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 it is often uncertain how the individuals themselves might have preferred to spell their names. This family’s name was spelled both with and without the “g”, though very rarely without the trailing “s”. We find four common spellings in the records: Rookin, Rookins, Rooking, and Rookings each (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. The clerks of Surry County, and eventually the family members themselves, added the “g” and favored the Rookings version of the name. 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 and 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.