Surname Name Meaning, Origin, and Etymology
This Anglo-Saxon, Norman, or Gaelic last name has seven origin theories. This is a locational or topographic surname meaning “at the rock”, referring to a person who resided near a prominent boulder, mountain, crag, or fortress, and derives from the Middle English word rokke, meaning rock. A second origin theory is that it might have referred to a person who lived near a giant oak tree, from the phrase atter oke in Middle English. Third, it may be a locational surname given to a person who was from the town of Rock in county Northumberland, England, which is on a Rock, or from the town of Rock in county Worcestershire. Fouth, it might me an occupational surname for a person who spun wool or made distaff, deriving from the English term rok, or Old Norse word rokkr or Middle Dutch word rocke, meaning a distaff, which is a stick or spindle on to which wool or flax is round for spinning.Fifth, it might be a spelling variant of the English surname Roke. Sixth, it might be a name that derives from the Germanic personal (first) name Rocco. Seventh, it might be a metonymic occupational last name for a tailor, deriving from the Middle High German words rok or roc, meaning skirt or gown. The first theory seems to be the most probable and common. One source asserts the family was first found Worcestershire where they held lands and title during the reign of the Kings of Britain. In France, the family was first seated in Languedoc.
Another source claims the word Rock had Celtic origins and is an Irish-Gaelic word. It mauy have derives from various Gaelic-Irish septs, like MacConcarraige/MacConcarraigeacha, and was simplified to Carrig, Carrigy with or without a Mac prefix. In Longford/Westmeath, the Irish last name MacCargy was documented in the 1659 Petty's Census for Ardagh parish, this is possibly the origins of the Rocks in North Leinster and North Connaught.
The Surnames of Scotland by George Fraser Black, states the following regarding this surname: “Perhaps from Norman French, la Roche, an old Norman surname. Adam de Roc witnessed a charter by Richard, bishop of St. Andrews, c. 1170 and Waldef de la Roche, burgess of Edinburgh, rendered homage, 1296” and “David Ruch, a monk of Dunfermline, 1477 appears two years later as Sir David Ruth (a miscopying of Ruch). Alexander Rocht held land in Aberdeen, c. 1500 Michael Ruch, a follower of the earl of Cassilis, was respited for murder, 1526.
Common spelling variants or names with similar etymologies include Rocke, Rok, Roche, Roch, Roach Rooker, Rocks, Rucker, Rox, Roake, Roque, Wrocks, Rockey, Rockie, and Ruckie. There are also many surnames that have this word as its base: Rockcliff, Rockhold, Rocker, Rockwell, Rothrock, Rockwood, Rockett, Larock, Wittrock, Rockhill, Sharrock, Schoenrock, Stonerock, Rocks, Rockafellow, Sandrock, Rockmore, Rockman, Rockholt, Rockford, Rockley, Rockliff, and several others. There is also an Italian surname Della Rocca, Scottish surname Craig/Crag, and a French surname Roch, and a Spanish version Rojas, which all refer to rocks.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name ranks Rock ranks 1,779th in popularity in terms in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following four states: Vermont, Pennsylvania, New York, and Utah. The surname is also very common in England, where it ranks 1,872nd. It ranks highest in the following counties: Herefordshire, Staffordshire, and Worcestershire. The name is common throughout the English speaking world: Scotland (3,234th), Wales (1,600th), Ireland (698th), Canada (1,946th), New Zealand (5,525th), Australia (2,798th), and South Africa (4,773rd). The spelling variants Rocke ranks 26,283rd in the US Census.
Early Bearers of the Surname
The first documented bearer of this last name was Robert Dellroc who was documented in the county of Worcestershire in 1182 AD in The Studies of Middle English Local Surnames. The Hundred Rolls of 1273 AD, a census of Wales and England, known in Latin as Rotuli Hundredorum lists two bearers of this surname: Geoffrey de la Roke in county Oxfordshire, Eudo de la Roche in county Huntingdonshire, and Jordan de la Roche in county Devon. A one Alicia atte Roch was recorded in county Somerset in Kirby’s Quest during the reign of King Edward III of England (1327-1377 AD). An early baptism involving this surname was Francis, son of Robert Rocke, at St. James Clerkenwell in London in 1576 AD. An early marriage involving this surname was Mary Rock to Thomas Wanless at St. Michael, Cornhill in 1711 AD.
