George Rossi (1795 - 1865) was born on 20 Jun 1795 in Trezzone, Como, Lombardy as Giacinto Rossi.
On 4 Sep 1821 he married Elizabeth Molton in Spitalfields, London. She was born in St Lawrence, Norwich on 16 November 1801. Her father was Francesco Moltino, a barometer maker, known as Francis Molton and her mother was Frances Stannard.
Giacinto and Elizabeth settled in Norwich and had seven children: Charles (1822 - 1824), Francesco (1823 - 1830), George (1826 - 1883), Carlo (1827 - 1830), Hyacinth (1829 - 1906), Theodore (1831 - 1914) and Maria Francesca (1833 - 1833). In November 1833 Elizabeth died. She was buried on 12 November at St Lawrence, Norwich.
Giacinto remarried with Elizabeth Flood on 12 June 1835 in Yarmouth. They lived in Norwich and had eight children: Rosina Ann (1836 - 1909), Walter John (1838 - ?), Elizabeth Mary (1839 - 1917), Ellen (1841 - 1919), Charles William (1842 - 1889), Edward (1844 - 1845), Isabella (1846 - 1918) and Emily Alberta (1848 - 1849). Elizabeth Flood's children were all baptised at St Peter Mancroft, whereas the children of Giacinto's first marriage had a Catholic baptism.
In 1822 George Rossi worked as a looking glass maker at St Lawrence, Norwich, but by 1824 he had moved to St John Maddermarket parish. In 1830 he worked from 14 Exchange Street and was an optician and a looking glass maker. In 1836 he was an optician, a barometer and thermometer manufacturer, a silversmith and a jeweller, still based at 14 Exchange Street. By 1839 he had moved to the Market Place and worked as an optician, a silversmith and a jeweller. From 1842 he was also a picture dealer.
Giacinto - George - Rossi became a naturalized British subject on 5 June 1847. His referees were all from London:
- Thomas Sinclair, 20 Old Street, St Lukes, chandelier manufacturer
- Edward William Radcliffe, 237 High Holborn, carver and gilder
- Stephen Bigmore, 22 Museum Street, Bloomsbury, plumber and glazier
- Henry Cross Green, 94 Hatton Garden, wholesale jeweller
By 1851 he lived in Unthank Road, but the business remained on the Market Place.
George Rossi died on 22 November 1865. The business was continued by his son Theodore, who married his cousin Catherine Theresa Ellison, daughter of Thomas Ellison, optician and barometer maker, and Frances Molton.
George Rossi has a Blue Plaque at 9 Guildhall Hill, Norwich, where his shop was located.
His name appears in the following trade directories:
- 1822 Pigot Norfolk, p. 305, looking glass maker, St Lawrence
- 1830 Pigot National, p. 578, optician and looking glass maker, 14 Exchange street
- 1836 White Norfolk, p. 135, 205, 209, optician, barometer & thermometer maker, silversmith & jeweller, 14 Exchange street
- 1839 Pigot National, p. 497, 499, optician, silversmith & jeweller, Market place
- 1842 Blyth Norwich, p. 218, 221, 229, optician, barometer & thermometer maker, picture dealer, silversmith & jeweller, Market place
- 1845 White Norfolk, p. 201, 202, 205, optician, barometer maker, picture dealer, silversmith & jeweller, Market place
- 1846 Nine Counties Post Office Directory, 1272, 1700, watchmaker & jeweller
- 1850 Hunt East Norfolk, p. 74, 76, 81, optician, picture dealer, silversmith & jeweller, Market place, res. Mount pleasant
- 1850 Slater, p. 83, optician, Market place
Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service has three barometers and a clock by George Rossi
- NWHCM : 1927.68.5 : B: 'barometer; rosewood? veneer, right side swan neck pediment broken, hydrometerat top, only brass dial remains, thermometer missing, engraved metal dial inscribed; Rain, Fair in a block letter, Much Rain, Set Fair in a serif letter, Change, Very Dry, Stormy in a Gothic letter; a level in a window at the bottom is inscribed G. Rossi Norwich; a door in the back allows access to the glass tubing, early 19th century'. It was donated it 1927.
- NWHCM : 1977.147 : B: 'barometer, incorporating a humidity gauge, thermometer, clock and level, in rosewood? case with cross banding in other woods, swan neck pediment; inscribed in level, G. Rossi, Norwich warranted; early 19th century'. It was donated in 1977.
- NWHCM : tno 34 : B: 'barometer; satinwood?, darker wood banding round permimeter, swan neck pediment, in upper portion a hydrometer, below this is a thermometer in a raided box with a semi circular top, barometer with engraved metal face, at the base a level inscribed G Rossi Norwich, door at back allows access to glass tubing, hydrometer now fallen out and separate from body of barometer, hand loose from barometer, glass of level cracked, early 19th century'. It is an untraced find.
