This most interesting surname is English but arguably of Olde French pre 10th century origins. It is residential and has several possible sources. It may derive from the French word "roque" introduced into England and Scotland after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. As such it may be a topographical name for someone who lived by a rocky crag or outcrop. However, the surname may also have originated 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 spellings of the surname include Rochelle, Rotchell and Rockell. The surname first appears in the late 12th century (see below), and other early examples include Philip de la Rokele, recorded in the Feet of Fees of Essex in 1203, and 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, in the city of London; and John, son of Robart Rockyll was christened on November 24th 1594 at St. Olave's, Old Jewry, also in the city of London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Rokella. This 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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