ROOKE, Sir George (1650-1709), of St. Lawrence, Canterbury, Kent

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1698 - 1708

Family and Education

b. 1650, 1st s. of Sir William Rooke of St. Lawrence, Canterbury by Jane (d. 1711), da. and coh. of Thomas Finch of Coptree, Allington, Kent.  m. (1) by Oct. 1684, Mary (d. 1699), da. of Sir George Grobham Howe, 1st Bt.†, of Berwick St. Leonard, Wilts., sis. of Sir James Howe, 2nd Bt.*, s.p. (2) ?21 Jan. 1701, Mary, (d. 1702), da. of Francis Luttrell*, and niece of Alexander Luttrell*, 1s. (3) ?16 Jan. 1706, Catherine (d. 1755), da. of Sir Thomas Knatchbull, 3rd Bt., of Mersham Hatch, Kent, sis. of Edward Knatchbull*, s.psuc. fa. 1691; kntd. 20 Feb. 1693.1

Offices Held

Ent. RN bef. 1672; lt. 1672, capt. 1673, r.-adm. 1690, v.-adm. 1692, adm. 1693–d., adm. of the fleet 1696–?1705; v.-adm of Eng. 1702–1706; lt. of ft. Duke of York’s regt. 1675, capt. 1687.2

Extra commr. Navy Board Jan. 1692–Apr. 1694; Admiralty commr. May 1694–Jan. 1702; member, council of ld. high adm. May 1702–June 1705.

Commr. Greenwich Hosp. 1695–?d., Q. Anne’s bounty 1704, Dover harbour by 1706.3

Freeman, Portsmouth 1697, Canterbury 1698, Rochester 1703, Southampton 1703.4

PC 13 November 1702–May 1707.5


Rooke’s father was a key figure in the Tory reaction in Kent. As a deputy-lieutenant during the Exclusion crisis and its aftermath, his letters are full of deep-seated antipathy towards Nonconformists, and anyone he perceived to have profited from the Civil Wars. Knighted in 1685, he was excused the payment of fees owing to ‘long and faithful services’, not only to James II, but to his father and brother. He served as sheriff of Kent throughout James II’s reign and in 1687 agreed to the ‘three questions’. On 14 Dec. 1688 he waited on the King at Faversham, where, according to the Earl of Ailesbury (Thomas Bruce†), he ‘behaved himself, and he singly, with all firmity and loyalty towards the King, but he was but one clean one among so many scabby time-servers’. The only hint of disaffection comes from (Sir) George Byng* who reported that ‘Colonel’ Rooke had visited the Prince of Orange’s camp in November 1688. Rooke, however, appears to have been at best ambivalent towards King James, and having served with Admiral Arthur Herbert† in Tangiers, is likely to have been implicated in the designs of those naval officers who wished to ensure that William of Orange landed unmolested. According to Boyer, Rooke ‘readily fell in with’ the Revolution and felt no compunction in serving the new regime.6

Rooke had never been intended for a naval career, his father originally apprenticing him to a London attorney. However, much to his father’s chagrin, Rooke was forever engaging in ‘pranks’. Accounts differ as to whether he actually ran away to sea, or whether he was sent there as a disciplinary measure, but he prospered in his new career, helped no doubt by his father’s persistence in soliciting commands for him in the lean years of the 1670s. The need for gainful employment explains his army commission in 1675. Rooke was certainly ambitious, for even in the tense circumstances of December 1688, when he was too ‘indisposed’ to wait on the Earl of Dartmouth (George Legge†), he was not above asking his superior for a better ship on the grounds that he was the senior captain available. Rooke benefited from the war years after 1688, serving on the Irish campaign in 1689, and being rewarded with a flag the following year. This promotion nearly proved his undoing, for his conduct as rear-admiral in June 1690 at the battle of Beachy Head was severely criticized, and Narcissus Luttrell* even reported his dismissal. Fortunately, Rooke had powerful protectors. The Earl of Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) thought that his case seemed hard, and the Duke of Grafton believed he ‘has the greatest wrong done him’. Edward Russell’s* view was crucial: ‘the strictest inquiry shows that he has done his duty’. With Lord Torrington (the former Admiral Herbert) made the scapegoat, Rooke was formally cleared on 8 Aug. 1690.7

