This interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from the place called Rockingham in Northamptonshire. The placename is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Rochingeham', and in the Northamptonshire Feet of Fines for 1197 as 'Rokingeham'. The name means 'the homestead or village of Hroc(a)'s people', derived from the Old English pre 7th Century personal name or byname 'Hroc(a)', from 'hroc', rook, perhaps given for the darkness of the person's hair, with the suffix '-ing(as)' indicating 'people, family of', and 'ham', estate, village, manor, homestead. Locational surnames were acquired especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. The christening of Robert Rockingham was recorded on September 15th 1684 at Potterspury, Northamptonshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hellen Rockengham (marriage to Richard Tomkens), which was dated June 28th 1585, St. Giles, Cripplegate, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, 'Good Queen Bess', 1558 - 1603. 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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