Rolf History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Rolf is a name of ancient Norman origin, arriving in England with the Norman Conquest of 1066. The surname Rolf derives from the Middle English personal (pre-surname) name Rolf. It is thought that the earliest origins of the name are Nordic, and that the name reached England in both pre-Norman Nordic invasion, and with the Normans.

Early Origins of the Rolf family

The surname Rolf was first found in Norfolk where they held a family seat from early times, soon after the Norman Conquest by Duke William of Normandy in 1066 A.D.

Early History of the Rolf family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Rolf research. Another 148 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1297, 1332, 1585, 1622, 1615, 1680, 1655 and 1676 are included under the topic Early Rolf History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Rolf Spelling Variations

Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Roffe, Rolfe, Rolph, Rolphe, Roalph and others.

Early Notables of the Rolf family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was John Rolfe (c.1585-1622), an early English settler of North America, credited with the first successful cultivation of tobacco in Virginia, perhaps best known as the...
Another 33 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Rolf Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Rolf migration to the United States +

Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Rolf or a variant listed above:

Rolf Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John Rolf, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1775 [1]
  • James Rolf, who arrived in Virginia in 1776 [1]
Rolf Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Anton Rolf, who landed in America in 1834 [1]
  • Gerh Heinr Rolf, who arrived in America in 1836 [1]
  • Bern Heinr Rolf, aged 44, who arrived in America in 1843 [1]
  • Josephine Rolf, who arrived in America in 1843 [1]
  • M Christ Rolf, who landed in America in 1844 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Rolf 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:

Rolf Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • James Rolf, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ballarat" in 1867

Contemporary Notables of the name Rolf (post 1700) +

  • Dr Ida Pauline Rolf (1896-1979), American biochemist and the creator of Structural Integration (Rolfing)
  • Harold Rolf Bamberg (b. 1923), British army Commander, who received the Order of the British Empire, and was later chairman of Bamberg Group Ltd.(1968)
  • Mr. Rolf Alan Mason M.B.E., British Warrant Officer Class 2 for The Royal Regiment of Artillery was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire on 17th June 2017
  • Rolf Hoppe (1930-2018), German film and stage actor
  • Rolf Gerstenberger, German-born, Canadian labour leader, President of United Steelworkers, Local 1005 at the Hamilton Works of U.S. Steel Canada
  • Rolf Leeser (1929-2018), German-born, Dutch footballer
  • Rolf Herings (1940-2017), German javelin thrower who competed in the 1964 and 1968 Summer Olympics
  • Rolf Dinardi (1911-1996), stage name of Alfred Körber, a German magician best known for his performances with feather flowers, Magician of the Year for 1989/1990
  • Rolf Trudgett, Australian rugby league player on the 1951 French rugby league tour of Australia and New Zealand
  • Rolf Sagen (1940-2017), Norwegian author


  1. ^ 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)


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