Rochfort family

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The Rochfort family came to Ireland (possibly from France) in the thirteenth century and acquired substantial lands in counties Kildare, Meath and Westmeath. Several members of the family were prominent as lawyers and politicians. They gained the title Earl of Belvedere, and gave their name to the village of Rochfortbridge. The main Rochfort line ended with the death of the 2nd Earl of Belvedere in 1814.


While the name is clearly French, the family's precise origins are a matter of conjecture. They had settled in Ireland by 1243, when Sir Richard de Rochfort and Sir John de Rochfort were the lords of Crom and Adare.[1] Sir John was still alive in 1269. In 1300 Henry Rochfort surrendered three manors in Kildare to the Crown. Sir Maurice Rochfort was Lord Justice of Ireland in 1302. The main Rochfort line descends from Sir Milo de Rochfort, who was living in 1309.[2] His great-grandson John was Lord of Tristledelan; about 1415 John settled at Kilbryde, which was the principal family seat for centuries. John's son Thomas had two sons, Robert and Roger: Robert inherited the main estates including Kilbryde, while Roger was the father of the distinguished judge and cleric Thomas Rochfort (died 1522 ) Master of the Rolls in Ireland and Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.[3]

Robert Rochfort of Kilbryde (1434-1489) married Genet Nangle, daughter of Thomas Nangle, Baron of Navan and had issue a son Christopher, (b. 1462 in Kileen, County Meath). Christopher married Margaret Eustace (b. 1466) and had issue one son, Robert (b. 1488) and a daughter, Genet, who married David Sutton of Castletown. Robert married firstly Jane St. Johns and had issue Robert, his heir, and two daughters Elinor and Ismay, who married John Elliot. The senior Robert married secondly Jane Boix, (b. 1490), daughter of James Boix, and had issue four children: 1. James, who married Margaret Lynum, 2. Walter, who married Joan Fitz Symons, 3. Katherine, who married Nicholas Dillon, and Elizabeth (b. 1522 in Laragh, County Kildare, and married Robert Lutrell.

Walter Rochfort, (d. 1630) married Catherine Sarsfield and had issue Alexander, Henry, James, and Nicholas. It is James Rochfort's first son, Captain James Rochfort, who died in the service of his majesty under Lord Dillon's Regiment of Foot on at Kilshaughlin on 24 Feb 1641 [4]

During the English Civil War Prime Iron Rochfort of Clogrenane, County Cork, served under Sir Charles Coote's Regiment in 1641, and in 1642 he was a Captain of Foot, garrisoned in Naas with 100 other men. In 1647 he was a Lt. Col under Col. Long. It was around this time he was married to Thomasine Pigott Hull, daughter of Sir Robert Pigott and widow of Argentine Hull of Leamcon, Co. Cork, who died in 1637. Widow Hull had two children, Charles (b. 1636) and Mary(b. 1638) who was probably born post-humously. "TCD, 1641 Depositions Project, online transcript January 1970[5][6]

Lt. Col Prime Iron Rochfort was court martialed for the death of Major Turner, a fellow officer on 9 March 1652. The trial of Lt.Col.Rochfort indicates that Major Turner was bludgeoned to the head, without malice or intent to kill, but later died of his wounds. There is no detail in the court transcript to indicate what precipitated the incident. "I. Gentles, H. Maclean & M.[7][8]

Prime Iron Rochfort's son Robert Rochfort (1652-1727) was born 9 months to the day of his father's court-martial, and having been "bred to the law", had a highly distinguished career, being Speaker of the Irish House of Commons and Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer.[9] Robert's grandson, also named Robert, was created 1st Earl of Belvedere in 1756. Their principal residences were Gaulstown House and, later, Belvedere House in Westmeath, of which only the latter still exists.

Notable family members[edit]

James Rochfort, nicknames "Prime Iron"

Places associated with the Rochfort family[edit]


  1. ^ Logan, John and Archdall,Marvyn Peerage of Ireland Volume 3 Dublin 1789
  2. ^ Logan and Archdall Peerage of Ireland
  3. ^ Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 John Murray London 1926
  4. ^ TCD, 1641 Depositions Project, online transcript January 1970
  5. ^ "1641 Depositions". Retrieved 2019-01-22.
  6. ^ "BonaVentura, Thomasine (d 1510?)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2018-02-06, doi:10.1093/odnb/9780192683120.013.2819
  7. ^ "Law Officer's Instructions under U. C. M. J.: Military and Naval Law. Courts-Martial. Use of Courts-Martial Manual for Instructions Held Insufficient". Stanford Law Review. 5 (2): 366–369. February 1953. doi:10.2307/1226321. ISSN 0038-9765. JSTOR 1226321.
  8. ^ Lennon, Colm (1994). "The Foundation Charter of St. Sythe's Guild, Dublin, 1476". Archivium Hibernicum. 48: 3–12. doi:10.2307/25529615. ISSN 0044-8745. JSTOR 25529615.
  9. ^ Ball The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921