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What this website is about and who is it for?

This website is for people enquiring about the surname Rock, Rocke, Rocks, Rox or any other variation from the English speaking World. Rock in its modern form occurs in many places in Ireland and Great Britain. All enquiries are welcome here, please contact me and feel free to download the information available here on this site. I am particularly interested in hearing from people whose ancestry originated in all four countries in Britain and Ireland. Especially from people currently residing in Ireland, or once from Ireland.

The website is trying to examine and establish the various different origins of the name in Ireland and also promote and reunite lost families through DNA. There are a few definitive origins, some from within Ireland and some from without. This is explored on the various pages on this website and puts the name in a historical context. There is a Rock Surname DNA project currently in progress to also try and examine the relationship's between the bearer's of the name and also to other surnames. It has been most successful in establishing lost families.

Do check out the Downloads section of this website, there you will find, all the Rocks/Rock/Rocke that appear in the entire Griffiths Valuations, indexed by county. Flax growers and the Dublin Census of 1851, a Tithe census and a modern listing of all the Rock surname bearer's in the modern Ireland both North and South. All this information is freely available for you to examine and download.

Rock DNA Project

There are currently 19 members of the Rock DNA Surname Project - Get Tested Now!

To access the Rock DNA Surname Project Click here: Rock DNA Project

Important: Anyone interested in joining the Rock Surname DNA project please contact Aaron Rock, Austin Rock or by visiting the http://www.familytreedna.com. The Rock Surname Project on Family Tree DNA was instigated in September 2004. Please be aware there is a financial incentive in joining the Rock Surname project [or any group surname project] as you get the benefit of the group rate. There are a large number of DNA test results so far, which indicate the name, in Armagh for example is primarily Irish or Scottish, Celtic - R1b. So anyone interested please contact me for details. I welcome all enquiry's and hopefully you will find something useful here.

About the Rock Surname

The name Rock is found throughout the English speaking world in a variety of forms. Its current spread indicates various and diverse origins due partially to the phonetic sound of the name and the multiple origins of the name. In Ireland, it can be of Gaelige, Norse or Norman origin, everywhere else it seems to be of a generic Celtic origin. Rock is a common word in a popular language, this fact should not lead anyone to assume the name is English, simply because it is a word found in the English language. In fact Rock is a Celtic word with Celtic origins. The Irish-Gaelic [q-Celtic] noun for rock is 'carraig', the plural is Cargy. Originally, in old Middle q-Celtic languages, the word for rock was Roc. The 'Car' was added in the Middle Ages to produce Car-roc; now Carrig in modern Irish. It is remarkably similar to the P-Celtic [Welsh/Briton/Breton] word for Rock which was Roc. The old Welsh word was the same and has now evolved into Craig, so Carrig and Craig are Roc from Medieval Irish or Old Irish.

Origin of the Rock Surname

There is three historical possibilities or categories for the presence of the surname Rock in Ireland:

Indigenous Irish - from various Native Gaelige Irish septs - like MacConcarraige/MacConcarraigeacha - these are simplified Carrig, Carrigy with or without a Mac prefix. Both of these renderings reflect two distinct families. Rock and Rocks (plural) is the same surname, they are not different, you can pronounce it either as Rock or Rocks in both English and Irish. In Longford/Westmeath the Irish surname MacCargy was recorded in the 1659 Petty's Census for Ardagh parish, this is possibly the origins of the Rocks in North Leinster and North Connaught. In the 1664 hearth money rolls for Keady County Armagh there appears two individuals, an Owen and Neal Cargagh. The plural of Carraig is Carraigeacha, which would be rendered in Irish phonetically as cargagha, this is the most likely origin of the surname Rocks in Keady Armagh.
Note: The elements of the Irish Rock surname are; Con=Cú=hound (stewert/Guardian) and carraig=rock. MacLysaght says that the anglicised versions are (Mac) Carrig, Carrigy, Carrick. He elsewhere mentions "Mac Concharraige", which is probably more accurate and also has the feeling that the genitive and the plural can be confounded/Confused, hence Rocks instead of Rock. This has happened with Ó Dhuibhne which became Deeny (daoine) and even the surname People/Peoples - Information courtesy of Ruairí Ó Bléine (ruairi @ dnet.co.uk) In all cases of a native Irish origin, the septs listed here are hereditary titles, they probably were guardians or custodians of the lands upon which lay the inauguration site of the main Chieftainship. For example the MacConcharrige of County Clare were Stewerts to the O'Brien chieftains.

