This most interesting surname is an English diminutive of "Roach", which itself originated as a topographical name for someone who lived by a rocky crag or outcrop, derived from the Old French "roche", Norman-French "roque", and Middle English "roche", a rock (later replaced in England by "rock", from the Norman). However, the surname may also have derived from various places in Normandy, for example Les Roches in Seine-Maritime, or La Rochelle, which are named with the same element as mentioned above. Other diminutives found in England include Rochelle, Rotchell and Rockell. The surname first appears in the late 12th Century (see below), while other early examples include Philip de la Rokele, recorded in the 1203 Feet of Fees of Essex, and one John Rockel, mentioned in the Hundred Rolls of Wiltshire in 1275. Margery Rockall married Raph Poyntill on January 27th 1582, at St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, London; and John, son of Robart Rockyll was christened on November 24th 1594 at St. Olave's, Old Jewry, in London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Rokella, Rochella, which was dated 1175, in the "Pipe Rolls of Bedfordshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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