The Bruce/Rookhurst/Roberts Connections

Not too long ago, I was told by other Robertses that our line descends from William Rookhurst, who was in fact, a “Bruce”. He reportedly chose “Rookhurst”, also spelled “Rokehurste”, which means “hill of the Rook”, in honor of Robert “The Rook” Bruce, first of that name who came over to England with William the Conqueror. Although I have not yet confirmed the connection between the Bruces and the Robertses, here is a history of this line from, “The Turnbridge Wells Guide; Or, An Account of the Ancient and Present State of That Place”, by Jasper Sprange. William Rookhurst, alias Dictus Roberts, a gentleman of Scotland, was the first British ancestor of the noble family of the Roberts of Glastenbury, in Cranbrook, Kent; who, leaving, his native country, came unto Goudhurst, a parish adjacent to Cranbrook, in 1103, being the third year of the reign of King Henry I, and there built and purchased certain lands on a hill in Goudhurst, called” Winchett Hill,” and afterwards named the lands and den” Rookhurst,” after his own name; which den still retaineth that name. The name and family of Rookhurst, alias Roberts, continued in the parish of Goudhurst, till the reign of King Richard II., being 274 years. Then one Stephen Roberts, Esq., the third Stephen of that family, married the daughter and heiress of William Tillye, Esq.,to whom the manor and lands of Glastenbury in right belonged, and built a fair sumptuous house on the hill of Glastenbury; which came by lineal descent to one Walter Roberts, the ninth squire by succession, who, in 1742, rebuilt that house; and in 1743, built the nowstanding moated house in the valley of Glastenbury, which came to his son Walter Roberts, the tenth squire, &c., who was disseized of his estate, and- forced to fly into sanctuary, for endeavouring to conceal his friend and neighbour, John Guy Deforde, from that cruel prince, King Richard III., but was restored on the accession of Henry VII., and became sheriff of Kent, in 1488. This gentleman had three wives: Margaret, “the daughter of John Penn, Esq.; Isabel, daughter of Sir John Colepepper; and Alice, daughter of Richard Nailor, Esq.,who had issue by him, several children; of whom the eldest son was Thomas, the eleventh squire, &c., and to whom Glastenbury estate came.- He was made sheriff of Kent, in the twenty-fifth of Henry VIII. This Thomas married the daughter of Sir James Fremming, of the county of Suffolk, who had issue one son, Walter Roberts, the twelfth squire, to whom Glastenbury estate became. He married two wives: Catherine, daughter of George Fane, Esq., of Badshell, in Kent; and Frances, daughter and co-heiress of John Maynard, Esq., sheriff of London, who had by him several children, of whom the eldest son was Thomas, the thirteenth squire,by lineal descent, to whom Glastonbury estate came. He was knighted in 1603— made baronet in 1620 —and sheriff of Kent in 1623. He had two wives: Frances ,daughter of Marten James, of Smarden, in Kent, who had by him several children, of whom the eldest son was Sir Walter Roberts,the second baronet. His second wife was Elizabeth, the daughter and heiress of Mathew Rowland,of St. Gilesin the fields, Middlesex; who had by him several children, of whom the eldest son was Sir Rowland,the third baronet, who married the daughter and heiress of Sir Robert Joceline, Bart., of Hide Hall, in the county of Hertford; and had by him several children, of whom the eldest son was Sir Thomas, the fourth baronet; who married the daughter and heiress of Sir John Beale, Bart., of Farn-ingham, in Kent; who had by him several children, of whom the third son was Sir Walter Roberts, the sixth baronet; he married Elizabeth, the daughter of William Slaughter, Esq.,of Rochester, in Kent, and had by him two daughters:—Elizabeth—and Jane,the late Dutchess of Hunton parish, deceased; by whose marriage with the Duke of St. Albany this estate is now become his property.

The succession by Lineal Descent.

1 William Rookhurst, & c. Stephen Roberts, Esq.

9 Walter Roberts, Esq.

10 Walter Roberts, Esq./

1 1 Thomas Roberts, Esq.

12 Walter Roberts, Esq.

13 Sir Thomas Roberts, first baronet.

14 Sir Walter Roberts, second baronet.

15 Sir Rowland Roberts, third baronet

16 Sir Thomas Roberts, fourth baronet.

17 Sir Walter Roberts, sixth baronet.

*Seventeen generations by male succession; eighteen, including Jane


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