Brooks Surname Genealogy

Brooks, the possessive of brook, was generally locational in
characteristic, describing someone who lived by a stream or
brook. There were also place names such as Brook in Kent and
Brooke in Norfolk.

The Hundred
, a late 13th century census, contained a number of uses of
“Broke” and “Brock,” derived from the Old English broc, as surnames.
de Broc, granted lands in Colchester in Essex in 1119, was said to have
derived his name from Broc in France (Anjou).

Brooks Resources on

England. Brooke
developed as surnames, with Brooks the more
common. However, there were many prominent families who were

Cheshire There
was a Broke family of Leighton in Cheshire from the 13th century. Richard Brooke of nearby Nantwich was among
the many who prospered from Henry VIII’s dissolution of the
acquiring for himself Norton Priory. His
descendants were prominent local gentry in Cheshire.

The Brookes of the Holme valley in Yorkshire
began with Roger Brooke and a mill at the time of Henry VIII. His descendant John Brooke founded Brooke’s
woollen mill there in 1785. Son William
moved the mill to Armitage Bridge near Huddersfield in 1798. John Brooke & Sons continued in operation
until 1987. It was at that time said to
be the oldest family business in England.

Robert Brooke was Lord Mayor of York in 1585 and a later Brooke had the
same title in 1651. Their line included:

  • the
    Rev. John Brooke, rector of High Hoyland near Barnsley
  • John Charles Brooke the
  • and
    the Brook mill family who came to Meltham in the Holme valley in
    1778. Later three Brook brothers (Jonas,
    James and
    Joseph) started a silk mill complex there.

Lancashire. Brooks
as a surname has been more common in Lancashire. A Brooks family
who were cattle dealers from Whalley in the 18th century came to
in the 1830’s and developed a number of industrial enterprises in the
Rossendale area.

Another Brooks family from Whalley prospered as
traders, bankers, and later as property developers around Manchester. Samuel Brooks developed the Whalley Range suburb
of Manchester. Meanwhile a Brooks family
from Winsford in Cheshire
were watermen on the Weaver river around that time.

Ireland. The
Brooke family have been in Ireland since 1598 when Basil Brooke gained
the rank of captain in the English army in Ireland. He later held
the office of Governor of Donegal.

His descendants established
themselves in Fermanagh, an Anglo-Irish family there with a long
military tradition culminating with Alan Brooke, Viscount Alanbrooke,
the British
Chief of General Staff during World War Two. His nephew Sir Basil
Brooke was Prime Minister of Northern Ireland from 1943 to 1963.

America. Brooks
but not Brooke travelled to America.

New England.
There were many early Brooks
arrivals into New England, including:

  • Henry
    and Thomas Brooks from Manchester
    (probably cousins), who arrived in the early 1630’s and settled in
    Concord, Massachusetts
  • William and Gilbert Brooks, servants to a
    wealthy merchant, who arrived in Boston in 1635
  • and
    Richard and Thomas Brooks (probably related), who came to
    Massachusetts also in 1635 and later settled in East Hampton on Long

The Brooks in Concord, Massachusetts had many notable

  • from Henry Brooks there were Samuel Brooks who
    fought in the Revolutionary War (his Samuel Brooks house still
    stands); the
    Rev. Edward Brooks of Medford, Mass, one of the five Continental Navy
    chaplains, and
    his son Peter Chardon Brooks, a

    shipping magnate who
    became the first millionaire in Massachusetts.
  • from
    Thomas Brooks there were

    John Brooks, one of
    Washington’s generals who was Governor of Massachusetts between in 1816
    1823; and the Rev. Phillips Brooks, one of the most famous clergymen in
    during the mid 19th century.

Brooks had their own version of Battle Hymn of
the Republic

. Brooks
moved into Virginia and the South. Bruce
Edwards’ 1985 book The Brooks of Virginia
covered the early Brooks lines in Virginia.
John Brooks was a
arrival in Bladen county, North Carolina in the 1730’s.
Another Brooks family from Virginia
(Mecklenburg county) migrated to South Carolina, Georgia and Texas.

Later, the Brooks name
in America could have come from a number of Jewish names or from the
German Brucks. Julius Brooks and
Fanny Bruck
were pioneer settlers in California in the

Caribbean. The
forebear of the Brooks of St. Elizabeth in Jamaica was George Brooks
from Godalming in Surrey
who arrived there in 1715 and took up the Burnt Ground
plantation. A later George Brooks established the family at the
Blenheim estate in the early 1800’s.

Australia. Richard Brooks
was a mariner from Devon who arrived in Australia as a captain of a
convict ship in 1802. He died in Denham Court, NSW in 1833, after
having been gored by a bull. His sons Richard and Henry became
prominent settlers in the Monaro district.

Brooks Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Brooks Names 

Richard Broke
from Suffolk was Chief Baron of the Exchequer to
Henry VIII.
Governor of Massachusetts in 1816, was the last
Federalist to be elected to public office.
James Brooke became the first
white rajah of Sarawak in 1841, ruling that part of Malaysia as his
personal fiefdom for the next forty years.  Rupert
was the English
poet known for his idealistic war sonnets at the time of World War One.
Alan Brooke, Viscount
Alanbrooke, was the British
Chief of General Staff during World War Two.
Edward Brooke was in 1966 the
first African American to be elected to the US Senate.  Mel
, born Mel Kaminsky in Brooklyn, is an American writer,
comedian, and film producer and director.
James Brooks of Brooklyn Jewish
roots is the TV producer of American shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Simpsons.
Garth Brooks is a popular
country music singer.

Brooks Today

  • 60,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Sussex)
  • 88,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 22,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


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