Recorded as Tankin, Tenkin, Tonkin, Tunkin, Tunking, Tunkings, Tunkis, and possibly others, this is a rare English diminutive surname. It is derived from the Roman personal name 'Antonius', of which the anglicised form is Antony or Anthony and the short form Toni or Tony of which this is the diminutive. The suffix '-kin' meaning 'son of (An)tony' or perhaps 'Little Tony'. The personal name is first recorded in the England in the 12th century, and whilst associated with the famous crusades, is not strictly speaking from the Holy Land.It is however a name which is associated with early Christianity. The surname followed a century or so later and became more popular in the late Medieval or Tudor Period. The original Roman meaning was 'The Praiseworthy One', which not surprisingly gave it great 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 Tonekyn, a witness at the church of St Anothlins, in the city of London in 1569, Agnes Tunkin at St Mary Whitechapel also in the city in 1613, and Thomas Tonkin, who is recorded in the history of the county of Cornwall in 1678. This latter recording was during the reign of King Charles IInd, 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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