Rooke was clearly not deflected by the death of his father in 1691 from pursuing a naval career. Indeed, he soon acquired a foothold in the naval administration, being appointed in January 1692 to the Navy Board. He performed well at La Hogue, and even escaped blame for his role in the Smyrna convoy debacle of 1693. On this occasion he argued that as the commander on the spot he had fought a skilful action against the French. Two of the three joint-admirals of the fleet (Sir Ralph Delaval* and Henry Killigrew*) lost their flags as a consequence. The parliamentary inquiry into the disaster during the 1693–4 session marked Rooke’s first major experience of the Commons. Having survived this ordeal, he was advanced to the Admiralty commission in May 1694. One historian refuses to characterize Rooke as a Tory at this point, preferring to describe him as ‘not a Whig’, in order to contrast his demeanour with that of Delaval and Killigrew who were ‘active or notorious in party warfare’ as Tories. Rooke on the other hand ‘tried to keep aloof from politics and simply to do his job’, qualities which the King found attractive. However, only a year later L’Hermitage described Rooke as a Tory. In 1696 Rooke was appointed to command the English fleet, a poisoned chalice given the poor condition at this time of ships and men, the realization of which may account for his professions of unworthiness for the post when compared to Russell, ‘there being few men in the world, besides himself, that are fitly qualified for so great a command’. The new position did, however, present him with the opportunity for some overblown prose detailing his determination to serve despite the severest hardships, having

settled my resolution to venture my life cheerfully in the service of my country upon any terms, and I will rather choose to die in the defence of our liberty and religion, than submit to popery and slavery; or retreat before persecution into the mountains of Wales or the Highlands of Scotland.

When, in May 1696, he was recalled from his command after failing to intercept the Toulon squadron, Rooke felt that his honour had been impugned, even though the ostensible reason was the need for him to attend the Admiralty Board. Such was his disappointment that the Duke of Shrewsbury suggested the King make clear his satisfaction with Rooke. These circumstances may provide the background to Rooke’s efforts during the autumn of 1696 to consider standing for Parliament, first at a by-election for Winchelsea, and then at Queenborough, where he received the support of the navy interest but was baulked by the borough’s deputy-governor, Thomas King*. Thus, the only role Rooke played in the 1696–7 session was as a witness in the inquiries into the failure to intercept the Toulon fleet. Efforts were made by some MPs to drive a wedge between Rooke and Russell, but, as James Vernon I* reported, Rooke was

very cautious and prudent in his answers, avoiding all occasions of loading the Admiralty, or shewing any resentment against them, though all endeavours are used to stir it up by representing the hardships put upon him, and the affront in turning him out of the command when he had acquitted himself so well in bringing home the fleet.

Perhaps Rooke felt that this line of questioning from Tories such as Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt.*, and Sir Christopher Musgrave, 4th Bt.*, made his own case sufficiently clear.8

Rooke ended the Nine Years War as admiral of the fleet, having taken the oaths and signed the Association in May 1697. He was also one of the few naval officers to make a fortune out of prize money during the war. Macaulay was mistaken in asserting that on 8 Jan. 1698 ‘the naval men with Rooke at their head, voted against the government’ on a question appertaining to the standing army. Rooke did not become a Member until the general election later in the year when he was returned for Portsmouth, four days before his defeat at Warwick under the patronage of Lord Brooke (Hon. Fulke Greville†). His name appears on a list of placemen for September 1698, and on a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments he was classed as a Court supporter. As a member of the Admiralty, Rooke acted as a spokesman on naval affairs and was placed in a difficult position in the 1698–9 session when the Commons investigated the conduct of various members of the board, including Orford’s protégé, Henry Priestman*. Vernon was not entirely happy with Rooke’s conduct, noting on 31 Jan. 1699: ‘I cannot approve of Sir George Rooke’s behaviour . . . who sat silent and voted against the question; one of his post and character should either have aggravated or extenuated the charge.’ Rooke did, however, play his part on 3 Feb. in the debates in committee of supply on the naval estimates. He reviewed the ships in service in each theatre of operations before proposing 15,000 men. In answer to those advocating 10,000, as in the previous year, Rooke pointed out that the garrisons being lessened made more men necessary. Rooke was also prominent in the debates in committee of supply on 16 Feb. when the estimate for the ordinary was discussed: it would appear that he was concerned to curb the tendency among some MPs towards excessive retrenchment, pointing out that by his own calculations what might be saved was ‘not more than the sum proposed’. More usually Rooke’s role was as a conduit of information from the Admiralty to the Commons. Thus, on 1 Apr. 1699 he presented to the House an estimate of the navy debt, and on the 20th information on the officers of the new marine regiments.9

