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The following written by James K. Rotchford in 1999

Rotchford Name: I believe, based simply on conjecture, it is derived from the french name “Rochefort” which means strong rock. Therefore our name would most likely have been derived from a location where the family lived rather than an occupation, characteristic, or patronymical in origin. On the Atlantic coast of France there is a community called Rochefort which has an illustrious history of boat building. My guess is that the Rocheforts went to England at the time of William the Conqueror (11th Century). If this be true they were most likely Normands whose ancestors were primarily the Vikings. That some “Rochfords” were on the court of England at the time of Henry VIII is well established. Lord Rochford, was considered to be one of the high priests of chivalry[1] but was finally condemned to death for treason, having been accused of incest with his sister Anne who was then Queen of England. Apparently his defense was so good that men were betting ten to one on his acquittal, until he admitted having said that the King was not able to have relations with his wife; ‘that he had no virtue or potency in him’.

Now George, Viscount Rochford apparently had no children and since his mother an issue of the House of Howard (Dukes of Norfolk) had married Thomas Boleyn it’s not clear to me how the name Rochford comes into the picture. It could well be that he had nothing to do with the Rochford lineage but the title of Viscount Rochfort comes from the name of land which he owned. Hopefully others of you can figure out this mystery.

Another mystery would be how the ‘t’ entered into the name. It’s clear that Rotchfords ended up in Ireland and in the process of being anglicized they possibly changed the spelling of the name to more reflect the English pronunciation. Again this is only conjecture.

Coat of Arms: Mom bought a historiography in 1973. “Quartered: 1st, or; the letter ‘R’ sa.; 2nd and 3rd, az.; a serpent nowed vert.; 4th, sa.; a fess or. Charged with a small inner shield arg.”

Translation: Divided in quarters: 1st quarter, gold background with a black initial ‘R’; 2nd and 3rd quarters, blue background; a green serpent twisted in a knot; 4th quarter, black background; a gold horizontal band. A small silver inner shield placed over all.

A serpent symbolizes universality, wisdom, and healing. Silver represents serenity and nobility.

This same source indicated that there were less than 300 households in the US with the Rotchford name in 1972. I do have correspondence from a Monica Rotchford the wife of a Rotchford who says their branch came for Long Island originally with a homestead on Staten Island.

Our oldest family member on record is Bartholomew Rotchford born in Wofford, Ireland in 1777(Supposedly Richard’s Father). Richard Libby Rotchford, Sr. was born in Alexandria, Virginia in 1830. He was dad’s Grandfather. He married Permilia Rebecca Carson whose sister married Robert E. Lee.

Richard Jr., my grandfather, apparently was born in Richmond, Virginia 11/22/1860. Through my mother’s recounting they lived on a plantation and had slaves and operated a munitions factory during the civil war. After the war Richard came west as a Telegraph operator and settled with his wife Eva Chase near Spokane. They initially had a store on the Spokane River and then later settled on a farm just East of Spokane.


[1] Neville Williams, Henry VIII and His Court, MacMillan Company NY, NY; 1971