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Tunnacliffe Coat of Arms / Tunnacliffe Family Crest

The surname of TUNNACLIFFE was a locational name 'of Tunnicliff' in the parish of Rochdale, County Lancashire. The name was recorded in County Lancashire in 1246 as TONACLIFFE literally meaning the dweller at the enclosure-settlement by the spring or stream on a bank or slope. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land. Early records of the name mention Henry de Tunwaleclif of the County of Lancashire in 1246. Edward Tunnaclifee of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Later instances of the name include a certain John Tunnecliff and Elizabeth Capp who were married at St. Dionis Backchurch, London in 1724. Thomas Gould and Elizabeth Tunnecliff were married at St. George's Chapel, Mayfair, London in 1753. Joseph Tunnicliff was recorded as the mayor of Macclesfield in 1818. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.

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Last Updated: January 15th, 2021

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