Roakfork History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Anglo-Norman Conquest of Ireland lead by Strongbow introduced the first non-Gaelic elements into Irish nomenclature. These Anglo-Normans brought some traditions to Ireland that were not readily found within Gaelic system of hereditary surnames. One of the best examples of this is the local surname. Local surnames, such as Roakfork, were taken from the name of a place or a geographical feature where the person lived, held land, or was born. These surnames were very common in England, but were almost non-existent within Ireland previous to the Conquest. The earliest surnames of this type came from Normandy, but as the Normans moved, they often created names in reference to where they actually resided. Therefore, some settlers eventually took names from Irish places. Originally, these place names were prefixed by de, which means from in French. This type of prefix was eventually either made a part of the surname, if the place name began with a vowel, or was eliminated entirely. The Roakfork family originally lived in either of the settlements called Rochford in the English counties of Essex and Worcestershire. In fact, the family gave its name to Stoke Rochford in Lincolnshire and held other lands in Warwickshire, Hertfordshire and Yorkshire. [1]

The Rochfords of County Cork were originally surnamed de Ridlesford. Their name became Rochford or Rockford through a mistranslation of the Gaelic form of the name. [2]

Early Origins of the Roakfork family

The surname Roakfork was first found in counties Meath and Kilkenny (Irish: Cill Chainnigh), the former Kingdom of Osraige (Ossory), located in Southeastern Ireland in the province of Leinster, where they had been granted lands by Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, during the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in 1172. [2]

"The Irish family settled in that country at, or soon after, the Anglo-Norman invasion. Their name was Latinized De Rupe Forti, 'of the strong rock,' which is doubtless its true meaning." [3]

Another source provides more details: "the family, descended from the Norman Rochford, styled in old deeds and writings, De Rupe forti, was established in Ireland at the time of, or soon after, the first invasion of the English, for so early as 27th Henry III., we find Sir Richard de Rochfort, and John de Rochfort, Lords of Crom and Adare. In 1302, Sir Maurice Rochfort was Lord Justice of Ireland." [4]

The reader should note that while the lion's share of the family claim Ireland as their original homeland, some stayed in England. By example, the Feet of Fines for Northumberland include a listing for Waleram de Rocheforde in 1198. [5]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 include: Guido de Rocheford, London; and Eustace de Rocheford, Essex. [6]

"King Henry Henry II gave the manor of Rochford's Hall, with the estate, to a family hence surnamed De Rochford, descended from Pagan, second son of Eustace Fitz John. Pagan was Lord of Ewyas in 1136. His son was Guy de Rochford." [1]

Early History of the Roakfork family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Roakfork research. Another 95 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1224, 1194, 1652, 1727, 1690 and 1652 are included under the topic Early Roakfork History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Roakfork Spelling Variations

Medieval scribes and church officials spelled the names as they sounded, so a name was often spelled many different ways during the lifetime of a single person. The investigation of the origin of the name Roakfork revealed many spelling variations including Rockford, Rockfort, Rochfort, Rochefort, Roakfort, Roakford, Rochford, Rocheford, Roachford, Roachfort, Rockfurd, Rockfurt, Ruckford, Ruckfort, Rucford and many more.

Early Notables of the Roakfork family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family up to this time was Simon Rochfort (died 1224), English bishop of Meath, appointed by Pope Innocent III. He was the first Englishman who held that see, to which he was consecrated in 1194. He was one of the judges appointed by Innocent III in the famous suit for possession of the body of Hugh de Lacy...
Another 61 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Roakfork Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Roakfork family

Ireland experienced a dramatic decrease in its population during the 19th century. This was in a great measure, a response to England's imperialistic policies. Hunger and disease took the lives of many Irish people and many more chose to leave their homeland to escape the horrific conditions. North America with its promise of work, freedom, and land was an extremely popular destination for Irish families. For those families that survived the journey, all three of these things were often attained through much hard work and perseverance. Research into early immigration and passenger lists revealed many immigrants bearing the name Roakfork: Denis Rochford, his wife Mary and two children, who settled in Pennsylvania in 1682; and Peter Rockford, who settled in Philadelphia in 1875.



The Roakfork Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Candor dat viribus alas
Motto Translation: Truth gives wings to strength.


  1. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 3 of 3
  2. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, The Surnames of Ireland. Ireland: Irish Academic Press, sixth edition, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2366-3)
  3. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. ^ Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  5. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)


Houseofnames.com on Facebook