Recorded in several spelling forms including Thundercliffe, Thunnercliff, and Thunnerclef, this is a very rare surname of English origins. It is locational, and derives from a "reduced" village called Thundercliffe, near the town of Rotherham, in the county of Yorkshire. The surviving hamlet was grouped around Thundercliffe Grange, believed to be a former seat of the earl of Effingham. Research suggests that the original village was mainly cleared in the early 18th century to enable the Grange to be built. Surviving church recordings also suggest that in consequence of this destruction, some people left the area and moved mainly into the adjoining counties of Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, and even as far south as Worcestershire, taking as their surname the name of their former homestead. Spelling being at best erratic, and local dialects very thick, soon lead to the development of "sounds like" spellings. The explanation for the meaning of the name is probably to be found in the pre 7th century Olde English words "tynder clef". These describe a narrow valley (clef) from which combustionable material was brought. This may have referred to coal, as the village is in a major coal mining area. Earlly examples of the surname recording include: John Thundercliffe of Sturton cum Fenton, Nottinghamshire, a witness there on March 10th 1725, and Elizabeth Thundercliffe, at Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire, on October 17th 1814.
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