The end of the parliamentary session on 4 May saw a ministerial reshuffle involving the Admiralty. As early as 15 Apr. Vernon reported Rooke as saying that ‘as soon as the King comes back he will ask leave to retire’. This was an opening gambit in the manoeuvres which surrounded the disposition of the Admiralty, given Orford’s decision to resign the treasurership of the navy, if he could choose his successor and be instrumental in selecting the new Admiralty Board. Orford did not want Rooke, and suspected him of having encouraged Tory attacks upon him in the Commons. Vernon, however, thought that hounding Rooke from office would be a mistake; indeed, he believed that Rooke’s conduct, ‘while the prosecution of the Admiralty was depending’, had been satisfactory, especially given the temptation to earn the good opinion of the Tories by acting otherwise. The basis of the charge, which Rooke attributed to Sir Basil Dixwell, 2nd Bt.*, was that ‘I had been in all the cabals this winter with Sir C[hristophe]r M[usgrave], R[?obert] H[?arley], [Hon.] J[ohn] G[ranville]*, J[ohn Grobham] H[owe]*, etc., and that I had been underhand particularly concerned in the proceedings in Parliament against the Admiralty and my Lord Orford’. In a personal interview with the King, Rooke refuted allegations of disloyalty. He did not disclaim his old acquaintanceship with Musgrave, but did deny being in any private meetings with the others, and said he only exchanged pleasantries with Howe on account of his wife’s family. The meeting was probably crucial in determining the King’s resolution to keep Rooke in the Admiralty. Baulked from intruding the Marquess of Hartington (William Cavendish*) into the navy treasurership, and finding the King unwilling to part with Rooke, Orford resigned both places. By 23 May, Vernon could report that Rooke would stay at the Admiralty, and a new commission was issued on the last day of the month. Unfortunately, tragedy then struck Rooke, for in the middle of June his wife died of smallpox. By the end of June he had recovered his composure sufficiently to inform Vernon that if two new victualling commissioners with no experience were appointed, ‘the Admiralty would be obliged to make a representation’.10

In December 1699 Rooke was almost continually engaged in ferrying Admiralty documents to the Commons for consideration. His most important role, however, was in the debates on the naval estimates. In the committee of supply he ‘moved for 10,000 men to be employed this year at sea, but nothing was resolved’. The following day he reiterated this proposal, but in the end a compromise was accepted whereby 10,000 men would be employed during the summer months. On a list of members grouped according to ‘interests’ he was classed as a placeman. On 19 Feb. he fought a duel with (Sir) John Norris* over allegations that he had ‘signed a commission for Captain Wyvill out of fear’, wounding his opponent in the arm. In his capacity as an Admiralty commissioner he took part in the interrogation of Captain Kidd, noting perceptively that Kidd’s testimony ‘will not be very satisfactory to the House of Commons, since it is not what they looked for’. As early as April Rooke was known to be bound for the Baltic in command of a joint Anglo-Dutch fleet. Despite an illness, he recovered to take charge of the bombardment of Copenhagen, which helped to curb Danish aggression.11

Following a false rumour in October 1700 that Rooke was to be created Earl of Sittingbourne, he retained his Commons seat at the first election of 1701. Before Parliament met, he had married for the second time. As in the previous session, he presented Admiralty papers to the House. Although reported to be ill in April 1701, he was appointed to command the fleet, and was soon the recipient of a box of tracts from (Sir) John Philipps* (4th Bt.), aimed at the moral welfare of seamen. The summer and autumn saw conflict at the Admiralty Board owing to the fact that Vernon had refused to issue the order for the replacement of Lord Haversham (Sir John Thompson, 1st Bt.*), much ‘to the great disgusting of Sir George Rooke and the other admirals’. Eventually, Haversham quitted when Rooke refused to sit on the same board with him. At the beginning of November Vernon reported that Rooke ‘is come back a cripple, having the gout in both his knees’.12

