This unusual and long-established surname, of Anglo-Saxon origin, is found chiefly in Shropshire, Kent, Lancaster and the West Riding of Yorkshire, and has four possible sources, the first being a locational name from places in the above mentioned counties, derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "tong" meaning "situation by a fork in a road or river". The second source is occupational for a maker or user of tongs, from the Olde English "tonge", meaning "tongue". Peter Tonge, a shoemaker, is recorded in the Wills of Chester in 1572. The third source is topographical, coming from the Olde English "tonge", describing "someone living on a tongue of land". Finally, the surname may be from a nickname for a chatterbox or a scold "tunge" meaning "tongue". Variations of the spelling in the modern idiom include: Tonge, Tonghe, Tunge, Tongs and Tongue. Recordings from English Church Registers include: the marriage of Christopher Tonge and Margaret Gilbert at St. George the Martyr, Canterbury, Kent, on December 17th 1598, and the marriage of Charles Tonge and Mary Hancocke at St. Dionis Blackchurch, London, circa 1695. A Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name is an azure shield, a bend per bend gold and silver cotised of the last between six martlets of the second. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Wiluricus Tunge, which was dated 1188, recorded at the Abbey of Bury St. Edwards, Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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