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The name Rookwood is used in V for Vendetta (A former fingerman) and Harry Potter (A lesser DeathEater). Is this a fairly common British name or does it have some kind of hidden meaning?

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  • I think it's an interesting question. Given that JKR has a penchant for being somewhat on the nose with character names occasionally, it's worth asking since the name has appeared elsewhere. Upvote from me
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 15:23
  • You might want to edit this to ask a single question each about the names Rookwood in V for Vendetta and the name Rookwood in HP (since the use of the name in each is different)
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 16:47
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    I am an American asking about the name Rookwood using the two examples. I was just curious if there was some cultural hidden meaning... Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 18:47
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    @JavaMikeMoore - I appreciate that, but there are actually three questions here; 1) "Why did Alan Moore choose the name William Rookwood?", 2) "Why did JK Rowling choose the name Augustus Rookwood?" and 3) "Did JKR choose the name Rookwood based on V for Vendetta or for some other reason?".
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 19:16
  • If you ask them as separate questions, you'll get a full answer for the first two and then find there's really no need for the third.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 19:17

3 Answers 3

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V for Vendetta

The William Rookwood in the film V for Vendetta was chosen to honour(?) Ambrose Rookwood, one of the conspirators in the original 1605 Gunpowder plot and executed accordingly after the plot was uncovered.

Ambrose Rookwood and William Rookwood Woodcut of Ambrose Rookwood next to a photo of William Rookwood; both wear similar hats and beards

Rookwood's fellow "black-baggers" in the film are described as Percy and Keyes, named after co-conspirators Thomas Percy and Robert Keyes. Given that V fancies himself a modern Guido Fawkes it seems awfully coincidental that these three names would be found working together and it certainly beggars the question as to whether they existed in the first place or were merely inventions of V and his hacking of the national computer.


Harry Potter

Although the Augustus Rookwood (formerly Algernon Rookwood) in Harry Potter is supposed by the HP Wiki to have the same basis as above,

The surname "Rookwood" may also come from Ambrose Rookwood, one of the conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

a less generous reader might imagine that J.K. Rowling chose the name after she was prominently criticised in the press by a headteacher named Carol Rookwood who described the books as having satanic themes and banned them from being read in her religious school. This occurred during the later stages of writing, several months before Goblet of Fire was published.

Carol Rookwood, the head, has ruled the book "inappropriate" for the school's 103 children because they portrayed witches and wizards as "imaginary, cuddly and fun".

She said: "As a Church of England-aided primary school Christianity is very central to what we do in school and our teaching. The Bible is very clear and consistent from Genesis to Revelations that wizards and wizardry, devils and demons are real and they do exist. They are powerful and they are dangerous and God's people have nothing to do with them. That's our base line."

The Independent: Church school bans Harry Potter books

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  • @martha - While I appreciate minor corrections to spelling and accuracy of quotes, please don't edit my use of English; theguardian.com/media/mind-your-language/2010/may/24/…
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 18, 2019 at 21:16
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    That link doesn't support "beggars the question", because there's no such expression. There's style, and then there's incorrect use of language.
    – Martha
    Commented Feb 18, 2019 at 21:35
  • @Martha - When everyone in the world uses an expression differently than the dictionary definition, the dictionary changes.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 18, 2019 at 21:36
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    Yes, the dictionary changes for the expression that people actually use, which is "begs the question". None of this has anything at all to do with your "beggars the question", which is utter nonsense and should be corrected.
    – Martha
    Commented Feb 18, 2019 at 22:28
  • @Martha - Correcting people's use of colloquial English falls under the same heading as correcting Americans for not being able to spell properly. It's not "nice" and shouldn't be done.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 18, 2019 at 23:19
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There doesn't seem to be a hidden meaning.

The name Rookwood belongs to the early history of Britain, it's origins lie with the Anglo-Saxons. It is a product of their having lived in a wooded area with distinct rocky terrain. Rookwood is a topographic surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties.
- Rookwood - House of Names

As far as i can tell none of this applies to Augustus Rookwood, so my best guess would be that his name is a coincidence or it applied to one of his ancestors somehow.

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Having looked at the character of Rookwood in both media, there is very little to link them, and what does is likely by coincidence.

Augustus Rookwood is a Death Eater who worked as an Unspeakable in the Ministry of Magic who turned into a spy for Voldemort during the First Wizarding War. He escaped Azkaban during Voldemort's second rise to power and was likely returned to prison after the Battle of Hogwarts.

William Rookwood is an informant to inspector Eric Finch, providing him with inside details about the government of the time. It's later revealed that

Rookwood has been long dead and Finch spoke to V in disguise.

Except for providing government intelligence to people there's really nothing to link the characters, or even a parallel to be drawn between their motives. While the surname Rookwood isn't particularly common, it's very likely just a coincidence.

You might be interested to read this article if you want to know more about the names Rowling used in Harry Potter, or visit this website to search for how common different forenames and surnames are.

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