Rooke’s involvement in the county election for Kent in November 1701 led him into conflict with William Colepeper of Hollingbourne, one of the Kentish Petitioners. Rooke’s circular letters to some freeholders cautioning them against choosing a man associated with a ‘scandalous, insolent and seditious’ petition, led to an altercation between the two men which seemed to have blown over, only for it to revive when Colepeper clashed with (Sir) Jacob Banks, (1st Bt.)* at Windsor in July 1703. Various people challenged Colepeper on Rooke’s behalf, and numerous lawsuits followed. In February 1704 three men were found guilty of assaulting Colepeper, whereupon Colepeper indicted Edward Knatchbull* and others, and eventually charged Rooke with aiding and abetting the assault. Years later Swift recalled the defence which exonerated Rooke from a charge of calling ‘a gentleman [presumably Colepeper] knave and villain’ by pointing out the original meaning of the words. In February 1706 Rooke sued Colepeper for scandal, claiming damages of £10,000, but was awarded only 20 marks.13

Rooke’s own election for Portsmouth in November 1701 was uneventful. However, he was active immediately the new Parliament sat, over the choice of Speaker. Despite the King’s known preference for Sir Thomas Littleton, 3rd Bt.*, Rooke and the Navy Board were reported to be ‘violently against’ Littleton. L’Hermitage thought that the gist of the problem was the incompatibility of holding the Speakership with the treasurership of the navy. Instead Rooke ‘made a speech for Mr Harley which is much commended’, and which one Member claimed ‘occasioned Sir Thomas his losing being Speaker’. The Earl of Shaftesbury (Anthony Ashley*, Lord Ashley), saw this as presaging a period of coldness from the King, ‘which he owes wholly to his own false servants, viz. Sir George Rooke, the Churchills and others of their side who acted violently and spoke against his interest’. Not surprisingly, therefore, Harley classed Rooke as a Tory on his list of the new Parliament. On 12 Jan. he presented to the Commons a series of accounts relating to the navy. The appointment of the Earl of Pembroke (Hon. Thomas Herbert†) as lord high admiral in late January 1702 was perceived by some as a device ‘to get rid of’ Rooke, but it saw no diminution of his activities in naval affairs, partly no doubt because Pembroke was ‘no seaman’. Rooke spent a considerable amount of time in February commuting between London, his home at St. Lawrence and the ports, to check on the fleet. On 26 Feb. he recorded staying at the home of Lord Strangford (Philip Smythe†) perhaps en route for Rochester, as he is listed as voting on that day for the Commons’ motion vindicating the House’s proceedings in the impeachments of William III’s ministers.14

The reconstitution of the Admiralty, with Prince George as its nominal head, saw Rooke take a leading role in the Prince’s advisory council, with enhanced status as vice-admiral of England. During the summer of 1702 Rooke was engaged in extensive naval operations in the Mediterranean: a projected assault on Cadiz, which never took place, was followed by the destruction of the Spanish treasure fleet in Vigo Bay. In between these actions Rooke had been ‘overwhelmed with grief’ at the death of his second wife, shortly after the birth of their son. Reaction to the failure at Cadiz was unfavourable, particularly among the Whigs, whom Henry St. John II* thought ‘busy in making their advantage of this ill success to mine Sir George Rooke; they have condemned him already, and according to their laudable custom filled every corner of the town with clamour and lies’. Vernon hoped that the news of Vigo would silence Rooke’s critics, and all seemed set fair on 10 Nov. 1702 when the Commons voted thanks to Ormond and Rooke for ‘great and signal services . . . performed for this nation, both by sea and land’. On the 21st Speaker Harley was able to express these sentiments to Rooke in person, making the political point that ‘he did not doubt but the French had by this put him down in the black list for taking French and Spanish gold and silver’, an allusion to a recent black list of those opposed to war with France which Rooke was not in fact on. However, hopes that ‘Ormond will be discreter than to complain of Sir George Rooke, who is very much condemned by the landsmen that come from thence’ were thwarted as the Duke ‘is governed by people that will incline him to accuse’. Although Ormond made no formal charge against Rooke, his widely known views encouraged Whigs in the Lords to launch an inquiry into the summer’s campaign. Rooke was called on several occasions, being grilled by Torrington and Orford in particular, but the hostile report subsequently produced was toned down by the full House because both the Tories and the Court were keen to protect Rooke. His only notable legislative undertaking was to assist the drafting of a bill concerning the development of the royal docks.15

