ROLL Family Genealogy - Origin of the ROLL Surname

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[ TRANSLATE: | ROLL Surname Origin | Surname History & German Alphabet Translation Chart | German Script Handwriting | Russian Cyrillic Script | The ROLL Surname in England ]
Origin of the ROLL Surname

Basically, the Roll surname came from the Latinized version of the Germanic/Normanic word Roul which is from an Old High German word "hrod" and translates to "fame" or "renowned". Rollins is a patronymic (from a diminutive* form) version of the name Rollo, which is a Latinized form of the name Rou or Roul, which was a Norman form of Rolf. Rolf has its origin in Germanic elements hrod = renown + wulf = wolf.
Latin was (and still is) the official language of the Roman Catholic Church and, until the 1900's, all German-Catholic church documents (birth/marriage/death) were written in Latin (Latinized). When written in official documents in Medieval times, Rou/Roul was commonly Latinized. Roll, Rolle, and Röhl are variations. Rollin is a diminutive* form, and Rollins describe the son of Rollin. Likewise, Rolls describe the son of Roll.
*Definition of the word diminutive: A word or name formed from another by the addition of a suffix (letter(s) added to the end of a word to change its meaning) expressing smallness in size or, sometimes endearment or condescension. In layman's terms, it is word or group of words combined and reduced to a smaller and simpler form. This is what we typically do when creating a nickname for someone who has a long or difficult name.

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names
German: from Middle High German rolle, rulle ‘roll’, ‘list’, possibly applied as a metonymic occupational name for a scribe .
German: from a short form of the personal names Rudolf or Roland.
German: habitational name for someone from either of two places named Rolle, in Westphalia and Pomerania, Germany [or Rolle, Switzerland, north of Geneva].
English: variant of Rollo or Rolf.

Roll Coat of Arms / Roll Family Crest - description:
The surname of ROLL was a baptismal name 'the son of Rudolph' from the nickname Rolf. The name was originally of German origin and was brought to England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Norman spelling of the name was HROOWULF. Early records of the name mention Rolf (without surname) listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086 in County Northumberland. Robertus filius Rolf was documented in 1142 in London, and Roger Rolves of County Oxford was recorded in 1160. Robert Rolfes, was documented in the year 1273 in the County of Essex. Roger Rolf of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of the year 1379. Thomas Rouf was recorded in County Sussex in the year 1524. Jasper Devenish married Elizabeth Rolphe at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in the year 1654. Thomas Rolph and Anne Bates were married at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in the year 1654. A later record of the name is that of Frederick William Rolfe (1860-1913) who was an English novelist and essayist. He converted to Roman Catholicism but his life was shattered when he was rejected from the novitiate for the Roman priesthood at the Scots College in Rome, but this prompted his most acclaimed work, "Hadrian VII" (1904). At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. This name was especially popular among Nordic peoples in the contracted form of HROLFR, and seems to have reached England by two separate channels; partly through its use among pre-Conquest Scandinavian settlers, and party through its popularity among the Normans, who, however, generally used the form ROUL. Most of the European surnames were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name.

Description from
German: from Middle High German rollerulle ‘roll’, ‘list’, possibly applied as a metonymic occupational name for a scribe (one who writes historical information on scrolls).

Martin Roll of the UK writes in 2011, " The Roll name is derived from the same root as Rolf and Ruth which both mean RED, as we are descended from a Viking called Thorfinn Rollo who was the fisrt Duke of Normandy, Rollo, was RED HEADED like a lot of Vikings."

 The surname "ROLL" as seen in German script documents.
 The surname "ROLL" spelled with cyrillic (Russian) lettering. (see the Russian Script Handwriting Chart)
The Russian naming system was used to record some German-Russian civil records starting about 1870. It recorded the son's father's name as his middle name. Meaning: "-ovich" or "son of". Therefore, it is common to read records as: Joseph Franzovich Roll meaning: Joseph, son of Frank Roll. As "-ovich" is the patronymical form for Russian, so is "-wicz" for Polish, "-escu" for Romanian, and "-enko" for Ukrainian. Most Russian surnames end in "-ov", "-in", or "-ev". If the ending is "-sky", the man is probably Russian; if it is "-ski", he is likely to be of Polish descent. Common Swedish nature terminations are "-blad", "-blom", "-dahl", "-ek", "-gren", "-holm", "-lind", "-lof", "-lund", "-kvist", "-sjo", "-strand", and "-strom".

von ROLL Surname:

Many von ROLL families lived in Switzerland and some were of nobility. You can find these families on the Worldwide ROLL Family Database page. Family surnames with “v.” or “von” doesn’t always signify nobility. Rule of thump: The “von” just assigns a family name to a location: Max von Hinterberg would just tell you that one of your ancestors was from behind the Berg -- Hinterberg. Translated it would be: “of” or “from”. The v. would suggest, as a rule, a lower (entry level) nobility. Similar to the title “Sir” or “Dame” in the United Kingdom.


