This is an English surname. Recorded as Rocklay, Rockley, Rockly, Rockle, Rocklie, and sometimes the dialectal Rackley, it is locational and almost certainly from the village of Rockley in the county of Wiltshire. First recorded as Rochlie in the famous Domesday Book of 1086, and later in the Crusader rolls of 1185 as Roclee, the place name and hence the later surname, means 'rook - wood.' This is from the pre 7th century Olde English words 'hroc leagh'. Locational surnames are nearly always 'from' names. That is to say names that were given to people after the left their original homesteads to move somewhere else. The easiest way to identify such strangers was, and often remains so today, to call them by the name of the place from whence they came. Spelling over the centuries being at best erratic, and local dialects very thick, soon lead to the development of 'sounds like' spellings. In this case the village name itself has changed over the centuries, and this has also contributed to the different spellings. As it happens one of the erliest of all surname recordings is associated with Rockley, being that of Roisa de la Rockle of Oxford in the Hundred Rolls of landowners in 1272, whilst Johannes de Rocklay appears in the Poll Tax rolls of Yorkshire in 1379. Johanis Rackley was a christening witness at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on December 16th 1660, whilst Charles Rockley, married at St Dionis Backchurch in the city of London in the year 1700.
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