Francis Nicholas Rossi : The Ambivalent Position of a French Nobleman in 19th Century New South Wales [article]

Neville Arthur Potter, University, The Australian National, University, The Australian National
2017
This thesis is the first study of the life and career of Francis Nicholas Rossi (1776-1851), a French nobleman born in Brittany and raised in Corsica, who achieved the singular distinction of occupying senior positions in the British Imperial administration of Mauritius and of New South Wales during and after the French Wars (1792-1815). Rossi joined the British Army in Corsica during the British occupation of that island, and fled into exile when the French revolutionary government retook the
more » ... ernment retook the island. Rossi's career is examined in terms of the historical and social contexts of the various theatres in which he served - Corsica, Holland, Gibraltar, Ceylon, Mauritius and New South Wales - using Bourdieusian analysis to examine the influence of these various environments on Rossi, and his reciprocal influence on them. The thesis also draws on the approach developed by Subaltern Studies scholars to analyse the mocking response of the general populace to Rossi's appointment as Superintendent of Police in NSW, as well as the more antagonistic reaction of the liberal press. At the same time, the ambivalence of Rossi's position is shown by his acceptance as a member of the colony's ruling elite, and the praise heaped upon him by successive Governors. Historians and popular writers have privileged the response of the populace over the more accurate portrayal of him by the press, and the thesis examines how both these responses have in more recent times been overtaken by Rossi's representation in modern popular accounts as a trope of the old convict regime. Finally, the thesis places Rossi in the context of other French settlers of noble background in the colony, as well as other Frenchmen (particularly Corsicans) who also rose to international prominence in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars.
doi:10.25911/5d6cfa279eba0 fatcat:su7wf6qw6rbbtchihnh4dzxzam