William Henry ROLL writes, "I believe I have finally discovered the origin of the patronymic "Mangels" in the name "Jan Mangels," the immigrant ancestor of the northeastern USA Roll family.

"Mangel" is a form of the name of a Christian saint named "St. Magnus of Füssen, Abbot." Füssen is a town in the Algäu on the southern border of Germany, near Austria and Switzerland.

Of course, "Mangels" means "son of Mangel." "Mangel" comes from the ancient German name "Magnus," which also appears in the forms "Mang" and "Manges" in the Alps of Southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The name is mixed up with the otherwise apparently extinct German name "Magnoald," "Maginald," and "Maginold." The letters "gn," "gin" and "ng" seem to have been interchangeable.

So, the name "Mangel" came from the Alps down the Rhine River to the Netherlands, and then across the Atlantic to New Netherlands."

The Catholic Encyclopedia says...
St. Magnus (MAGNOALDUS, MAGINALDUS, popularly known as ST. MANG)
An apostle of the Algäu, died about 750 (655?). The history of St. Magnus is shrouded in obscurity. The only source is an old "Vita S. Magni", which, however, contains so many manifest anachronisms that little reliance can be placed on it. It relates that two Irish missionaries Columbanus and Gall, spent some time with Willimar, a priest at Arbon. Here Gall fell sick and was put in charge of Magnus and Theodore (Maginald and Theodo), two clerics living with Willimar, while Columbanus proceeded to Italy and founded the monastery of Bobbio. When Gall had been miraculously informed of the death of Columbanus he sent Magnus to pray at his grave in Bobbio. Magnus returned from Bobbio with the staff of Columbanus and thereafter they followed his rule. After the death of Gall, Magnus succeeded him as superior of the cell.

Phil Flanagan of Knoxville, TN writes in 2007, "My maternal line has been traced back to Wilhelm Mengel and his wife Ann Catherina Hirscners Stamm. Wilhelm was born in Stadecken, now Rhineland-Pfalz, Germany. He was born about 1711, married (his second wife) Anna Catherina on 1 Oct 1749 in Gonnheim, Germany. They came to the colonies aboard the Ship Peggy in 1753. The surname has appeared over the years as: Mengel(s), Mangel(s), and Mingle(s)."

WALZ/ROLL Surname:

Interestingly, the WALZ families have been found in areas where ROLL families originate, including Germany and Russia. The German words "WALZ, WALZE, WALZEN and WÄLZEN" translates to "ROLL, turn about, waltz, roller, and cylinder". There is no documented evidence of a relationship between the ROLL and WALZ families. The etymology of the name WALZ come from the Old-German "waldan" (to govern), which is the same for the first name "Walter". It was said many years ago that a WALZ family moved from Valais canton in Switzerland to Germany.

Surname History

TRIVIA: The world's longest name is Adolph Blaine Charles Daivid Earl FrederickGerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorftt Sr. in Philidelphia, PA, USA

Surname usage began in Germany around 1100 and first appeared in parts of Switzerland around the 1000's (11th century). The origin of many family names goes back to the 13th and 14th centuries. By 1600 surnames were commonly used in German-speaking Europe. Between 1670 and the early 1800's, surnames became permanently attached to a family by decree. Prior to the 1800's, name spellings were far from an exact science and were often done phonetically. To further confuse things, there were many German scribes who misinterpreted the old script and confused one letter for another which produced many variations of the same name.

