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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

The Irish name Roark has a long Gaelic heritage to its credit. The original Gaelic form of the name Roark is O Ruairc, which means descendant of Ruairc and; Ruairc is a personal name imported by Norse settlers.


The surname Roark was first found in counties Cavan and Leitrim (Irish: Liatroim) anciently the western half of the kingdom of Breifne, located in Northeastern Ireland, in Leinster province.

The recording of names in Ireland during the Middle Ages was an inconsistent endeavor at best. Since the general population did not know how to read or write, they could only specify how their names should be recorded orally. Research into the name Roark revealed spelling variations, including O'Rourke, O'Rorke, O'Rork, O'Rourk, O'Roark, Rourke, Rorke, Rourk, Roarke and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Roark research. Another 240 words (17 lines of text) covering the years 1046, 1172, and 1771 are included under the topic Early Roark History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


More information is included under the topic Early Roark Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


In the 19th century, thousands of Irish left their English-occupied homeland for North Ameri ca. Like most new world settlers, the Irish initially settled on the eastern shores of the continent but began to move westward with the promise of owning land. The height of this Irish migration came during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. With apparently nothing to lose, Irish people left on ships bound for North America and Australia. Unfortunately a great many of these passengers lost their lives - the only thing many had left - to disease, starvation, and accidents during the long and dangerous journey. Those who did safely arrive in "the land of opportunities" were often used for the hard labor of building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. The Irish were critical to the quick development of the infrastructure of the United States and Canada. Passenger and immigration lists indicate that members of the Roark family came to North America quite early:

Roark Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Edward Roark, who landed in Virginia in 1705
  • Henry Roark, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1773
  • Henry Roark who settled in Pennsylvania in 1773

Roark Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Mary Roark, who landed in New York, NY in 1811
  • Russell Roark, who arrived in Texas in 1835
  • William Roark, who landed in Texas in 1835
  • John Roark, who arrived in Texas in 1835
  • James O Roark, who landed in Arkansas in 1887
  • ...

Roark Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Margt. Roark, aged 38, who landed in America from Thornton, in 1904
  • Katie Roark, aged 15, who settled in America from Swinford, Ireland, in 1907
  • Michael Roark, aged 26, who emigrated to the United States from Dunmore, Ireland, in 1911

  • Anund C. Roark (1948-1968), United States Army soldier
  • Charles Wickliffe Roark (1887-1929), U.S. Representative from Kentucky
  • James Roark (1946-1995), American Pulitzer Prize nominated photographer and photo editor for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner
  • Garland Roark (1904-1985), American author best known for his nautical/adventure fiction
  • Michelle Roark (b. 1974), American freestyle skier
  • James E. Roark (b. 1945), American Republican politician, Mayor of Charleston, West Virginia, 1983-87; Resigned 1987
  • Clarence N. Roark, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Colorado, 1956
  • Charles Wickliffe Roark (1887-1929), American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Kentucky, 1928; U.S. Representative from Kentucky 3rd District, 1929
  • Bradley T. Roark, American Republican politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Louisiana 5th District, 1988, 1990
  • Bill Roark, American Republican politician, Candidate for Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1974
  • ...

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Serviendo guberno
Motto Translation: I govern by serving.


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    Other References

    1. Tepper, Michael Ed & Elizabeth P. Bentley Transcriber. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1800-1819. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986. Print.
    2. Land Owners in Ireland. Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1203-3).
    3. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    4. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
    5. Grehan, Ida. Dictionary of Irish Family Names. Boulder: Roberts Rinehart, 1997. Print. (ISBN 1-57098-137-X).
    6. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
    7. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
    8. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
    9. Rasmussen, Louis J. . San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists 4 Volumes Colma, California 1965 Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1978. Print.
    10. MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7).
    11. ...

    The Roark Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Roark Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

    This page was last modified on 11 December 2015 at 14:12.

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