Rocha is a Portuguese family name. It literally means “rock” or “boulder” in Portuguese; for instance, “rochas sedimentares, metamórficas e magmáticas” means “sedimentary, metamorphic and magmatic rocks”. It is also a topographical surname that is found in Portugal as “da Rocha” or simply Rocha, literally, "one who is from/of the rock".
The roots of the name are in the Middle East, believed originating from Sephardi Jews. The first documented usage of the surname in Portugal was from a Monsignor de la Roche, who arrived in Portugal on his way to the Holy Land from possibly Flanders during the reign of Afonso III of Portugal, and assisted in the taking of Silves from the Moors. Afonso III of Portugal granted this gentlemen lands in Torres Novas and other locales for his services. His descendants used the Portuguese version of the word, ‘da Rocha’.
Another wave of the Roche family arrived from the Diocese of Fermoy, Ireland where they were viscounts during the reign of Joao I. This family helped with the Portuguese war against Castile and this gentlemen had three sons, Gomes, Louis, and Raymond. It is from D. Gomes da Rocha where the Portuguese version of the name continued onto later generations.
According to the “Dicionário das Famílias Portuguesas” (Dictionary of Portuguese Families) by D. Luiz de Lancastre e Távora, Gomes da Rocha was commandante of Pombeiro, Portugal and other monasteries in 1482 before becoming bishop of Tripoli in the middle of the 15th century. Another Portuguese author, Felgueiras Gayo, states Gomes was married to a lady by the name of D. Ines de Meneses and after becoming a widow, he became commandante of Pombeiro. It is from this family that the current coat-of-arms bearing ‘da Rocha’ families of Portugal are said to be descended.
- Pêra Rocha, a variety of pear from Portugal
- Rocha, Uruguay and the corresponding Rocha Department
- A Rocha (”the rock”), an international Christian environmental organization started in Portugal
- Arocha, a Spanish family name
- Lauro Rocha, Mexican General Cristero