfred Hobson Gosset (b 1857, Kilkenny, Ireland)


The family did not remain in Jersey long after Major General Gosset’s retirement. Shortly after the 1871 census they emigrated to New Zealand. The first to go was the eldest son, James Woodriff Gosset. At the age of 18 he travelled on the ship Ballarat, which left London on 1 May 1869 and arrived in Auckland on 9 August.

His father arrived, with his wife, three daughters and two sons, on 2 February 1872 on the Caduceus on 2 February 1872, accompanied by three daughters and two sons.

It is not known when the remaining member of the family, William Montgomery Gosset, arrived, but it was probably some ten years later because he died in 1930, having been resident in New Zealand for 39 years.

Social life

Upon arrival the Gossets seem to have become involved in the Auckland social scene. Major General and Mrs Gosset are shown as being present at various functions, often accompanied by one or more of their children.

General Gosset, who retained his Army pension, became active in the Freemasons in Auckland, in the Prince of Wales Lodge. His involvement was such that he received a medal engraved with his name and rank.

Gertrude Gosset died at the age of 25 on 28 January 1874 (five days after her birthday) and her mother died four years later on 26 January 1878 . On 8 February Margaret Gosset, nee Hammond, died in Jersey.

In 1883 27-year-old Arthur Charleton Gosset died, followed later that year by his father.

Obituary notice

Major General Gossett, late of the Indian service, died at his residence, St Stephen's Avenue, Parnell, on Monday night. General Gossett arrived in Auckland after the first Katikati special settlement was established, and since then his figure has been one of the best-known in Auckland. His fine physique and military bearing always attracted attention, and his general manner and happy disposition gained for him hosts of friends everywhere. He leaves several sons and daughters, all grown up, to mourn his death, one of his daughters being Mrs Goldie, wife of the curator of the Domain. General Gossett, since his arrival in Auckland, has been an active member of the Masonic fraternity, and held office for several years in the Prince of Wales Lodge.

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