History, Genealogy, and Ancestry
The famous genealogist Bernard Burke’s book “The Landed Gentry” discusses one of this family: Rocke of Clungunford House. It begins with a mention of John Rocke, Esquire of Clungunford House in county Salop, who was Justice of the Peace, Deputy Lieutenant, and High Sheriff in 1869. He was born in 1817 and was also Lieutenant South Salop Yeomanry Cavalry who in 1853, married Constance Anne, daughter of Sir Charles Cuyler and Catherine Francis Hallifax, with whom he had three issue: John Charles Leveson, Hugh Owen, and Constance Ida. Burke states this is a family of great antiquity, and the first occurrence of the name occurs in the 1200s AD, when John Rock of Shrewsbury is mentioned as a landowner in a deed dated 1230 AD. James Rock was the fourth son of Richard Rocke (of Shrewsbury and Tregnanney, a Sheriff in Montgomery in 1620), and from him descended John Rocke, Esq. of Trefnanney and Shrewsbury who was born in 1727. John’s second wife was Mary, daughter of Borlase Wingfield, of Preston Brockhurst, and by her had a son named Reverend John Rocke of Clungunford, who married Anne, youngest daughter of Thomas Beale of Heath House, and had issue with her: John, Thomas Owen, Richard (Lieutenant Colonel 72nd Highlanders), Herbert (, Alfred Beale (married Jemima Margaret), Mary Anne (married Reverend Charles Walcot), Harriet (married Reverend Edward Christopher Swainson), Emily Frances and Louisa Octavia (married Edward Cannon and later George Evatt Acklem). The Rocke Family Crest was blazoned as follows in heraldry: Or, three chess rooks and a chief embattled sable.
A one Robert Alexander Rock was born in 1717 in Ballmoney, Ireland. He had three sons: John George, Thomas, and George. Michell Rocks, age 21, came to the Barbados aboard the Hopewell in February 1634. A one Raph (Ralph) Rockly was recorded as dead in Virginia in 1623.
Henry Rock Sr. (1793-1857), descendant of Johann Adam Rock (Ruch) born in Ireland in 1686
Early American and New World Settlers
A one Elizabeth Rock or Rocke (maiden named Coggan) was born in 1630 in Exeter, Devon and she came to Massachusetts, where she died in Boston in 1667. She married Joseph Rock of Boston, and had issue with him: Mary, Sarah, Rebeccah, John, Joseph, Benjamin, Lydia, Samuel, and Elisha. Her husband John was born around 1613, likely of Aughton in East Riding of Yorkshire, and he also spelled the name Rucke. Other early settlers in colonial America with this name were Anthony Rock (Virginia 1648), Joseph Rock (Massachusetts 1652), Katherine Rock (Virginia 1657), David Rock (Virginia 1661), Richard Rock (Virginia 1663), Rebecca Rock (Virginia 1722), John Rock (Pennsylvania 1772), and William Rock (Maryland 1774).
One of the earliest settlers in Canada with this last name was James Rock, who in 1750, arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In Australia, one of the first documented settlers with this surname was Charles Rock, who came to Adelaide in 1850 aboard the Condor.
The Rock family motto is Nil admirari, a Latin motto meaning “to be surprised by nothing” or “Let nothing astonish you”. This is a phrase used by the Greek philosopher and author Homer.
We have three coats of arms for the Wise surname depicted here. These three blazons are from Bernard Burke’s book The General Armory of England, Ireland, and Scotland, which was published in 1848. The bottom of this page contains the blazons, and in many instances contains some historical, geographical, and genealogical about where coat of arms was found and who bore it. People with this last name that bore a Rock Coat of Arms include: Thomas Rock of the Middle Temple in London; Lacock Wiltshire, Butleigh county, Somerset; Over Eggleton and Bishop’s Frome, county Herefordshire, 20 June 1707.
Harry Owen Rock
There are hundreds of notable people with the Rock(e) surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include: 1) John Rocke (1890-1984) who was an American gynecologist known for the role he played in developing the first birth control pill, 2) John Stewart Rock (1825-1866) who was a New Jersey born American teacher, dentist, doctor, and lawyer who became an Abolitionist, was one of the first African-Americans to earn a medical degree, and is attributed to coining the term “black is beautiful), 3) Christopher Julius Rock III (1965) who is a famous American comedian known for his roles in various movies (ex. Grown Ups) and TV shows (ex. Everybody Hates Chris), 4) Raymond Rock (1922-2016) who was a Canadian politician and businessman from Lachine, Quebec, 5) Harry Owen Rock (1896-1978) who was an Australian cricket player for New South Wales, and 6) Anthony J. Rock who is a lietenant general of the U.S. Air Force and the Inspector General of the Air Force.