The ROCHE families in Ireland are of Norman stock, their ancestors having come over at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion. They are now found scattered throughout Ireland but about one half are in County Cork, the county with which Roches have been associated for centuries and where they gave their name to the town of Castletownroche in the barony of Fermoy, to two townlands, named Rochestown, one in the barony of Cork and one in East Carbery. There are six Rochestowns in County Wexford where the first settlers of the name established themselves when they came to Ireland. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in 11th century, and indeed a few came into being before the year 1000. Early records of the name mention Alice la Roche, 1273, County Cambridge, Gilbert de la Roche was recorded in County Wiltshire in the same year. Agnes de la Roche of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Seenhouse, son of John Roche, was baptised at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1660. Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Roche, was baptised at St. Dionis, Backchurch, London in the year 1675. Ireland is one of the earliest sources of the development of patronymic names in northern Europe. Irish Clan or bynames can be traced back to the 4th century B.C. and Mac (son of) and O (grandson or ancestor of) evolved from this base, the original literal meaning of which has been lost due to the absence of written records and linguistic ambivalences which subtly but inexorably became adopted through usage. Genealogists and lexographers accept that the patronymic base does not refer to a location, quite the contrary. The use of the prefix 'Bally' (town of) attaching to the base name, identifying the location. The base root was also adopted by people residing in the demographic area without a common ancestor. These groups called 'Septs' were specially prevalent in Ireland. The first Normans arrived in Ireland in the 12th and 13th centuries to form an alliance with the King of Leinster. Under Elizabeth I in the 16th century, settlers from England established themselves around Dublin, then under English control and Presbyterian Scots emigrated to Ulster, introducing English and Scottish roots.
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