Hooker


Select Hooker Surname Genealogy

The Hooker surname seems to have derived from the Old English word hocere, an occupational name for a maker of hooks.  This was a skilled occupation in olden times.  They were not made as today from iron or steel, but were fashioned using heating and steaming from animal bone. 

Others have suggested that Hooker, like Hook or Hooke, might be topographical, describing someone who lived near a headland or a spur or bend in a river
.

Select Hooker Resources on The Internet

Select Hooker Ancestry

EnglandThe surname may have had its origins in East Anglia.  Osmundus Hocere was recorded in Ely, Cambridgeshire as early as 975.  The spelling became Hoker and then Hooker.  The first prominent family of that name, however, was to be found in Devon in SW England. 

Devon
.  The Devon Hooker family was originally Hooker alias Vowell.  Vowell was the male line from south Wales; Hooker the family name (probably from Cambridgeshire) of the female heiress who had married into the family in the 1450’s.

Descendants here included:
  • John Hooker, the first Chamberlain of Exeter and a historian of the town.  
  • John’s nephew Richard Hooker, known as “the Judicious,” an influential Protestant theologian of the late 1500’s.  His statue is to be found outside Exeter Cathedral.  
  • John’s son the Rev. Zachary Hooker of Caerhayes in Cornwall and the line from his son Valentine in Crediton, Devon.  There were later Nonconformist Hooker ministers at Crediton and at Chumleigh.  
  • and Joseph Hooker who migrated from Exeter in the 1770’s and set himself up as a wool-stapler in Norwich.  From his line came the famous father-and-son botanist family of Kew, William Jackson Hooker and Joseph Dalton Hooker. 
Elsewhere.  Hookers date from about 1500 in Leicestershire.  Thomas Hooker was a farm manager on the Digby estate in the mid-1500’s.  He evidently was a man of some substance as his will of 1559 reveals.  His grandson Thomas, born in Tilton parish in 1586, was a Puritan preacher of considerable renown.  Persecuted by Archbishop William Laud for non-conformity, he departed England first to Holland and then on the Griffin to New England in 1633. 

William Hooker was first sighted at
Berkhamstead in Hertfordshire in 1622.  His son Sir William Hooker prospered as a grocer in London and was its mayor in 1673.  He lived in some splendor in Greenwich. 

His coat of arms was the same as that borne by the Hookers who acquired Broad Oak at Brenchley in Kent in 1698, although they probably had different antecedents.  The Brenchley forebear here may instead have been Thomas Hooker, born around 1620 at Oldberry Hill near Sevenoaks.  Hookers were to remain in residence at Brenchley during the 18th and 19th centuries.

“Samuel Hooker was well known at Broad Oak for his country roses.  In 1848 he produced a new gladiolus species which he named Gladiolus x Brenchleyensis.

The architect John Marshall Hooker was born at Brenchley in 1829.


John Hooker, related to this family, was the owner of Tonbridge Castle in Kent in the 1730's.  His son Thomas lost the family fortune sometime in the 1780's when their gunpowder mill blew up.  His grandson Thomas then became the vicar at Rottingdean in Sussex, holding that position from 1792 until his death in 1838.  During that time he supplemented his income by acting as the lookout man for the smugglers who used Rottingdean as their base.

America. 
The Rev. Thomas Hooker, who arrived in 1633, was a towering figure in the early development of colonial New England.  Known today as “the father of Connecticut,” he had founded the colony at Hartford after dissenting with the Puritan leaders in Massachusetts. 

His descendant line, via his son the Rev. Samuel Hooker the minister at Farmington, is large and was covered in Edward Hooker’s 1908 book The Descendants of Rev. Thomas Hooker. 
Samuel and his wife Mary raised ten sons and two daughters. 

