Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Rosseter, Philip

ROSSETER, PHILIP (1575?–1623), lutenist and stage-manager, was born about 1575. In 1601 he published ‘A Booke of Ayres, set foorth to the Lute, Orpherian, and Basse Violl,’ containing twenty-one songs by Dr. Thomas Campion [q. v.], and twenty-one by Rosseter. The songs were provided with accompaniments in lute tablature, in which, as well as in the preludes, simplicity was aimed at, Rosseter observing that ‘a naked ayre without guide, or prop, or colour but his owne is easily censured of every eare, and requires so much the more invention to make it please.’ On 8 Nov. 1604 a warrant was issued to pay Philip Rosseter, one of the king's musicians for the lutes, 20l. per annum for wages, and 16l. 2s. 6d. for apparel (Cal. of State Papers, Dom. James I). In 1609 he brought out ‘Lessons for Consort, made by sundry excellent authors, and set to … the treble lute, treble violl, base violl, bandora, citterne, and flute’ (Grove).

After 1609 Rosseter seems to have occupied himself with court theatricals. On 4 Jan. 1609–10 a patent was granted to him, Philip Kingman, Robert Jones (fl. 1616) [q. v.], and Ralph Reeve, ‘to provide, keepe, and bring up a convenient number of children, and them to practise and exercise in the quality of playing, by the name of Children of the Revels to the Queene, within the Whitefryars in the suburb of our cittie of London, or in any other convenient place. …’ The partners made a house in Whitefriars, which Rosseter held by lease, their headquarters for the training of the children. It may have been identical with Rosseter's own dwelling-house, which was described as ‘in Fleete Street neere the Greyhound’ (Booke of Ayres).

In 1612 and 1613, the period when Rosseter's company was joined by the Lady Elizabeth's company, the performance is recorded of three unnamed plays produced before the Prince Palatine by children under Rosseter's direction. For each performance he was granted about 6l. Their repertory included ‘Cupid's Reuing,’ Jonson's ‘Epicœne,’ Field's ‘Woman is a Weathercock,’ Mason's ‘Turk,’ Sharpham's ‘Fleire,’ and Chapman's ‘Widow's Tears’ (cf. Langbaine, Dramatick Poets, p. 65, with Oldys's manuscript notes in Brit. Mus.)

The same four patentees were, on 31 May 1615, granted a renewal of their appointments, but the lease of Rosseter's house having expired, they obtained permission, under the privy seal, to erect a new playhouse at their own charges, to be at the use of the children, the prince's players, and the Lady Elizabeth's players. The opposition of the corporation of London ruined the scheme, and late in 1615, when the building was almost completed, the king ordered its demolition (Collier, i. 381 et seq.).

Rosseter is said by Collier to have joined once more the Lady Elizabeth's players, but he took no prominent part in later theatrical enterprise. Campion remained his friend, and on his deathbed, 1 March 1619–20, bequeathed ‘all that he had unto Mr. Philip Rosseter, and wished that his estate had bin farr more.’

Rosseter died on 5 May 1623, as stated in a nuncupative will proved by his widow on 21 May. His brother Hugh, and his sons, Philip and Dudley, survived him. Rosseter was buried, ‘out of Fetter Lane,’ on 7 May at St. Dunstan's in the West.

[Grove's Dict iii. 162; Collier's Hist. of Dramatic Poetry, i. passim; Shakespeare Society's Revels at Court, p. xliii; Halliwell-Phillips's Outlines, i. 311; Collect. Top. et Gen. v. 378; Registers of St. Dunstan in the West; P. C. C Registers of Wills, Swan, f. 41 (quoted by Mr. Goodwin in the Academy, xliii. 199); Rosseter's Works; authorities cited.]

L. M. M.