Show ContentsRochester History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The present generation of the Rochester family is only the most recent to bear a name that dates back to the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. Their name comes from having lived in the region of Rochester in Kent. Rochester is a topographic surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties.

Early Origins of the Rochester family

The surname Rochester was first found in Kent where the name was first recorded by Bede (c. 730) under the names of Dorubrevi and Hrofoecoestre. The first reference refers to the Briton name that was derived from "duro" meaning "fortress" or "bridge" while the second reference is derived from the Old English word for "roof" [1].

Solomon de Rochester (died 1294) was an English "judge, was a native of Rochester, whence he took his name. His brother Gilbert held the living of Tong in Kent. Solomon took orders, and was apparently employed by Henry III in a legal capacity. In 1274 he was appointed justice in eyre for Middlesex, and in the following year for Worcestershire." [2]

Today Rochester is a town in Kent which dates back to before 43 AD, named Durobrivae by the Romans. Rochester Castle stands on grounds that have been fortified since the Roman arrival. The Norman keep that was built in 1127 still stands majestically today. Rochester is also a small village in Northumberland and Staffordshire. "This parish, anciently called Rocetter, or Roucestre, comprises about 2370 acres." [3]

Early History of the Rochester family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Rochester research. Another 80 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1557, 1494 and 1557 are included under the topic Early Rochester History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Rochester Spelling Variations

Until the dictionary, an invention of only the last few hundred years, the English language lacked any comprehensive system of spelling rules. Consequently, spelling variations in names are frequently found in early Anglo-Saxon and later Anglo-Norman documents. One person's name was often spelled several different ways over a lifetime. The recorded variations of Rochester include Rochester, Roccester, Wrocester, Wrochester and others.

Early Notables of the Rochester family (pre 1700)

Notables of this surname at this time include: Sir Robert Rochester (c. 1494-1557), English comptroller of the household to Queen Mary, eldest of the three sons of John Rochester, by his wife...
Another 31 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Rochester Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Rochester Ranking

In the United States, the name Rochester is the 6,340th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [4]

United States Rochester migration to the United States +

Thousands of English families boarded ships sailing to the New World in the hope of escaping the unrest found in England at this time. Although the search for opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad took the lives of many because of the cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels, the opportunity perceived in the growing colonies of North America beckoned. Many of the settlers who survived the journey went on to make important contributions to the transplanted cultures of their adopted countries. The Rochester were among these contributors, for they have been located in early North American records:

Rochester Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Rochester, who settled in Virginia in 1638
  • Jon Rochester, who arrived in Virginia in 1638 [5]
  • Richard Rochester, who landed in Maryland in 1673 [5]
  • Elizabeth Rochester, who settled in Maryland in 1677
Rochester Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • William Rochester, who landed in Virginia in 1703 [5]
Rochester Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • W B Rochester, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [5]

New Zealand Rochester migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Rochester Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Rochester, aged 26, a coach builder, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Hurunui" in 1877

Contemporary Notables of the name Rochester (post 1700) +

  • Paul "Rocky" Rochester (1938-2020), American football defensive tackle who played from 1960 to 1969
  • Nathan Rochester (1919-2001), American MIT graduate who designed the IBM 701 and wrote the first assembler
  • Nathaniel Rochester (1752-1831), American Revolutionary War soldier, founder of Rochester, New York
  • William Beatty Rochester (1789-1838), American Democratic Party politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Allegany and Steuben counties, 1816-18; U.S. Representative from New York, 1821-23 (20th District 1821-23, 28th District 1823);
  • Thomas H. Rochester, American politician, Mayor of Rochester, New York, 1839
  • Sterling Rochester, American politician, Candidate for Pennsylvania State Senate 3rd District, 1932
  • Robert Rochester, American politician, Postmaster at Hagerstown, Maryland, 1793-1803
  • Nathaniel Rochester, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Monroe County, 1821-22
  • Nathaniel Rochester, American politician, Postmaster at Hagerstown, Maryland, 1792-93; Presidential Elector for Maryland, 1808
  • George Rochester (1908-2001), English Professor of Physics at Durham University

Hillcrest Coal Mine
  • Mr. William Nixon Rochester (1886-1914), English Miner from Ryton, Durham, England, United Kingdom who worked in the Hillcrest Coal Mine, Alberta, Canada and died in the mine collapse [6]
  • Mr. Joseph Harrison Rochester (1895-1914), English Timber Packer from Ryton, Durham, England, United Kingdom who worked in the Hillcrest Coal Mine, Alberta, Canada and died in the mine collapse [6]

  1. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges, A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8)
  2. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  5. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. List Of Miners - Hillcrest Mine Disaster Data. (Retrieved 2014, June 24) . Retrieved from on Facebook