This interesting surname is of medieval English origin and is a nickname given to one who had some fancied resemblance to the bird, maybe of dark hair and complexion. The name was complimentary in 13th Century terms and derived from the Old English pre 7th Century "hroc", a rook, and in the modern idiom the variants include Rooke, Rookes, Rooks and Ruck. The following examples illustrate the name development after 1185 (see below), William le Roke (1243, Assize Rolls of Somerset), William Ruk (1296, Subsidy Rolls of Sussex), Richard le Rouke (1327, Subsidy Rolls of Somerset). An interesting namebearer was Lawrence Rooke (1622-1662), an astronomer, and fellow of Eton and King's College, Cambridge. In St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster, the christenings are recorded of Robert Rook on December 21st 1610, and of William Rook on March 3rd 1699. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Roc, which was dated 1185, in the "Knight Templars Rolls of Oxford", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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