Show ContentsRooke History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the Rooke surname date back to the time of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It comes from an early member of the family 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 Rooke family

The surname Rooke 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 Rooke family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Rooke 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 Rooke History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Rooke Spelling Variations

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Rooke has been spelled many different ways, including Rook, Rooke, Rookes, Rooks, Roke and others.

Early Notables of the Rooke 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) o...
  • Lawrence Rooke (1622-1662), was an English astronomer and mathematician, born at Deptford on 13 March 1622 and was eldest son of George Rooke of Monkshorton, Kent. He was one of the founders of the Ro...


United States Rooke migration to the United States +

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Rookes to arrive in North America:

Rooke Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Rooke, who settled in Virginia in 1650
  • Danl Rooke, who arrived in Virginia in 1652 [6]
  • Daniel Rooke, who settled in Virginia in 1652
  • Samuel Rooke, who settled in Virginia in 1654
  • Thomas Rooke, who arrived in America in 1654-1679 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Rooke Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Samuel Rooke, who settled in Boston in 1712
  • Samll Rooke, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1712 [6]
Rooke Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Rooke, aged 50, who arrived in New York in 1812 [6]

Canada Rooke migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Rooke Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Amos Rooke U.E. who settled in Belle Vue, Beaver Harbour, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1783 [7]
  • Miss. Fanny Rooke U.E. who settled in Belle Vue, Beaver Harbour, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1783 [7]
  • Mr. George Rooke U.E. who settled in Belle Vue, Beaver Harbour, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1783 [7]

Australia Rooke migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Rooke Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John James Rooke, British Convict who was convicted in Chatham, Kent, England for 14 years , transported aboard the "Commodore Hayes" in April 1823, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [8]
  • James Rooke, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Aboukir" in 1847 [9]
  • Eliza Rooke, aged 20, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Lady Macdonald" [10]
  • Margaret Rooke, aged 18, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Lady Macdonald" [10]
  • William Rooke (aged 24), a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Eliza"
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Rooke migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Rooke Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • George Rooke, aged 30, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bombay" in 1865 [11]
  • Esther Rooke, aged 22, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bombay" in 1865 [11]

Contemporary Notables of the name Rooke (post 1700) +

  • John Rooke (b. 1959), American award-winning broadcaster, inductee into the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame
  • Leon Rooke CM (b. 1934), American-born, Canadian novelist who helped found the Eden Mills Writers' Festival (1989)
  • Frank A. Rooke, American Republican politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from Greenwich; Elected 1918 [12]
  • Albert Rooke, American politician, Candidate for Connecticut State House of Representatives from Meriden, 1910 [12]
  • Pamela Rooke (1955-2022), also known as Jordan and Jordan Mooney, an English model and actress known for her work with Vivienne Westwood
  • Irene Rooke (1878-1958), English theatre and film actress
  • Lawrence Rooke (1622-1662), English astronomer and mathematician, one of the founders of the Royal Society
  • Noel Rooke (1881-1953), English wood engraver and artist
  • Thomas Charles Byde Rooke (1806-1858), English physician who married into the royal family of the Kingdom of Hawaii, probably best known for his mansion named Rooke House in Honolulu
  • Ronald Leslie "Ronnie" Rooke (1911-1985), English footballer
  • ... (Another 9 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Prince of Wales


The Rooke 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)
  7. Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  8. Convict Records of Australia. Retrieved 4th March 2021 from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/commodore-hayes
  9. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) ABOUKIR 1847. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1847Aboukir.htm
  10. South Australian Register Monday 9th April 1855. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Lady Macdonald 1855. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/ladymacdonald1855.shtml
  11. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 7th November 2010). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  12. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 20) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  13. HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html


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