Rockford 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 Rockford, 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 Rockford 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 Rockford family

The surname Rockford 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 Rockford family

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

Rockford Spelling Variations

Names were simply spelled as they sounded by medieval scribes and church officials. Therefore, during the lifetime of a single person, his name was often spelt in many different ways, explaining the many spelling variations encountered while researching the name Rockford. Some of these variations included: Rockford, Rockfort, Rochfort, Rochefort, Roakfort, Roakford, Rochford, Rocheford, Roachford, Roachfort, Rockfurd, Rockfurt, Ruckford, Ruckfort, Rucford and many more.

Early Notables of the Rockford 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 Rockford Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Rockford migration to the United States +

The Irish emigration during the late 18th and 19th century contributed to the melting pot of nationalities in North America, and the building of a whole new era of industry and commerce in what was seen as a rich, new land. Ireland'sGreat Potato Famine resulted in the worst economic and social conditions in the island's history. And in response to the hunger, disease, and poverty, during this decade the total number of emigrants to leave for North America rivaled all the previous years combined. Those from this decade that arrived on North American shores were not warmly welcomed by the established population, but they were vital to the rapid development of the industry, agriculture, and infrastructure of the infant nations of the United States and what would become Canada. Research into early immigration and passenger lists has shown many people bearing the name Rockford:

Rockford Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Rockford, aged 23, who landed in Missouri in 1839 [7]
  • Peter Rockford, who settled in Philadelphia in 1875

Australia Rockford migration to Australia +

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

Rockford Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Bridget Rockford, aged 26, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Sea Park"
  • Mary Rockford, aged 21, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Sea Park"

Contemporary Notables of the name Rockford (post 1700) +


    Empress of Ireland
    • Mr. Michael Rockford, British Fireman from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking [8]


    The Rockford 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. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html


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