Recorded in several spellings including the patronymics Tonkes, Tonkes, the diminutives Tonkin, Tonkyn, and the double diminutives Tonkins and Tonkinson, this is an English surname. It is said to be of 12th century Crusader origins and a derivative of the Roman personal name 'Antonius'. This developed into the English Antony or Anthony and the short form Ton or Tony. Although the name Antonius is not from the Holy Land, it is one which is associated with early Christianity. As such it was one of a large group of personal names which returning knights and pilgrims brought back with them to Northern Europe and gave to the ir children partly in commemoration of the father's pilgrimage, and partly because Christian names was an early form of 'political correctness'. The surname followed a century or so behind the introduction of the Christian name, and became increasingly popular in the late Medieval Period of history. The name translates as 'The Praiseworthy One', a meaning which no doubt, helped its popularity. The first known recording of the surname in any form in England is probably that of John Antoyne in the tax rolls of Worcestershire in the year 1275. Amongst the very earliest of surviving recordings in the registers of the city of London is that of James Tonkinson, a christening witness at the church of St Anothlins, in the city of London in 1569, whilst Thomas Tonkin appears in the history of the county of Cornwall in 1678. This latter recording was during the reign of King Charles II, known as 'The Merry Monarch', 1660 - 1685. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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