This unusual and interesting surname is a patronymic from the name "Tonk", itself being a diminutive of the personal name Thomas, an Aramaic name meaning "twin". The surname is found mainly in the Midlands, and is first recorded in the 16th Century (see below). In the modern idiom the variants include Tunks, Tonkin, Tunkes, Tunks, Tunckes, etc.. One Thomas Tunckes was buried at St. Antholin, London in 1603. Thomas, son of William and Mary Tunks, was christened at Fenny Drayton, Leicestershire, on April 15th 1744, and William, son of Peter and Ann Tonks, was christened at St. Andrew, Holborn on October 28th 1766. John Tonks married Mary Bardwell at St. George, Hanover Square, London in 1789. One Thomas Tonkin (1678-1742) was a Cornish historian having studied at Queen's College, Oxford, and Lincoln's Inn. He lived on his Cornish estates, collected topographical and genealogical information, and projected a history of Cornwall. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alice Tunks, (christened), which was dated 1519, at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, London, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Good King Hal", 1509-1547. 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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