February 1703 saw Rooke inspecting the ‘spring’s work at Chatham’, before visiting St. Lawrence to ‘put my own little private affairs in as good order as I can’. Rooke refused command of the Mediterranean expedition on the grounds that it was too small for one of his rank. Although reported on 7 May to be ‘so ill that it is feared he will hardly live’, Rooke took command of the fleet in home waters. After a short tour of duty, he travelled to Bath in June, staying there until August. On 14 Aug. Lord Treasurer Godolphin (Sidney†) informed Harley that Rooke was ‘in very good health but in so ill humour, and so discontent, that I could not help thinking some industry must have been used with him to bring it to that degree, as to talk of quitting’. Godolphin’s hope was that the Cabinet would immediately give Rooke the task of conveying the Archduke Charles to his Spanish kingdom, and thereby avoid his resignation. The Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†), too, was concerned about Rooke’s disenchantment, noting that the admiral ‘is not so warm as I could wish. However, I should be sorry he quitted, especially if George Churchill* were to succeed him’.16

Rooke embarked for Holland to attend Archduke Charles at the beginning of October. He did not return until late December, thereby missing part of the parliamentary session. Indeed, on 27 Nov., in a committee on manning the fleet, Sir Richard Onslow, 3rd Bt.*, very much regretted that the House could not have the benefit of Rooke’s assistance. According to Boyer, Rooke set sail early in January 1704 for Portugal only to be driven back to Spithead by storms, much to the chagrin of some foreign envoys who blamed Rooke’s dilatory departure from Spithead. During Rooke’s enforced stay in port, he was outraged by the promotion to flag rank of William Whetstone, ahead of his own first captain (Sir) James Wishart*. For Rooke this was a resigning matter: ‘I can never think of going more to sea, unless I have the satisfaction and justice to my captain: for I cannot bear so many repeated slights and neglects of myself and my services.’ News of his threat certainly seeped out, for a newsletter of 3 Feb. commented that whatever the rumours, ‘there is a party that makes it their business to bespatter the reputation of that great and excellent officer and would fain talk him out of his command’. Even though Rooke managed to ensure that both captains received flag commissions dated the same day, he still suggested to Nottingham that he might be excused the task of transporting the Spanish king, ‘for it is my resolution not to acquiesce in those neglects and affronts I have lately received’. Perhaps it was Rooke’s close relationship with Nottingham that enabled the secretary to include him in a forecast of supporters over his handling of the Scotch Plot.17

Rooke’s summer campaign began inauspiciously when he failed to prevent the Comte de Toulouse from getting the French fleet into Toulon. This generated a certain amount of criticism, most particularly from Defoe, who provocatively described Rooke as ‘a man that never once fought since he was an admiral; that always embraced the party that opposed the government, and has constantly favoured, preferred and kept company with the high furious Jacobite party and has filled the fleet with them’. However, during the summer Rooke first commanded the fleet which helped to capture Gibraltar and then fought the French at Malaga. Reactions to the latter event were very much coloured by party preference, with some Tories seeking to give Malaga the same prominence as Blenheim. Certainly, the Tories revelled in Whig discomfiture at the warm reception accorded to Rooke by the Queen upon his return, and Defoe (a friend of William Colepeper) found himself threatened with arrest for his injudicious comments published before the admiral’s victories. Again, rumours abounded that Rooke would be elevated to the peerage. At the head of the ministry, both Godolphin and Marlborough were less inclined to join in the clamour. The former noted that ‘it seems to have been a sort of drawn battle’, while the latter wrote to Pensionary Heinsius: ‘I find by yours that you are satisfied with the battle at sea; I will own to you very frankly I am not, but the less is said of this the better’. The parties were not so restrained, however: there was ‘hardly a coffee house where his battle is not fought over again’.18