The four basic types of family names can be described in terms of their historical origin:

  • Patronymics, i.e. surnames derived from the first name of the father; for example: Adam, Bast (short form of Sebastian), Jahner/Jantzer (variation of John), Lipp (abbreviation of Phillip), Lutz (abbreviation of Ludwig), Mischel (variation of Michael), Peters, Philipps, etc.
  • Surnames which are derived from nicknames relating to a distinctive physical or mental characteristic; for example: Braun (brown), Ell (noble), Groll (anger), Gross (big), Klein (small), Lang (tall), Klug (wise), Reichert (rich + heart = brave), Reihl (mighty), Stolz (proud), etc. Other nicknames are derived from names of animals or plants; for example: Baum (tree), Fuchs (fox), ROLL (fame/renowned), Schaf (sheep), Stroh (straw), Wolf, etc.
  • Surnames which are derived from the name of a locality (town or village) or from some feature of the landscape; for example: Acker (field), Bach (brook), Bayer (from Bavaria [Bayern], Germany), Böspflug (poor land), Frank (French/France), Hatzenbiehler (from the city of Hatzenbühl, Pflaz, Germany), Hof (yard), Landauer (from Landau, Pfalz, Germany), Koffler (hut/cave or dwells in mountains), Schweizer (from Switzerland), etc.
  • Surnames which are derived from a trade, profession, or occupation; or some product or tool distinctly associated with a particular craft; for example: Amann (official), Bauer (farmer/peasant), Beck/Becker (bake/baker), Deck/Decker (roof/roofer), Ferderer/Föderer (plaintiff), Fitterer (feeder/provides fodder), Germann (spear + man), Hellmann (warrior), Kary (St. Eucharius [Karius]), Kessel (kettle), Koch (cook), Nagel (nail/peg), Schröder (tailor), Zander (Alexander/tooth extractor), Zentner (tithe/tax collector), Zimmermann (carpenter), etc.

Other distintive German name characteristics include prefixes (name beginnings) and sufixes (name endings) like "s", "er", "berg", etc.
"au" = "..."
"bach" = "someone by a river..."
"baum" = "..."
"berg" = "someone from a mountain/hill"
"bruck" = "..."
"burg" = "someone from a castle/fortress"
"dorf" = "someone from the village of..."
"er" = "someone from..." or "someone who is a (trade/profession/occupation)..."
"erer" = "an apprentice to someone from... or is a..."
"ern" = "someone from..."
"feld" = "someone from a field"
"gross" = "someone big/large"
"heim" = "someone from the home of..."
"hof" = "someone from a farmstead/yard"
"horst" = "..."
"klein" = "someone small/short"
"leiben" = "fond of..."
"mann" = "man"
"reut" = "..."
"s" = "son of"
"sen" = "son of" (same for Norwegian; with "datter" = "daughter of")
"stadt" = "someone from the city of..."
"stein" = "..."
"tal/thal" = "someone from the valley of..."
"wald" = "..."

The ending "-er" is found in German and English names and the ending "-mann" (often contracted to the English "-man") connotes a German name; both indicate occupational names or denote that the original bearer came from the place or town indicated.

German Common First Names: Understanding a person's first name in old documents can be very confusing. For example, you will find Anna or Maria, which was followed by Margaretha, Katharina, etc. etc.
Anna Margaretha Roll
Anna Katharina Roll
So the middle name was used. You will often find a family with many sons with exactly the same first name; Johann for example:
Johann Joseph Roll
Johann Adam Roll
(infant death)
Johann Sebastian Roll
Johannes Georg Roll
Johann Adam Roll
Most of the fellows used their middle names when they married or had children. But, if the name was Johannes instead of Johann then his name was really Johannes and that is the name used.
For many 1800's German-Russian relatives, it was considered an "honor" if a child was named after them. Frequently, if one child dies, the next same-sex born child would be given the same name. Another "quirk" was to reuse a favorite name if that first child was no longer living in the home! The first name/middle name combination would be different, but the child would go by that particular given name that the family liked.
Religion had a profound impact on our German-Russian ancestors as most of the children were given biblical or Saint's names. Check out the Catholic Online Saints name index to research such archaic and unfamiliar first names as "Dionys," "Hieronymous," etc. Every newborn was considered a blessing from God. With each succeeding "gift" children, the more the parents believed God bestowed His grace on the family and community.
There were many German variations of names as seen with "George" and "John".
"George" = "Georgi" (Latin form), "Jörg", "Jürgen", "Gerhard", etc. "Yeri" is Russian for "George".
"John" = "Johannes" (Latin form), "Johann", "Joann", "Hannes", "Hans", etc. "Ivan" is Russian for "John". "Juan" is Spanish for "John".
Nicknames were very common in Germany. For example, "Josef" (Joseph) nicknames include "Peppi", "Jupp", "Sepp", "Josel", etc.

