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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


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.

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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]. 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." [2]

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.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Rochester research. Another 159 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 155 and 1557 are included under the topic Early Rochester History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Rochester Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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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 settled in Virginia in 1638
  • Jon Rochester, who arrived in Virginia in 1638
  • Richard Rochester, who landed in Maryland in 1673
  • Elizabeth Rochester settled in Maryland in 1677

Rochester Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Wm Rochester, who landed in Virginia in 1703

Rochester Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • W B Rochester, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851

Rochester Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


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

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  • 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
  • Paul Rochester (b. 1938), American football player
  • 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 on June 19 1914
  • 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 on June 19 1914
  • John Wilmot Rochester (1647-1680), English courtier
  • George Rochester (1908-2001), English Professor of Physics at Durham University


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  1. ^ Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges, A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8)
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  2. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  3. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  4. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  5. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  6. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  7. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  8. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  9. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  10. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
  11. ...

The Rochester Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Rochester Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 20 August 2015 at 15:53.

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