Recorded in several forms including Tangye, Tengay and Tungay, this rare surname is English but of pre 8th century Norman-French origin. Translating as "Firedog" it derives from an early Breton personal name Tanci, composed of the elements "tan", meaning fire, and "ci", a dog. It is said that the name was first borne by a 6th century Christian saint who was associated with St. Paul, The Aurelian. The name was introduced into England at the time of the famous Conquest of 1066, and was reintroduced into Cornwall independently at a later date. The personal name was first recorded in Brittany in 859 - 865, and in the 12th century the name is found in England in districts where Bretons are known to have settled, usually as Tengi or Tingi. The surname was first recorded in the early 13th century and early recordings include: Alexander Tingy and William Tengy, both recorded as witnesses in the Assize Rolls of Cambridgeshire in 1260 whilst the christening of Pawle Tangye, the son of George Tangye, on October 12th 1589 at Gwithian, Cornwall. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Tengi, which was dated 1202, in the "Assize Rolls" of Lincolnshire, during the reign of King John, 1199 - 1216. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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