"English" Origin - a rather grand and inaccurate statement from some of Ireland's best genealogists - who should have known better. "English" encompassed everyone from outside Ireland. English, Welsh and Scottish settlers did come to Ireland in many periods over many centuries. Earliest being the Normans, with their Welsh levies up to the waves of Scottish and English settlers in the early to mid 17th Centuries. Rock as a surname existed in its own right in Wales, Scotland and England since records began, some of these came to Ireland.

Name corruptions, Roche/Roche/Roach is a fairly common Franco-Norman-Flemish surname in Ireland, it is a name meaning Rock, it has been present in Ireland since the 12th century. As it happens, in the 17th and 18th Centuries the English records sometimes recorded the name Roch as Rock. This is fairly common in England and in Burkes General Armory there are plenty of examples of this.

In modern Irish, ROC means ridge, as in a series of ridges or waves, as in the sun's rays filtering through the leaves or is used to denote the ridge tops of a chain of mountains. Note with de Roch (which would have been pronounced with a 'K' ending sound in Flemish or Gaelic), in Middle French it would have been softer, much similar to Roche. Records show in England that the name Rocke/Rock was sometimes used in official records for Roach/Roche. This site makes no claims on the surname, as it recognises its diversity, there are many English Rocks, most Rocks in England will have come from Ireland.

The Irish Rocks

The earliest record of a Rock in any Irish record is the 1580's and early 1600's, from then to now a steady stream of records show the name to have been fairly common in the specific localities where it is found. The downloads section to the left contains a lot of information for people looking for their Rock relatives in Ireland. The Rock surname is heavily concentrated in several districts, both in Ireland and in Northern Ireland. There is no known connections between the Rocks in these districts. For example the Rocks in Antrim are quite numerous and seem to have no obvious connection to the equally numerous Rocks of Armagh.

In Armagh current investigations show the name to have been heavily concentrated in the South Armagh and Louth border region. There it first appears as Rocks in the Caulfield Estate papers in 1720. Investigations seem to indicate all these Rocks originated from a Gaelige Irish surname Cargagh or McIncargy, the Gaelige Irish plural form of Carrig meaning Rocks. Two individuals listed in the 1664 Hearth Tax Rolls, namely an Owen & Neal Cargagh are listed in the Townland of [Cladymore] in Armagh, this is where the Rocks of Armagh originated. DNA testing has been carried out on five individuals with ancestors from this area. The results have been startling and show they are all connected.

Anedotal evidence is been explored into the possibility of a connection between the modern Longford/Westmeath name Carrigy that appears in the Longford 1659 census from the Ardagh area as McCargy (The homestead of the Rocks). There are two towns of places associated with this name, Ballinacargy and Ballinacarrigy in Westmeath. The name Rock in the area appears to be a direct translation.

Elsewhere in Ireland, Rock as a name appears in the 1659 Census, in the Barony of Gowran, County Kilkenny. It also appears in the 1746 Elphin Census. Both Census show the Rocks where small Catholic landowners of Gaelige Irish origin.

Roch/Roche: Roch/Roche was sometimes written as Rock, evidence and incidences of this are provided in detail in the Historical References Page on this site. There is strong documented evidence that this is the case, whether DNA establishes this, is to be determined.

There is also strong evidence to suggest that Rocks originating in the North Connaught/North Leinster area originated from a Gaelic Irish clan background, one of them for example the MacConcarraigeacha/McCargy. DNA suggests a direct connection with the surname Reynolds (McRagnall) of the Muinntir Eolais Clann of County Leitrim. There are as expected many Rocks in Dublin, one of whom in 1820 was issued with the coat of arms featured on this page The Rock Coat of Arms. Dublin and Belfast cities are large urban area's where Rocks from the surrounding rural areas have congregated. DNA testing will determine the relationship of these Rocks. While the Rock name has been taken far from its many points of origin, fortunately the name is still found in the districts where it first appeared. The downloads section has a lot of information on the Rock surname Distribution as it was in the 19th century and where it is found today.


Rock in the New World has very diverse and complex origins, it can be German, this coming from the name Rockel/Ruckel. French, Roc, de Rupe, Laroque, Rocque. I have found, Benelux versions Roecke, Polish, Slovenian origins for the name also. So, it is safe to assume it occurs in many countries and has many places of origin.

The important thing is if you are the proud bearer of the name you will need to examine your family tree closely and identify where exactly you came from and where you have ended up. It is safe to assume the name comes from North-West Europe and it is more common in the New World countries than its places of origination.

This website is designed and maintained by Austin Rock, this is not a commercial website, nor those it promote commercial products, nor any political opinion. All information here is free, it is gathered from many sources, acknowledged where copyrighted. Anyone who would like to contribute or has information you might find useful, please contact me, I will of course acknowledge the contribution.