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SIR ROGER ROCKVILLE of Rockville was
the last of a very long line. It extended from
the Norman Conquest to the present century.
His first known ancestor came over with
William, and must have been a man of some
mark, either of bone and sinew, or of brain,
for he obtained what the Americans would
call a prime location. As his name does not
occur in the Roll of Battle Abbey, he was, of
course, not of a very high Norman extraction;
but he had done enough, it seems, in the way
of knocking down Saxons, to place himself
on a considerable eminence in this kingdom.
The centre of his domains was conspicuous
far over the country, through a high range of
rock overhanging one of the sweetest rivers
in England. On one hand lay a vast tract of
rich marsh land, capable, as society advanced,
of being converted into meadows; and on
the other, as extensive moorlands, finely
undulating, and abounding with woods and

Here the original Sir Roger built his castle
on the summit of the range of rock, with
huts for his followers; and became known
directly all over the country of Sir Roger de
Rockville, or Sir Roger of the hamlet on the
Rock. Sir Roger, as doubt, was a mighty
hunter before the lord of the feudal district:
it is certain that his descendants were. For
generations they led a jolly life at Rockville,
and were always ready to exchange the
excitement of the chase for a bit of civil
war. Without that the country would have
grown dull, and ale and venison lost their
flavour. There was no gay London in those
days, and a good brisk skirmish with their
neighbours in helm and hauberk was the
way of spending their season. It was their
parliamentary debate, and was necessary to
stir their blood. Protection and Free Trade
were as much the great topics of interest as
they are now, only they did not trouble
themselves so much about Corn bills. Their bills
were of good steel, and their protective
measures were arrows a cloth-yard long.
Protection meant a good suit of mail; and a
castle with its duly prescribed moats, bastions,
portcullises, and donjon keep. Free Trade
was a lively inroad into the neighbouring
baron's lands, and the importation thence of
goodly herds and flocks. Foreign cattle for
home consumption was as striking an article
in their markets as in ours, only the blows
were expended on one another's heads,
instead of the heads of foreign bullocks
that is, bullocks from over the Welch or
Scotch Marches, as from beyond the next

Thus lived the Rockvilles for ages. In all
the iron combats of those iron times they
took care to have their quota. Whether it
were Stephen against Matilda, or Richard
against his father, or John against the barons;
whether it were York or Lancaster, or Tudor
or Stuart. The Rockvilles were to be found
in the mêlée, and winning power and lands.
So long as it required only stalwart frames
and stout blows, no family cut a more
conspicuous figure. The Rockvilles were at
Bosworth Field. The Rockvilles fought in
Ireland under Elizabeth. The Rockvilles
were staunch defenders of the cause in the
war of Charles I. with his Parliament. The
Rockvilles even fought for James II. at the
Boyne, when three-fourths of the most loyal
of the English nobility and gentry had
deserted him in disgust and indignation. But
from that hour they had been less conspicuous.

The opposition to the successful party, that
of William of Orange, of course brought them
into disgrace: and though they were never
molested on that account, they retired to their
estate, and found it convenient to be as
unobtrusive as possible. Thenceforward you heard
no more of the Rockvilles in the national
annals. They became only of consequence in
their own district. They acted as magistrates.
They served as high sheriffs. They were a
substantial county family, and nothing more.
Education and civilisation advanced; a wider
and very different field of action and ambition
opened upon the aristocracy of England. Our
fleets and armies abroad, our legislature at
home, law and the church, presented brilliant
paths to the ambition of those thirsting for
distinction, and the good things that follow it.
But somehow the Rockvilles did not expand
with this expansion. So long as it required
only a figure of six feet high, broad shoulders,
and a strong arm, they were a great and
conspicuous race. But when the head became the
member most in request, they ceased to go