Recorded as Rook, Rooke, Rouke, Ruke, Rookes and possibly others, this interesting surname is medieval English. It was originally a nickname given to one who had some fancied resemblance to the bird, maybe of dark hair and complexion, or perhaps ruthless and grasping! In 13th century when this name was first recorded, humour was very robust, it was the time of Chuacer, and people obviously did not take offence in the same way as they would today. The famous name Kennedy for instance, translates as 'ugly head,' a description which does not seem to have harmed their overall progress. This name derives from the pre 7th Century word 'hroc', and examples of the name taken from surviving rolls and charters include William le Roke in the Assize Rolls of Somerset in 1243, William Ruk in the Tax Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296, and Richard le Rouke in the same rolls but for Somerset in 1327. An interesting namebearer was Lawrence Rooke (1622-1662), an early astronomer, and fellow of King's College Cambridge. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Roc, which was dated 1185. He was a Crusader and is recorded in the Knight Templars rolls of the city of Oxford, during the reign of King Henry 11nd, 1154 -1189. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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