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


The ancient family name Roclyff 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.

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

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.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Roclyff research. Another 173 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 149 and 1497 are included under the topic Early Roclyff History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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

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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.

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  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)

Other References

  1. Black, George F. The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3).
  2. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  3. Catholic Directory For Scotland. Glasgow: Burns Publications. Print.
  4. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  5. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  6. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  7. Moody David. Scottish Family History. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0806312688).
  8. 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).
  9. Skene, William Forbes Edition. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots and Other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867. Print.
  10. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
  11. ...

The Roclyff Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Roclyff 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 5 November 2015 at 10:20.

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