The scene was thus set for a nationwide party battle, with congratulatory addresses along party lines pouring in to the Queen, and Tory corporations giving equal (or near equal) prominence to Rooke as to Marlborough. For Defoe, this use of Rooke stemmed from ‘some hopes . . . that their High Church party will revive under his patronage’. The conflict spread further: the upper house of the Canterbury Convocation would not accede to requests from the lower house for an address naming Rooke (a dispute mirrored in the Irish convocation in the spring of 1705), and no one felt able to second the motion of the Earl of Abingdon (Montagu Venables-Bertie*) in the Lords on 7 Nov. for a ‘compliment’ to be paid to Rooke in ‘acknowledgment of his services’. Rooke was reported to have attended a pre-sessional meeting of Tories at the Fountain Tavern, where the possibility of a new occasional conformity bill was discussed. His name appears on Robert Harley’s lobbying list on the Tack as the Member designated to approach (Sir) Jacob Banks, who had married the mother of Rooke’s second wife. In the division on 28 Nov. 1704 Rooke did not vote for the Tack and may have been absent owing to illness, for on 14 Nov. he was reported to be ‘dangerously ill in town’, and on 12 Dec. he was ‘under the hands of Charles Bernard, who is cutting him and taking chalk out of his joints’. The Journals show that Rooke presented the navy estimates to the Commons on 7 Nov. 1704 and was first-named on 6 Dec. to the committee to draft a bill enabling Lewis Maidwell to establish a school of navigation, although it was in fact Littleton who presented the bill.19

Rumours abounded at the start of 1705 as to Rooke’s fate. One newsletter report had him resigning his flag, while retaining the more honorific title of vice-admiral of England. This squares with Sir Clowdesley Shovell’s* view that ‘Rooke has done with the sea and I shall command the fleet this summer’. Clearly, ill-health had a bearing on this speculation, but it probably also reflected Rooke’s disenchantment with politics. On 10 Feb. he was reported to have recovered from his ‘long indisposition’ and had waited on the Queen. Only a few days later a newsletter report had him retiring to his Kentish seat determined ‘not [to] intermeddle with any public affairs’. Boyer, too, explained his retirement in terms of ‘the Low Church party gaining an ascendancy at court’: Rooke, ‘who was of another kidney’, being laid aside. In March it was again rumoured that he would be given a peerage, but in May 1705 he was re-elected for Portsmouth. However, when a new council under Prince George was appointed in June, Rooke was omitted. He was nevertheless classed as a placeman on a list of 1705, and as a ‘High Church courtier’ in another analysis of the House.20

Tories believed that a Whig ‘whispering campaign’ had paved the way for Rooke’s loss of his office. It is perhaps hardly surprising, given Rooke’s decision not to go to sea and his withdrawal from the Prince’s council, that he felt able to vote on 25 Oct. 1705 against the Court candidate for Speaker, even while still technically a placeman. On 17 Dec. 1705 he received leave of absence for health reasons. This certainly proved to be convenient, for on 26 Dec. he was party to an agreement which paved the way for the marriage of Edward Harvey’s* son to Rooke’s sister-in-law, Frances Luttrell. Rooke’s own third marriage took place in January 1706, to the sister of Edward Knatchbull, a lady reported to be ‘a great fortune in Kent’. In June he refused to sign the Kentish address, prompting a debate on whether he should remain a Privy Councillor. There was further comment when the High Churchman Dr Stanhope preached a thanksgiving sermon which, rather than laud the achievements of Marlborough, held up ‘the taking of Gibraltar as the most glorious performance in this war’. In October Luttrell reported that Rooke’s commission as vice-admiral of England was to be revoked, and on the reconstitution of the Privy Council at the Union, Rooke was quietly dropped along with other Tories.21

