This interesting surname, of Anglo-Saxon origin, is a locational name from Tonacliffe in Lancashire, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "tun" meaning "settlement, enclosure", and "woell(a)", spring or stream, plus "clif" meaning bank or slope. Locational surnames, such as this, were usually acquired by a local landowner, or by the lord of the manor, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace.The placename is recorded as "Tunwal(e)clif" in 1246. The surname dates back to the mid 13th Century (see below), and variations in the idiom of the spelling include Tunnicliff, Dunnicliff, Dunnicliffe, Toniecliffe and Tuncliffe. Recordings from English Church Registers include: the marriage of Ann Toniecliffe and Arthur Evans on March 25th 1654, at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, London; the marriage of Elizabeth Tuncliffe and John Newcome on February 20th 1719, at St. John's, Hackney, London; and the marriage of John Tunnicliffe and Hannah Hambleton on August 2nd 1788, at Rochdale, Lancashire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry de Tunwaleclif, which was dated 1246, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Lancashire", during the reign of King Henry 111, 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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