Recorded as Roake, Rock, Rocke, Roque, the diminutives Rockie, Rockey and Ruckie, and the plurals Roakes, Rockes, Rocks, Rokes, Wrocks, and possibly others, this interesting surname is medieval English. It has several possible origins. The first is residential for somebody who lived near a notable crag or outcrop. This is from the pre 7th century word 'rocc'. The second is again residential but this time for somebody who lived near a large oak tree. This is a fusing of the Middle English phrase "atter oke", meaning at the oak tree. Thirdly it can be locational either from the village of Rock in Northumberland, which is on a rock, or from Rock in Worcestershire, which is again the fused form of 'atter oke'. Fourthly it can be occupational for a spinner of wool or a maker of distaffs. This is from the English word 'rok', meaning a distaff. Amongst the surviving recordings in the registers of the city of London are the marriage of John Rock and Joane Lowen on November 12th 1581 at St. Giles' Cripplegate, and the marriage of Richard Rockey to Sara Cooke at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on March 10th 1636, and that of Mathew Roakes, a witness at St Pancras Old Church, on August 6th 1753. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Dellroc. This was dated 1182, in Lofvenberg's, Studies of Middle English Local Surnames, for the county of Worcestershire, and during the reign of King Henry 11nd, 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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