Show ContentsRoke History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Roke is an ancient name dating from the times of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It was a name for a person who was a person who because of their physical characteristics was known as a "rook," from the black-feathered bird of the same name, similar to a sparrow, but has a whitish area on its face. 1 In this case the surname refers to those individuals who have black hair or dark complexions. 2 3

Alternatively, the name could have been from the Middle English "atter oke, atte roke" meaning "at the oak." 4

Early Origins of the Roke family

The surname Roke was first found in Worcestershire where Robert Dellroc was recorded c. 1182. In Somerset, we found Peter de la Roke in the Assie Rolls for 1243 and later back in Worcestershire, Richard del Ak was recorded in 1275 and Richard atte Rok was listed in the Subsidy Rolls for 1327. Again in Worcestershire, we found Geoffrey atte Ock in 1296 and Geoffrey atter Ok in 1332. 4

Geoffrey le Roke, William le Ruk and Adam le Roc were both listed in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273. 2 A few years later during the rule of King Edward III (1312-1377), Richard le Rouke and Hugh le Rook were listed as holding lands in Somerset. 5

Early History of the Roke family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Roke research. Another 165 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1606, 1622, 1623, 1624, 1650, 1662, 1665, 1672, 1673, 1685, 1688, 1691, 1704, 1709 and 1820 are included under the topic Early Roke History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Roke Spelling Variations

Until the dictionary, an invention of only the last few hundred years, the English language lacked any comprehensive system of spelling rules. Consequently, spelling variations in names are frequently found in early Anglo-Saxon and later Anglo-Norman documents. One person's name was often spelled several different ways over a lifetime. The recorded variations of Roke include Rook, Rooke, Rookes, Rooks, Roke and others.

Early Notables of the Roke family

Distinguished members of the family include Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Rooke (1650-1709), an English naval commander, probably best known for capturing Gibraltar for the British in 1704. He was second son of Sir William Rooke (1624-1691) of St. Laurence, Canterbury, sheriff of Kent (1685-1688), and nephew of Lawrence Rooke [q. v.] In 1672 he was lieutenant of the London, flagship of Sir Edward Spragge, in the Battle of Solebay. In 1673 he was again with Spragge, as lieutenant of the Royal Prince...
Another 83 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Roke Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Roke migration to the United States +

Thousands of English families boarded ships sailing to the New World in the hope of escaping the unrest found in England at this time. Although the search for opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad took the lives of many because of the cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels, the opportunity perceived in the growing colonies of North America beckoned. Many of the settlers who survived the journey went on to make important contributions to the transplanted cultures of their adopted countries. The Roke were among these contributors, for they have been located in early North American records:

Roke Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Georg Roke, who arrived in Virginia in 1666 6
Roke Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Bryan Roke, aged 25, who landed in New York in 1812 6
  • Patrick Roke, aged 25, who arrived in New York in 1812 6

The Roke Motto +

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: Efflorescent cornices dum micat sol
Motto Translation: Rooks will flourish while the sun shines.

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  4. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. Dickinson, F.H., Kirby's Quest for Somerset of 16th of Edward the 3rd London: Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, St, Martin's Lane, 1889. Print.
  6. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8) on Facebook