Show ContentsRoll History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 brought much change to the island nation, including many immigrants with new names. Among these immigrants were the ancestors of the Roll family, who lived in Yorkshire. Their name, however, is a reference to Roullours, in Calvados, in the arrondissement of Dieppe, Normandy, the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. 1

Early Origins of the Roll family

The surname Roll was first found in Yorkshire where they were undertenants in the honor of Richmond being descended from the distinguished Norman family of Rollos of Roullours in Calvados, arrondisement of Dieppe, in Normandy. A century later it appears that William de Rollos, Lord of Bourne in the county of Lincoln to the south, was also a branch of this distinguished family.

Richard Rolle (1290-1349) was an English religious writer, Bible translator, and hermit. He is also known as Richard Rolle of Hampole or de Hampole. He studied at Oxford.

Farther to the south in the parish of Whitstone, Cornwall, "The manor of Nethercot, which has its site in this parish, though it extends into that of Week St. Mary, belonged to the Rolles of Heanton." 2

Early History of the Roll family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Roll research. Another 213 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1568, 1589, 1622, 1630, 1633, 1647, 1654, 1656, 1660, 1664, 1665, 1669, 1671, 1672, 1673, 1686, 1705, 1708, 1735, 1736 and 1792 are included under the topic Early Roll History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Roll Spelling Variations

Before the last few hundred years the English language had no fixed system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations occurred commonly in Anglo Norman surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Roll were recorded, including Rolls, Rowles, Rolston, Rolleston, Rollesby, Rolles, Rholes and many more.

Early Notables of the Roll family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was

  • Robert Rolle (d. 1633) of Heanton Satchville, Devon
  • Sir Samuel Rolle (d. 1647)
  • Francis Rolle (1630-1686), an English lawyer and politician, Member of Parliament for Somerset in 1656, High Sheriff of Hampshire (1664 to 1665) and High Sheriff of Somerset (1672 to 1673)

Roll Ranking

In the United States, the name Roll is the 6,019th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. 3

United States Roll migration to the United States +

The unstable environment in England at this time caused numerous families to board ships and leave in search of opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad in places like Ireland, Australia, and particularly the New World. The voyage was extremely difficult, however, and only taken at great expense. The cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels caused many to arrive diseased and starving, not to mention destitute from the enormous cost. Still opportunity in the emerging nations of Canada and the United States was far greater than at home and many went on to make important contributions to the cultures of their adopted countries. An examination of many early immigration records reveals that people bearing the name Roll arrived in North America very early:

Roll Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Christoph Roll, who landed in New Jersey in 1709 4
  • Jorg Willem Roll, who landed in New York in 1709 4
  • Jacob Roll, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1754 4
  • Johannes Roll, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1754 4
  • John Roll, aged 22, who arrived in Maryland in 1774 4
Roll Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Jean Louis Roll, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1830 4
  • Heinrich Roll, aged 34, who landed in Missouri in 1840 4
  • Andrew Roll, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1846 4
  • Anna Maria Roll, aged 24, who arrived in New York, NY in 1848 4
  • Catharina Roll, aged 46, who landed in New York, NY in 1848 4
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Roll (post 1700) +

  • Sir Eric Roll (b. 1907), Lord Roll of Ipsden, Director of the Bank of England, Professor of Economics and Commerce at University College, Hull
  • Sir James Roll (d. 1998), the only Baronet priest in England and noted philanthropist
  • Gernot Roll (1939-2020), German cinematographer born in Dresden
  • Michael Roll, British concert pianist
  • Werner Roll (b. 1929), commercial artist
  • Henriette Sophia Charlotte Roll (b. 1890), well-known pianist
  • Nini Roll Anker (1873-1942), Norwegian novelist and playwright

  1. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  3. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  4. 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) on Facebook