Henceforth, Rooke appears to have taken little interest in the political scene at Westminster but he was still active in Kent, attending a meeting of Tories in August 1707 to decide candidates for the county at the next general election. He was classed as a Tory in two lists of early 1708. By now his health was beginning to fail, and in 1708, without the backing of the Admiralty interest, he gave up his seat at Portsmouth. In November he was described as having been ‘very ill but is better, though some think he can’t hold out long in that declining condition’; nor did he, for he expired ‘of the stomach’ on 24 Jan. 1709.22

Rooke’s monumental inscription dwelt extensively on his naval triumphs before stressing his

singular piety to the Church, his fidelity to William the great, and Anne the good, ever most religiously observed . . . God did not grant him swelling titles, nor envied riches, nor the empty applause of the vulgar; but the pleasures of a sedate mind, the love of all good men, retirement in his paternal inheritance . . .

To Arthur Onslow†, however, Rooke’s failing was ambition:

he aimed at the Garter, and would have worn it well; for he had a good person, and was more of a man of fashion, and fitter for a court than for anyone almost of his profession, yet he was very able in that, and of great courage. He was very high in his party, and very high for it.

Rooke was succeeded by his son George.23

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Stuart Handley


  • 1. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc.), 101; Bor. Sess. Pprs. 1653–88 (Portsmouth Recs. Ser.), 112; BL, Althorp mss, Robert Crawford* to Mq. of Halifax (William Savile*), 15 June 1699; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 527; vi. 6; HMC Cowper, ii. 417; iii. 13; Post Man, 21–23 Jan. 1701; The Gen. iv. 206.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1702–3, p. 483; Luttrell, vi. 17.
  • 3. Add. 10120, f. 236; 42650, f. 102; A. Savidge, Q. Anne’s Bounty, 124.
  • 4. R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 372; Canterbury Freemen Roll ed. Cowper, 323; info. from Medway Area Archs.; Southampton RO, Southampton bor. recs. SC3/1, f. 251.
  • 5. Boyer, Anne Annals, viii. 364; Marlborough– Godolphin Corresp. 788.
  • 6. Arch. Cant. xxiii. 76; CSP Dom. 1680–1, pp. 433, 505–6; 1682, pp. 215, 250, 337–8; July–Sept. 1683, pp. 36, 410; 1685, p. 401; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1882), 346; N. and Q. ser. 3, vi. 43; Ailesbury Mems. 212; Cam. Soc. n.s. xlvi. 31; Mariner’s Mirror, lxxiii. 187; Boyer, viii. 363.
  • 7. Add. 47128, ff. 19, 21; J. D. Davies, Gents. and Tarpaulins, 26; Cat. Pepysian Lib. ed. Tanner, iii. 118, 150, 285; HMC Dartmouth, i. 237; Luttrell, ii. 82; HMC Finch, iii. 383, 385–6, 395; J. Ehrman, Navy in War of Wm. III, 360.
  • 8. Ehrman, 512; Add. 17677 PP, f. 391; HMC Buccleuch, ii. 301, 327, 340, 345, 356; BL, Trumbull Misc. mss 32, Rooke to Sir William Trumbull*, 9 May 1696; Althorp mss, Crawford to Halifax, 22 Aug., 19 Sept., 1 Oct. 1696, Rooke to same, 26, 27 Sept. 3, 9 Oct. 1696; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. 56, 74–75.
  • 9. Luttrell, iv. 220; G. Holmes, Augustan Eng. 279; Macaulay, Hist. Eng. vi. 2748; Trans. Birmingham Arch. Soc. lix. 54; Vernon– Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 257; Northants. RO, Montagu (Boughton) mss 47/138, 140, Vernon to Shrewsbury, 31 Jan., 4 Feb. 1699; Cam. Misc. xxix. 393–6; H. Horwitz, Parl. and Pol. Wm. III, 252.
