This is a name that died out in Virginia with the fourth generation, but one rich in both history and genealogical mystery. I became interested in this family through quite a distant connection: Susannah Rookins, great-granddaughter of the immigrant, married Marmaduke Cheatham and their great-granddaughter Nancy was in turn the great-grandmother of my own great-grandfather Edward Young Anthony.
Spelling of the Name
There is some uncertainty about the spelling of this surname. Seventeenth century folk were casual about spelling, often even signing their own names in several different ways, so there is some doubt about how the individuals themselves might have preferred to spell their names. With regard to this family, it was spelled both with and without the “g” though very rarely without the trailing “s”. We find four basic spellings in the records: Rookin, Rookins, Rooking, and Rookings (sometimes including a spurious “e” as in Rookeing).
The earliest renderings of the name for the immigrant generally omitted the “g” and therefore I have referred to him as William Rookins. In Surry County the clerks, and eventually the family members themselves, began to render the name as Rookings. A review of 17th Century Surry County records for William Rookings II and III shows that the name was rendered as Rookings (or Rookeings) on 62 occasions but as Rookins (or Rookeins) on only 12 occasions (and without the “s” merely twice.) Therefore I have chosen to refer to the subsequent generations as William Rookings II and III.