German Common Surnames: According to Ernest THODE (professional genealogist, author, lecturer, and map dealer) the fourty most common German surnames, in approximate descending order, are:
13. KOCH
17. WOLF
35. JUNG
38. ROTH

German Language: German is a language of the Teutonic division of the Aryan family of speech.  Its development followed from the seventh century onward, along two main lines; High German (Hoch-Deutsch), which became the official language; and Low german (Platt-Deutsch), which is spoken principally in Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg, Pomerania, Hanover,and Westphalia.  Both have attained the dignity of literary tongues. High German has gone through three stages of development known as Old, Middle, and New, respectively.  During the first two stages, books were generally written in greatest part in one or another of the local dialects.  The language of the third stage is due to a fusion of dialects. It grew out of the style and diction adopted in the administrative chancelleries of the German states and owed its widespread acceptance to the fact of Martin Luther choosing it as the speech into which to translate the Bible. In other words, modern classical German was in its origin a book language. Some of the old dialects, however, still survive and even possess literatures of some distinction.

German is spoken in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Records written in German may be found in these countries and also in parts of Poland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Hungary, and wherever German people settled. There are several different dialects in the German language. For example, in the province of Westphalia and other areas of Germany that border the Netherlands, you may notice words that are closely related to Dutch words. Presently, there are more than 100 German dialects. During the main stream of emigration in the mid 1800s there were 500 or more dialects. Some words are highly colloquial and were common in one town, while a neighboring town did not understand the word.

German words for persons, places, and things (nouns) are always capitalized. All nouns are classified as masculine, feminine, or neuter. This classification is called gender. The gender of a noun is indicated by der (masculine), die (feminine), and das (neuter), which translates as "the". Word endings may vary, depending on the way the words are used in the sentence. Thus, German is a romantic language, like Spanish, French, and Italian.

A complete German Language Course is available online at:

The following is a sample of German lettering idiosyncrasies and how they are many times translated to English. The two dots above a letter (ä, ë, ö, ü) are called "umlauts". You can type umlauts on your keyboard by using the   [ALT] key. The ß character is properly called the "esszet"; also known, as the "Scharfes Es", or sharp "s". It is often confused with an upper-case letter "B". This double-s character is used uniquely in the German language to represent the occurrence of two "s" letters in succession, such as in the German word "Schloß" (Schloss), meaning castle. An umlaut is a diacritical "mark" showing a unique vowel, NOT an alphabetic character, whereas the esszet is indeed part of the German alphabet. The "scharfes s", the ß, looks a little like the number 3. So, if Swabian school kids ask if a word is spelled with an "s" or an "ß", and it is a "ß" the teacher will often say that it is a "Dreierles s" (drei = three).

German Letter(s)

English Substitute


Ä ä

AE ae


Gärtner = Gaertner, Jäger = Jaeger

Gärtner = Gertner, Jäger = Jeger

AI ai

EI ei

Staiger = Steiger

AU au

OW ow

Braun = Brown



Schloß = Schloss





Dermer = Termer,

Dermer = Thermer

Heid = Heidt

EY ey

IE ie

Schteyn = Stein



Filip = Phillip, Josef = Joseph


CH (hard),

CK (hard),

GE ge


Y (soft)

Gloggemann = Glocheman

Eger = Acker

Georg = George

Geyn = Kuhn, Degele = Dekele

Goders = Yoders



Hansen = Jonsen


isch, ich,



Gregori = Gregory, Freitag = Freytag

Fettisch = Fettig



Jost = Yost





Kook = Cook

Flek = Fleck

Kratz = Gratz



Sommer = Summer

Ö ö


OE oe,


Schröder = Schrader

Schröder = Schroeder

Schröder = Schreder

OE oe


Hoersch = Hirsch



Plittersdorf = Blittersdorf



Schwan = Swan





Erhart = Erhard,

Erhart = Erhardt,

Bart = Barth

Ü ü

UE ue,


Müller = Mueller

Müller = Miller



Volf = Wolf, Vetsch = Fetsch



Weiþ = Veiss






Franz = Frank

Schulz = Schultz

Schulz = Schults

Zander = Sander,

German Script Handwriting (Suetterlin)

Suetterlin script: a script, created by L. Suetterlin, Berlin (1865-1917) , which was taught from 1915 to 1941 in German schools. It is also called the "German handwriting". The writing is a standard form of the earlier, very different chancery-writings .

