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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7 Responses to “The Bruce/Rookhurst/Roberts Connections”

  1. Joseph Collins says:

    I’m researching and building a family tree. My great grandfather, Ernest Chester Livesay is from Kyles Ford, TN. I have a old picture with him and his cousin, Agnes Roberts. Maybe you know of her? I’m trying to connect the relation between them. My great grandfather’s parents are Elizabeth Martha Davis and Stephen Henry Livesay. Stephen’s parents are Mariah Surgener and Milum Davis Livesay. Elizabeth’s parents are Mary Jane Livesay and Richard Mitchell Davis. Thanks! I hope you can help.

  2. Sue Weller says:

    William , le brus or De brus was the first born son of Robert the Rook his descendants changed it to Roberts , i am descended from him

  3. Edward H.Roberts says:

    Cannot fill in information on “Sir Robert Robertes de Rookhurste II” 1350 to 1441
    Need Wife’s’s name and date of birth.
    Also, we are associated with 23&me.
    Will they be able to advise on the marker that proves that we are related to the Roberts/Rookhurst/Bruce line?
    If not who can we go to to obtain?
    Ed Roberts
    P.S. where are you located?

    • Jeff Roberts says:

      Hi Ed. This is the only info I’ve seen on his wife:

      I’m on ancestry, livingdna, FTDNA, and GEDMatch. FTDNA seems to be the best to find out if you are related to lines. They have group projects you can join. I’ve joined the Roberts project.

      So far, I haven’t found a genetic link to the Bruces. I have found links to other Roberts. I’m beginning to think that William wasn’t a Bruce. At that early date, they weren’t really using surnames except to indicate where they were from and to distinguish one William from another. “Bruce” came from “De Brix”, which was where the original Robert came from in Northern France/Normandy. Most of the Scottish clan names originated much later. I have found that I have DNA ties to the Robertsons, Armstrongs, Nesbits, and MacDonalds. Armstrongs and Nesbits are from the border, near Anandale. Whatever clan or clans we are related to didn’t exist when William migrated to Kent in 1103.

      I’ve seen sites state that the Roberts spread out to Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and Southwest England from Kent. There is a large Roberts line from Wales. They even have their own tartan.

      I grew up in Dayton, Ohio, but live in the Orlando area. Dad grew up in Blackwater, Virginia.

  4. Jeffrey Roberts says:

    My name is also Jeffrey Roberts, and descended from Robert DeBrus, My family came to America in the 1630’s, settling in Gloucester, Ma, then to Maine, then Michigan. My Grandfather moved to Florida in the 1920’s. It is amazing the family resemblance between yourself and me. Can’t posta picture here, b ut wou7ld like to share it with you.

  5. Jeffrey Roberts says:

    I am Jeffrey roberts and also descend from Robert Earl of Carrick and Annandale. My family emmigrated to America in 1630. I can see the family resemblence. I have a my heritage page that traces our family back to Robert and his ancestors in norway.

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