Rockliff History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient family name Rockliff derives its name from Rockcliff(e), a village and civil parish in the City of Carlisle district of Cumbria (Cumberland.) Rockcliffe Castle is a township, in the parish of Rockcliff, union of Carlisle, ward and E. division of Cumberland, 5 miles from Carlisle. "Some remains are still visible of a small castle built by the lords Dacre, which was garrisoned by Leonard Dacre, when in rebellion against Elizabeth, in 1570, and was taken by Lord Hunsdon for the queen." [1] The local literally means "red cliff or bank," from the Viking word "rauthr" + the Old English word "clif." [2] The local was first recorded as Rodcliua in 1185.

Early Origins of the Rockliff family

The surname Rockliff was first found in Cumberland, where they held a family seat on the English/Scottish border. After the Norman Conquest of England many of Duke William's rebellious Barons moved north. The border became a convenient but turbulent no-man's land where the persecuted Many were given land by King Malcolm Canmore and later by King David of Scotland. Some were native Scots. In the 16th century they became known as the 'unruly clans'. The name was first recorded in England less than ten miles south of the border, about four miles from Carlisle where Elsi de Routecliua (1170) and John de Rouclief (1332) was recorded soon after the Norman Conquest.

Early History of the Rockliff family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Rockliff research. Another 87 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 149 and 1497 are included under the topic Early Rockliff History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Rockliff Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Rockcliffe, Rockliff, Rockliffe, Rowcliffe, Roclyff and many more.

Early Notables of the Rockliff family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Rockliff Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Rockliff family

Some of the first settlers of this family name or some of its variants were: James Rowcliffe, who arrived in Ontario in 1871; Edwin Rowcliffe, who came to Ontario in 1871; Robert Rowcliffe, who came to Quebec sometime between 1880 and 1980.


Contemporary Notables of the name Rockliff (post 1700) +

  • Jeremy Page Rockliff (b. 1970), Australian politician, Deputy Premier of Tasmania (2014-)
  • Thomas "Tom" Rockliff (b. 1990), Australian rules footballer


  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)


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