This surname is either of Old French or Anglo-Saxon origin. If the former, the name is locational from any of the various places in France called Rochefort, named with the Old French "roche", rock, and "fort", strong, well fortified. If the latter, Rochford is locational from either of the places in England thus called: the one north of Southend in Essex, and the other east of Tenbury in Worcestershire. The Essex place was recorded as "Rochefort" in the Domesday Book of 1086, indicating that it may have originally been granted to a Norman lord "de Rochefort" by William the Conqueror. The placename appears as "Roeheford" in the 1195 Curia Regis Rolls of that county, showing the Olde English "ford" taking precedence over the Old French "fort". Rochford in Worcestershire, recorded as "Recesford" in the Domesday Book of 1086, is so called from the Olde English pre 7th Century "raecces-ford", the ford of the hunting-dog. This Anglo-Norman surname entered Ireland both as "Rochfort" and "Rochford" in the wake of the Anglo-Norman Invasion of 1170, and was widespread in the Middle Ages, principally in Counties Meath and Kildare. Sir Richard de Rochfort was Lord of Crom and Adare (County Limerick) in 1243. A branch of the Meath family joined the Cromwellian cause, and are commemorated by the village of Rochfordbridge in County Westmeath. On December 11th 1657, Margarett Rochford and Edward Lord were married at S. Michan's Church, Dublin. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Waleram de Rocheforde, which was dated 1198, in the "Feet of Fines of Nottinghamshire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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