This is an English and sometimes Irish surname. The spellings are the often the same but the origins are quite different. In England the derivation is probably from the 12th century 'ton' plus the suffix 'er'. The general translation is one who came from a farm or hamlet, but worked somewhere else! Recorded in the spellings of Towner, Toner, Tonner, and Tooner, the original meaning was probably much more specific, and perhaps referred to a worker who was a contractor, at a time when most people lived at their place of work. However one of the earliest recordings is that of Andrew Le Toner, of Pinchbeck in Suffolk, in the year 1273, and this is most definitely a job descriptive entry. Later examples of recordings include John Joners, a witness at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on November 20th 1706, Thomas Tooner, who married Elizabeth Burnell at St. Sepulchre, London, on October 26th 1714, and Fanny Sarah Tonner, christened at St Mary Lambeth, London, on March 7th 1821. In Ireland the name is unusually of Norse-Viking origins. It derives from 'Tomar', the personal name of a Scandinavian King of Dublin in the 10th century. The name was then 'gaelicised' to create a form of patronymic as O' Tomhrair, the descendant of Tomer. It seems that in the late medieval period the 'm' was transposed to 'n'. Be that as it may the clan held considerable lands on the River Foyle and amongst the early recordings is that of Patrick O'tHonyr, a priest who was excommunicated in 1435, and John Thoner, the Bishop of Lismore in 1554 - 1565. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugh Tunere, which was dated 1242, in the Court of Fees of the county of Warwickshire, during the reign of King Henry lll, known as 'The Frenchman', 1216 - 1272. 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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