  • 10. Horwitz, 257–8; Montagu (Boughton) mss 47/171, 183, Vernon to Shrewsbury, 15 Apr., 13 May 1699; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 272–3, 280–1, 291; Althorp mss, Rooke to Halifax, 13 May 1699; HMC Bath, iii. 352; Add. 40774, ff. 70–71.
  • 11. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 394, 396; iii. 18, 32; Montagu (Boughton) mss 48/35–6, Vernon to Shrewsbury, 20, 22 Feb. 1699[–1700]; Luttrell, iv. 616, 639–40; Add. 17677 UU, f. 164; S. B. Baxter, Wm. III, 378.
  • 12. Luttrell, iv. 708; v. 36; Navy Recs. Soc. ix. 119; NLW, Picton Castle mss 579, note by Philipps; HMC Cowper, ii. 438, 442–4; Add. 15895, f. 147.
  • 13. A True State of the Difference between Sir George Rooke and William Colepeper; Add. 17677 WWW, f. 281; Luttrell, v. 392, 510; vi. 17; Swift Works ed. Davis, x. 109–10.
  • 14. Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/2/4, James* to Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. I*, 30 Dec. 1701; D/Lons/W2/2/5, same to same, 15 Jan. 1701[–2]; Add. 17677 XX, f. 255; Atterbury Epistolary Corresp. i.60; SRO, Leven and Melville mss GD 26/13/120, [–] to Ld. Leven, 1 Jan. 1702; PRO/30/24/20/129–30; Navy Recs. Soc. ix. 145–6; Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 107.
  • 15. Luttrell, v. 172, 175; CSP Dom. 1702–3, p. 25; HMC Cowper, iii. 13; BL, Trumbull Add. mss 133, St. John to Trumbull, 13 Oct. 1702; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 229; Strathmore mss at Glamis Castle, box 70, folder 2, bdle. 4, newsletter 24 Nov. 1702; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 146, 148; Nicolson Diaries ed. Jones and Holmes, 185, 188–9, 196, 202, 205–6; Add. 70075, newsletter 26 Jan. 1702–3; Burnet, v. 59–60; Tindal, Continuation, i. 575.
  • 16. Add. 29591, ff. 191, 193; Marlborough– Godolphin Corresp. 153, 240; Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/O54/2, Richard Warre to Alexander Stanhope, 7 May 1703; Luttrell, v. 312, 326; HMC Portland, iv. 65.
  • 17. Luttrell, v. 346, 392; HMC Portland, iv. 78; Navy Recs. Soc. ciii. 184; Boyer, ii. 228, 229; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 245; D. A. Baugh, Brit. Naval Admin. in Age of Walpole, 129; Add. 29589, f. 347; 70076, newsletter 3 Feb. 1703–4; CSP Dom. 1703–4, p. 528.
  • 18. Add. 70271, Harley to George Stepney, 4/15 July 1704; HMC Cowper, iii. 38; Epistolary Curiosities ed. Warner, ii. 124–5; HMC Portland, viii. 135–9; iv. 136–8; Bodl. Ballard 31, f. 34; 33, f. 61; Folger Shakespeare Lib. Newdigate newsletters 28 Sept., 7 Oct. 1704; HMC Bath, i. 62–63; ii. 178; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 372
  • 19. Oldmixon, Hist. Addresses, 13; Burnet, v. 162; HMC Portland, iv. 137; Nicolson Diaries, 217, 220; Bodl. Rawl. lett. 92, ff. 268–9; Carstares SP, 730; Add. 70264, address; 32076, ff. 67–68; Univ. Kansas Spencer Research Lib. mss C163, Sir William Simpson to John Methuen*, 7 Nov. 1704; HMC Buccleuch, ii. 703; Bull. IHR, xli. 178; xxxiv. 95; Newdigate newletters 14 Nov. 1702; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 181.
  • 20. Newdigate newsletters 6 Jan., 15 Feb., 16 Mar. 1705; Navy Recs. Soc. lxvii. 65; HMC Portland, iv. 164; Boyer, viii. 364.
  • 21. HMC Portland, iv. 189; BL, Trumbull Alphab. mss 53, John Bridges to Trumbull, 26 Oct. 1705; PCC 2 Lane; Luttrell, vi. 6, 97, 174; Newdigate newletter 27 Jan. 1706; HMC Bath, i. 83; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 624, 788; Staffs. RO, Paget mss D643/K/3/6, R. Acherley to [?Ld. Paget], 18 July 1706.
  • 22. Add. 61496, f. 92; 47025, f. 104; 70420, Dyer’s newsletter 20 Jan. 1709.
  • 23. Boyer, Pol. State, lviii. 502–3; Burnet, v. 59; PCC 2 Lane.