- NWHCM : 1997.563 : B: 'skeleton clock by G. Rossi of Norwich (1823 - 1864); brass frame; chain-driven fussee drum and mainspring barrel, jewelled English lever movement; scalloped and pierced steel chapter ring, Roman numerals, steel hands; maker/retailer's plate below the dial: engraved (within a ribbon) 'G. ROSSI NORWICH'; the clock is mounted on a veneered pinewood base which has a rebate to take a glass shade which is in a cracked and broken state; brass winding key with pierced decoration and engraved with the number '5' '. It was donated in 1997.
Several specimens of George Rossi's work can be found online:
- A 19th-century three-draw telescope by G.Rossi, Norwich, of lacquered brass with morocco outer covering, signed in engraved cursive script, 41.7cm, (16.4in) extended, 15.7cm, (6.1in) closed
- Lot 17029, sold in Feb 2004 http://www.bathantiquesonline.com/antiques-price-guide/brass-copper/antique-19THCENTURY-THREEDRAW-TELESCOPE-17029.html
- A mid 19th century skeleton clock. G.Rossi, Norwich. The pierced frame surmounted by a bell, standing on knurled brass feet to the polished slate base, the twin chain-fusee movement six-spoked wheelwork, anchor escapement, rack-striking and signed silvered Roman chapter ring with blued-steel spade hands 45.5cm (18in) high (inclusive of dome).
- Bonhams, Sale 15775, Lot 377, Clocks, Watches & Barometers, 4 March 2008, Knightsbridge
- A Victorian brass striking skeleton clock, G. Rossi Norwich, the twin chain fusee movement with plates of scrolling outline having double-screwed baluster-shaped pillars, anchor escapement and rack strike on bell above, the silvered crennellated Roman dial signed G. Rossi Norwich with pierced blued hands, black velvet-lined ebonised oval base; glass dome; 14¾in. (36cm.) high (over dome)
- Christie's, Sale 5369, Lot 59, Clocks & Watches, 5 April 1995, London, King Street
- A fine Regency mahogany clock barometer, the satinwood cross-banded case of typical shaped outline with engraved bone finial to the swan-neck pediment above the hygrometer dial, detachable mercurial thermometer below, the cream painted Roman clock dial with blued moon hands, the four pillar single gut fusee movement with original anchor escapement, silvered barometer dial below engraved with the weather variants, the centre engraved with foliage with figures and a musical trophy, the spirit level below signed on the silvered plaque G.Rossi Norwich; 51in. (130cm.) high
- Christie's, Sale 5004, Lot 223, Clocks & Watches, 30 June 1993, London, King Street
- An early 19th century mahogany and boxwood strung wheel barometer, the dial signed G. Rossi Norwich, with thermometer to the trunk, inlaid with shell patera below a broken arched pediment -- 38in. (96.5cm) high.
- Christie's, Sale 6115, Lot 91, Clocks, Barometers & Watches, 13 May 1993, London, South Kensington
- A Victorian mahogany and line inlaid wheel barometer, circa 1840, with swan neck pediment, hygrometer above mercury thermometer, central convex mirror, 10in. silvered dial, the hygrometer below signed G. Rossi/Exhange St./Norwich -- 42¼in. (107cm.) high
- Christie's, Sale 9772, Lot 500, Clocks & Barometers, 17 December 2003, London, Kensington
- A Victorian mahogany wheel barometer by GEORGE ROSSI, NORWICH. MID 19TH CENTURY; The engraved and silvered 8in. dial above silvered level signed G.Rossi/NORWICH; mercury removed;39in. (99cm.) high
- Christie's, Sale 5158, Lot 792, Clocks & Barometers, 12 December 2007, London, South Kensington
- A Victorian mahogany wheel barometer, George Rossi, Norwich. Mid 19th Century
- Christie's, Sale 5349, Lot 493, Christie's Interiors, 18 March 2008, London, South Kensington
- A regency mahogany bow-fronted stick barometer, first quarter 19th century, with ebony-banded trunk and ebonised urn-shaped cistern cover flanked by canted angles, the silvered dial with mercury thermometer and signed Rossi Norwich -- 38in. (96.5cm.) high
- Christie's, Sale 8980, Lot 136, Clocks & Barometers, 14 December 2000, London, South Kensington
- A Victorian mahogany stick barometer, the mercury filled tube with engraved ivory dial with twin adjustable guages, the case with label G. Rossi, Norwich Standard, above a bow fronted barometer case, the ebony reservoir case with turned ivory adjuster, 41". Duke's Auctions, Lot 585, 8 Jul 2004
- For Rossi's family tree (Rossi Giacinto (George) of Norwich) and his marriage and death records, see http://www.ancestry.co.uk
- The trade directories can be consulted on http://www.noah.norfolk.gov.uk
- Go to http://www.culturalmodes.norfolk.gov.uk for the Online Collections Catalogue of the Norfolk Museums and Archeology Service.
- For the Naturalization Papers, see http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATID=-2198871&CATLN=7&Highlight=%2CNATURALISATION%2CROSSI&accessmethod=0&j=1
- They give Giacinto Rossi's date and place of birth and the names of the referees.