This ancient surname, of Olde English origins, is according to conventional wisdom, habitational from one who lived at one of the villages called Brook, or who lived by a brook. However, recent research suggests that for many nameholders their origin was job-descriptive, deriving from the post 1066 Norman French "broc", a word which translates as "pitcher" or "ewer", and as such was a metonymic for one who delivered fresh water from such a vessel. The plural forms of the name are generally patronymic, indicating 'Son of Brook(e)', although it is arguable that in some cases it may imply one who lived 'at the brooks'. A curiosity of the name is that whilst the spelling form of Brooke(s) is consistently found throughout England, in the form of Brook, which is the (apparent) locational spelling, this spelling predominates only in Yorkshire, where there are no placenames of Brook! The surname development is one of the earliest on record (see below), and examples include: William de la Broke of Surrey in 1208 (locational), and Richard Brock of Worcestershire (1275), which is job-descriptive. William de la Brooke was recorded in Somerset in 1231. Amongst the very earliest emigrants to the American Colonies was James Brookes of London, who sailed on the sloop "Jonathon" in 1619. He returned circa 1635 to marry his wife Alice Elizabeth, before embarking again for "Virginea" (as spelt) in July 1635, on the ship "Assurance". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Broc, which was dated 1119, in the "Pipe Rolls of Colchester", Essex, during the reign of King Henry 1, known as "The Lion of Justice", 1100 - 1135. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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