Those of this generation, often cannot write any other way and yet both the postman and the grandchildren have trouble reading their envelopes and letters written in this script. When old family documents are taken out or church books are to be read , the knowledge of this writing is absolutely necessary.

This writing is rarely written precisely since it occurs almost only in handwriting. Even an experienced reader must "read himself into" the handwriting, until the text becomes understandable.

Today in Germany some remainders of this writing are still in use :
for example, "ß" which represents a combination of s and z, additionally often the "r" and the "z".

Special german characters : ä, ö, ü have two dots above. In the Middle Ages it was a tiny "e" above, this is similar to two tiny strokes (compare the Sütterlin "e"). Nowadays there are two dots.
You are writing correctly, if you write ae, oe, ue instead of ä, ö, ü.   , f.e. Doerling is the same as Dörling.
The "ß" that looks like "B" means "sz" and can understandably be written as "sz".
Please differentiate:
1) With the "e" the second hook is connected above, with the " n " the second hook is connected lower.
2) The "u" gets a round bow. The "nn" has an straight line.
3) The normal "s" is called long s, the ending "s" is called round s.The normal long "s" is in the center of the word, the round ending "s" at the words ending. With assembled words both forms of "s" can meet one another. Example: Hausschlüssel (house key), combined of Haus + Schlüssel.

You can get this character set from the URL : ftp://ftp.phil.uni or ...

 Download the Suetterlin Script "true type" Windows font (GermanScript.TTF) and install it on your computer. Note: Use the "#" key to type the 2nd lower case "s" letter.

Russian (Cyrillic) Script Handwriting Chart

Cyrillic is an alphabet based on Greek characters, with about a dozen additional letters invented to represent Slavic sounds not found in Greek. It was created in the ninth century (c.860) to serve as a medium for translating Eastern Orthodox texts into Old Church Slavonic, which brought the written language to Christian converts. Named for St. Cyril, a Greek monk and leader of the first religious mission from Byzantium to the Slavic people, Cyrillic is used in modern Russian and several other Slavic languages. There is some dispute as to whether this is the alphabet he invented or not. The Old Church Slavonic, also known as Church Slavonic, was the first Slavic literary language. It influenced the development of modern Slavic languages, especially literary Russian and was used in liturgies of the Russian Orthodox Church and other Slavic churches. In Russia, Cyrillic was first written in the early Middle Ages in clear-cut, legible ustav (large letters). Later a succession of cursive forms developed. In the early eighteenth century, under Peter the Great, the forms of letters were simplified and regularized, with some appropriate only to Greek being removed. Further unnecessary letters were expunged in 1918, leaving the alphabet as it is today.

The ROLL Surname in England

An England-specific genealogy site: GENUKI


ROLLIN (British).  Possibly a modern form of the ancient Irish name "O'Rothlain". 

ROLLINGS (British).  "Renown + wolf" (Norman).





Not listed. 
Arms:> Argent, on a chevron dancette between three billets azure, charged with as many lions rampant or, as many bezants. 



Not listed.  
Arms: Gules, a fess and border ermine 







The Origin and History of... ROLL

The "ROLL" family name originated in Yorkshire, located in England. The "ROLL" family traces their ancestral roots back to Norman origin.

Components of the ROLL Family Coat of Arms


Gold background with a horizontal stripe between three squares, each charged with a lion, and three gold circles upon the stripe.


A hand holding a flint stone.


"Nex Rege, nec populo, sed utroque"


ROLL Family References in the Harleian Manuscripts

The Harleian Manuscripts are records of the "Visitations" or, compilations of research done by heralds with regard to the backgrounds of English and Welsh families. These documents, compiled from about 1530 to the close of the 17th century, contain more than 30,000 registered family lineages, and are now housed in the British Museum in London, England.

The ROLL family name was recorded in the following counties.  This information can be used as a starting point for further investigation into these records at the British Museum.

Main County

Migrated to

Migrated to





The records of 244 Prestigious Castles and Majestic Homes have been examined to construct a database of thousands of families who originally owned, subsequently owned, were related by marriage, or were otherwise associated with these fine historic structures.

The ROLL family can be genealogically linked with the following estates.



Head of 19th Century Family










ROLL Reunion

"The German is like a willow.
No matter which way you bend him,
he will always take root again."
- Alexander Solzhenitsyn -

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