Show ContentsRochfort 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 Rochfort, 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 Rochfort 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 Rochfort family

The surname Rochfort 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 Rochfort family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Rochfort research. Another 95 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1224, 1194, 1450, 1522, 1652, 1727, 1690 and 1652 are included under the topic Early Rochfort History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Rochfort Spelling Variations

Church officials and medieval scribes often spelled early surnames as they sounded. This practice often resulted in many spelling variations of even a single name. Early versions of the name Rochfort included: Rockford, Rockfort, Rochfort, Rochefort, Roakfort, Roakford, Rochford, Rocheford, Roachford, Roachfort, Rockfurd, Rockfurt, Ruckford, Ruckfort, Rucford and many more.

Early Notables of the Rochfort 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, fifth Baron Lacy and first lord of Meath. Sir Thomas Rochfort (c.1450-1522) was a distinguished Irish...
Another 76 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Rochfort Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Rochfort migration to the United States +

Ireland went through one of the most devastating periods in its history with the arrival of the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s. Many also lost their lives from typhus, fever and dysentery. And poverty was the general rule as tenant farmers were often evicted because they could not pay the high rents. Emigration to North America gave hundreds of families a chance at a life where work, freedom, and land ownership were all possible. For those who made the long journey, it meant hope and survival. The Irish emigration to British North America and the United States opened up the gates of industry, commerce, education and the arts. Early immigration and passenger lists have shown many Irish people bearing the name Rochfort:

Rochfort Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John Rochfort, who arrived in Virginia in 1705 [7]
Rochfort Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Rochfort, aged 24, who landed in New York in 1812 [7]
  • William Rochfort, who landed in New York, NY in 1817 [7]
  • Thomas E. Rochfort, aged 33, who immigrated to the United States from Liverpool, in 1892
  • Valentine Rochfort, aged 26, who landed in America, in 1894
  • Nora Rochfort, aged 22, who immigrated to America from Kilmore, in 1898
Rochfort Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Emma Rochfort, aged 49, who landed in America, in 1908
  • Matthew Rochfort, aged 20, who landed in America from Cambuslang, Scotland, in 1909
  • Ivy Rochfort, aged 20, who immigrated to the United States from Manchester, England, in 1910
  • Thomas Rochfort, aged 24, who landed in America from Mullagh, Ireland, in 1911
  • Kate Rochfort, aged 19, who immigrated to the United States from Ballaghadereen, Ireland, in 1911
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Rochfort migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Rochfort Settlers in Australia in the 18th Century
  • Miss Ann Rochfort, (Catherine, Rochford), (b. 1781), aged 17, English convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 7 years for shop lifting, transported aboard the "Britannia III" on 18th July 1798, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, she died in 1857 [8]
Rochfort Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Patrick Rochfort, (b. 1791), aged 29, Irish convict who was convicted in Roscommon, Ireland for 7 years for sedition, transported aboard the "Dorothy" on 5th May 1820, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [9]
  • Benjamin Rochfort, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "John Bartlett" in 1847 [10]
  • Ann Rochfort, aged 23, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Europa" [11]
  • Maria Rochfort, aged 21, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Europa" [11]

New Zealand Rochfort 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:

Rochfort Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Rochfort, aged 21, a carpenter, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rodney" in 1875

Contemporary Notables of the name Rochfort (post 1700) +

  • Spencer Rochfort (b. 1966), American-born, Canadian television and film actor
  • Robert Rochfort (1652-1727), Irish Attorney-General, judge and speaker of the Irish House of Commons
  • George Boyd- Rochfort VC (1880-1940), Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • Major-General Charles Rochfort Scott (1790-1872), British Army officer who became Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey
  • Sir Cecil Boyd- Rochfort CVO (1887-1983), British thoroughbred racehorse trainer, British flat racing Champion Trainer five times
  • Major-General Alexander Rochfort KCB CMG (1850-1916), British Army officer who became Lieutenant Governor of Jersey (1910 to 1916)

The Rochfort 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)
  7. 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)
  8. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 30th October 2020). Retrieved from
  9. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 12th July 2021). Retrieved from
  10. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) JOHN BARTLETT 1847. Retrieved from
  11. South Australian Register Monday 14th May 1855. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Europa 1855. Retrieved on Facebook