Rosetta on the Derwent River

My next walk along the Derwent River will start half way through Berriedale and pass by the suburb of Rosetta before moving onto others. I have tried to discover how Rosetta came to be named and, while I learned a little of its history, I am not certain why it was given this name.  However, I believe that our local suburb of Rosetta is indirectly named after an Egyptian town.

I suspect it all started around the time when the internationally known Rosetta Stone was found in 1799 (note: the first European settlement along our Derwent River started in 1803).  The Rosetta Stone was found by French soldiers, (under Napoleon Bonaparte’s command) who were rebuilding a fort in Egypt, in a small village called Rashid (but known as Rosetta by the Europeans).

Wikipedia offers the following information: “Rosetta (Arabic: رشيد‎ Rašīd IPA: [ɾɑˈʃiːd]; French: Rosette) is a port city on the Nile Delta in Egypt, located 65 km east of Alexandria. Both the Arabic name Rašīd (Interesting unrelated sideline is that Ar-Rašīd meaning “The Guide”, is one of the 99 names of Allah) and the western name Rosetta or Rosette (“little rose” in Italian and French respectively) are corruptions of a Coptic (language from the native Christians of Egypt) word, Rashit or Trashit.”  I can pronounce Trashit, Rashid and Rosette/Rosetta so that they sound similar. Can you?

Read http://www.touregypt.net/rashid.htm#ixzz3NvMb6Iyk for more information about the town of Rashid. Apparently the highly green Egyptian town on the Nile River was typically tranquil with vast gardens, orchards and date-palm plantations, in addition to a multitude of beautiful historical houses, inns and mosques adorned with exquisite decorative inscriptions and woodworks. The town was known as the ‘Rose of the Nile’ by Europeans. I guess the name Rosetta was given to our suburb for the underlying European meaning of rose; a thing of beauty.  Hobart’s Rosetta is located on the southern side of Tasmania’s major river in a beautiful setting within the City of Glenorchy as part of the Greater Hobart Area.  However it is neither a city nor a port.

In 1807 as part of the Alexandria/Fraser expedition to Rosetta in Egypt, British forces led one group of local inhabitants in a civil war against another group led by a local leader.  Britain’s intention was to break the Ottoman-French alliance. As a result, in the first decade of the 1800s, I suggest that Egypt would have been highly visible in English news and the battles would have been known in the colonies.

Irene Schaffer, a Rosetta resident and local researcher offers historical information about the original settlement at http://www.tasfamily.net.au/~schafferi/index.php?file=kop79.php. John Berrisford and wife arrived in Australia from England on the First Fleet in 1788. Then, in 1808 John and his family sailed to Hobart Town. In subsequent years, they settled along the Derwent River in the area now known as Berriedale Bay and which extended to the south-east past Rosetta High School, and they built Rosetta Cottage (later renamed Undine Inn). 140 acres of land, now part of our suburb of Rosetta, was granted by NSW’s Governor King to John Berrisford in 1813.

My last walk along the Derwent River finished at MONA a little to the north of Rosetta. My next walk will start by passing Berriedale Bay. I look forward to seeing the old house – albeit with extensions and renovations since John Berrisford was alive. A photograph of this property, now known as the Rosetta Colonial Accommodation, can be seen at http://firstfleetfellowship.org.au/stories/john-hannah-beresford/. This website also provides more detail about the Berrisford family and their history.

Perhaps, through news from England, John Berrisford heard that Rosetta was the ‘Rose of the Nile’ and, in believing the British intrusion into Egypt was glorious, named his house as a show of support.

As a contrast from the historical background, I have located a contemporary profile for Rosetta. The population is 2567, the median household weekly income is $1050, the median age of residents is 45 years, the average household size is 2.4, almost 60% are married or in a de facto relationship, almost 40% are either under 5 years of age or over 64 years of age, weekly rent is $340, and the median house price is $319,455.

2 thoughts on “Rosetta on the Derwent River

  1. Kathleen Felton

    To whom it may concern,

    I was advised today that there is a suburb of Rosetta in Hobart! This is fascinating as 2 of my family, Charles Henry Rosetta and Henry Charles Rosetta were both transported to Tasmania in the 1820s and 1830s respectively. Charles lived out his life in Tasmania, while Henry (my grandfather) became a prominent citizen of Brisbane.
    Who knows, there may be a link with one (or both) of these convicts.

    Kathleen

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    1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

      Now you can set yourself a research task to find out more. I always feel there is more than one reason for things being named as they are. Perhaps your family members have a much stronger connection to our Greater Hobart Area suburb than we know. As you find out more please let me know.

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