Some of their descendants based themselves in Hartford, as merchants in the firm of Hooker & Chaffee.  This company provided supplies to the American forces during the Revolutionary War.  Captain James Hooker fought in that war and it is his house, built around 1772, that is still standing in Hartford.  His line led later to Union General Joseph Hooker, nicknamed “Fighting Joe,” during the Civil War. 


Other lines from Samuel: 
  • via his son Nathaniel led to three Hooker brothers – Horace, James, and Henry – who settled in Rochester, New York in the 1820’s.  
  • via his youngest son Henry led to Samuel Hooker, a carpenter, who migrated from Massachusetts to Albany, New York in 1772.  His son Philip became a prominent Albany architect.    
Another Samuel descendant was Seth Hooker who moved to New Hampshire in the 1780’s, settling in Hinsdale.  Two of his descendants headed west to California in the 1860’s: 
  • Henry Clay Hooker, born in 1828, who migrated to Arizona territory where he established the Sierra Bonita Ranch in 1872.  It became one of the largest ranches in Arizona and was held by family members for several generations.  
  • and John Daggett Hooker, born ten years later, who settled in Los Angeles in 1878.  There he initiated the building of the 100-inch Hooker Telescope, completed in 1917, one of the most famous astronomical telescopes of the 20th century.
Ira Allen Hooker and his family had come west earlier, leaving Missouri by wagon train on the Oregon Trail in 1848 and settling in what was to become Polk county, Oregon.  Ira was a descendant of Matthew Hooker who had arrived in Massachusetts as a young boy in the 1640’s.  Ira, born in Vermont, had lived in New York and southern Illinois before heading west. 

Hookers in the South
.  William Hooker was in Virginia by the 1680’s and died in Chowan county, North Carolina in 1717.  Later Hookers of this family migrated to Tennessee.  The sons of Thomas and Sarah Hooker in Tennessee all ended up in Texas: 
  • James Hooker, born in 1807, set off by covered wagon for Missouri in 1833 and later made his home in what was to become Hunt county, Texas.  There he founded Hooker’s Community on Hooker’s Ridge and built the area’s first steam mill.  He became a judge and state legislator.  
  • Thomas Hooker, born in 1821, migrated as a young man to Mississippi where he became a Baptist minister.  He moved to Hunt county in 1854.
  • and three other Hooker brothers also joined James and Thomas there. 
German Hookers.  Some Hookers in America were of German origin.  Johann Hockertz came to America with his family in 1846 and settled in Tippecanoe county, Indiana.  Their son George Hooker fought in the Civil War and had a difficult life afterwards. 

“Never wealthy, he worked hard his entire life.  He lost everything he had in a 100-year-flood and had to file for bankruptcy.  Despite having filed for bankruptcy, he worked hard to pay back the debt so that his wife would have no shame in her small community.  He died poor in 1921 while checking his fishing nets for food.”  

New Zealand
.  The Hooker and Vercoe families left St. Just in Cornwall on the Timandra in 1842 for a new life in New Zealand.  They made their home in New Plymouth, Taranaki and are among the longest established families there.  John Hooker who came there was a blacksmith, Henry and Nathaniel stone masons.  John Hooker, an Australian-based writer in the 1970’s, was a descendant.


Select Hooker Miscellany

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


Select Hooker Names

Richard Hooker, known as “the Judicious,” was an influential Anglican theologian of the late 1500’s.
Thomas Hooker
was a prominent Puritan in early New England, known today as "the father of Connecticut."  He was one of the great preachers of his time.
Sir Joseph Hooker
 was a noted British botanist and explorer of the 19th century.

LJ Hooker
, born Tingyou of Chinese heritage, built up the largest real estate company in Australia after World War Two.
John Lee Hooker
 was a well-known American blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist from Mississippi

Select Hookers Today
  • 4,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 6,000 in America (most numerous in Texas) 
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in New Zealand)

Select Surname List


For other surnames check the select surname list where there are to be found the history and genealogy for more than 800 common and notable surnames in the English-speaking world.