de la Roche / ROCHE

According to my mother, our Roche family originated in France and the name was de la Roche until they shortened it to Roche.  They were Huguenots and left France in the 1600’s to escape persecution.  They went to Ireland and some time later dropped the de la in order to inherit land. 

In a letter dated 18 April 1995 from Dr. Diarmuid O Murchadha (author of Family Names of County Cork) he mentions that “according to my sources the Roche family originated in Wales having come there from Flanders in Belgium…Perhaps they (my Roche family) belonged to one of the Irish “Wild Geese” families who had earlier emigrated to France and decided to return?”  I don’t know, he may be correct.

My research into this branch was the most difficult to find and required a trip to England.  The connection from Grenada to England all started with a Will that my half sister, Felice, found for me.  Before that point, I had no idea where in England to look.  From that point, we were able to find many wills (in London) and even a newspaper article (in Liverpool Newspaper Library) listing family and verifying information.

John Roche was a Musical Instructor teaching piano lessons in Cork City, Co. Cork, Ireland when he met and married Lydia Abbott.   The following are excerpts from a manuscript by Miss J. ffolliett who collected Roche newspaper advertisements in Ireland for many years:

 CA Saturday 27 Oct 1816 Advertisement – Mr. John Roche has taken lodgings at R. Tivy’s, Grand Parade, and will give lessons on the piano forte having brought from London one of Clementi and Co’s Grand instruments for that purpose…having studied under the late Mr. Russel C. Neate, Sexto Pereziand and the celebrated Lalkhrenner…

 CMI Tuesday 7 Aug 1821 Advertisement – Musical Tuition – Mr. Roche will be assisted by his sister Miss M. Roche and his brother Mr. James Roche…

Lydia’s parents were Samuel Abbott and Mary Armstrong, also of Cork City.   It seems that I even had the marriage for John Roche and Lydia Abbott in my files from my trip to Ireland and didn’t know it.  [John Roche, 1812]  The connection was made four years later after ordering a copy of the marriage certificate for one of their son’s who was in Australia listing Lydia Abbott as the mother.

There are large gaps between some of the children which lead me to believe that there were more children that I am not aware of and/or John may have remarried.  There is a William Roche of whom I feel very strongly is a son.  Because of his connection found in a Will, I have tentatively added him as a son.  I will remove him if I find definite proof that he is not.  Many connections have been made for the known children of John and Lydia.

I have not been able to do any research into birth or baptismal records in Ireland as Ireland has not released the majority of surviving records for filming by the LDS.  County Cork is in the process of digitizing the records and I hope some time in the near future to be able to pay for searches to be made in Cork City.

Listed below are the known children of John and Lydia.

John Roche

John completed his Medical studies in Dublin, Ireland, and then paid for his MD from the University of Glasgow in 1837.  At that time, if you could prove your qualifications, a degree could be paid for without having to attend the University.

He married Catherine Sarah Gillmer 5 July 1838 in Barony Parish, Glasgow.  They moved to Liverpool, England, where he went into practice as a Surgeon.

I have reason to believe that family for either John or Sarah lived in Glasgow and that is why they were there.  John remained in Glasgow a year after obtaining his M.D.  Also, cousin David Roche Summers, tells me of how his mother spoke often of family in Glasgow.

Mary Roche

Little is known about Mary other than she married Alfred Redford, a Chemist in Liverpool, England.  They had two sons that I know of, George A. Redford and John A. Redford. 

Samuel Edward Roche

Samuel was my great grandfather and the one who went to Grenada, British West Indies.  He  married first Christiana Margaret Stevenson Aird.  He and Christiana soon moved to Carriacou where he was the Magistrate.  This is where most of their six children were born.  After Christiana’s death, he married secondly to Francis Eliza Campbell and fathered two children.  I don’t know what happened to the children after their parent’s deaths.  I believe Francis Eliza’s sister may have taken charge of them.  My mother says she remembers playing with one of them at Mt. Cenis so I believe they stayed in Grenada at least through childhood.

Samuel worked as a Magistrate and Chief of Police until his death in 1892 during a voyage to England.

James Walter Douglas Roche

James was a Corn Broker and Insurance Agent and Broker.  He traveled extensively and married his wife Margaret Sarah Jones in Melbourne, Australia, on 28 Mar 1854.  Several of their children were born there before the family returned to England.

James had offices in Liverpool and Oxton, England.  His religion was listed on his Marriage Certificate as Independent Denomination (Independents).

Edward Roche

Edward was a Tea Taster and Broker and is listed in the 1871 Directory of Liverpool as a Tea Merchant with Lloyd, Matheson & Co.  According to Iris Roche, Edward was a tea taster for the Queen, probably Queen Victoria. 

Eleanore Roche

Almost nothing is known about Eleanore other than she married John Tremayne Lane (Chartered Accountant and Treasurer of Bristol, England) and they had five children.

I am hoping that a descendent will contact me and be able to tell me something about her as a person.

Arms and Crests

This crest was used by Wilson Mills Roche (my grandfather’s first cousin) on his stationery (without the banner).  I have traced it to the Roche family of Granagh Castle in Kilkenny, Ireland.  For some time I have believed that we may have been connected to the George Roche of that place, but have not been able to find enough information on the family to make any headway. (Copy provided by Iris Roche from a letter of Wilson Mills Roche to her mother abt. 1913.)

I have since been given a photograph of a piece of silverware that Edward Roche (my grandfather’s brother) used that shows this crest engraved into the top of the silverware.

Baron Alexander Adair Roche, “Lord Roche of Oxford” (my grandfather’s cousin), won a classical scholarship to Wadham College, Oxford, where he was a contemporary of two future lord chancellors (Birkenhead and Simon, qq.v).  He became an honorary fellow of his college in 1917.  After leaving Oxford, he worked for a time in the office of his uncle, Wilson Mills Roche, specializing in maritime matters.  This experience shaped his future career.  He was called to the bar of the Inner Temple in 1896 and was elected a bencher of his Inn in 1917 and served as treasurer in 1939.

He was presented with his Arms and Crest after he was knighted and appointed a judge of the King’s Bench division in 1935.  He enjoyed his service in the House of Lords and the Judicial Committee.  He preferred his employment to be fast-paced  and for relaxation enjoyed fox hunting and was an accomplished fly fisherman.  He is listed in the Dictionary of National Biography 1951-1960 (for England).  


Oral History

According to my mother, our ancestors:

had been de la Roche in France and were not of the Royalty, but of the Nobility
had ALWAYS been Protestant
changed their name to Roche to inherit property (in Ireland?)
had settled and lived in Roche’s Country in Ireland before moving to England

With few records left in County Cork to research because of the Four Courts fire in 1922, I don’t know if I will ever get farther back and be able to prove the above, but I am not going to give up.  

It certainly is a great adventure we are on no matter what the outcome!

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  1. Regarding the descendants of Edward Albert Roche via Dorothy Carlotta Roche, who married Collyns Benjamin Farmer: their daughter Collyna Roche married Roy Schleifer, who died Oct 1984 in Anguilla (this updates Lillian Lange’s letter). The living male Basil Farmer is deceased. His wife has recently died:

    I have info on Collyna Roche & Roy Schleifer’s 3 offspring and decendants but would not want to post info online.
    Every best,

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