This interesting and unusual name is of Norman (French) origin, introduced into England after the Conquest of 1066. In most cases the modern surname, found as Rockell, Rockall, Rochelle and Rotchell, is a diminutive variant of the topographical name 'Roach', for someone who lived by a rocky crag or outcrop of rock. The derivation is from the Middle English and Old French word 'roche', which was later superseded in England by the alternative Norman form 'roque', to give the modern 'rock'. Some early examples of the surname may be locational in origin from various places in Normandy, such as 'Les Roches' in Seine-Maritime, or 'La Rochelle' in Poitou. The marriage of Francissa Rockell and William Sumner was recorded at Edmonton in London on February 14th 1585. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Rokella, which was dated 1175, The Bedfordshire Pipe Rolls, during the reign of King Henry 11, '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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