This surname of TUNNEY was an occupational name 'a maker of tuns' (a large cask or barrel for wine and beer). During the Middle Ages the manufacture and fermenting of wines and ale was necessary in every small village. Ale was the people's food in liquid form, and was consumed by everybody at all times. The extreme poverty of the Franciscans when they first settled in London was noted by a writer at the time 'I have seen the brothers drink ale so sour that some would have preferred to drink water'. In early times each villager usually brewed his own drink although he often had to pay the lord of the manor for the privilege of using his equipment. In later times the manufacture of ales and wine became an important monastic industry. The name is also spelt TUNN, TUNNERE, TUNNAH and TUNNE. The earliest of the name on record appears to be William le TUNNERE, who was recorded in Hampshire in the year 1280, and William le TUNDAR was recorded in Norfolk in 1275. Many of the modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identify individual tradesmen and craftsmen. As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognise today. A notable member of the name was Gene TUNNEY (1897-1978) the American boxer and world heavyweight champion, born in New York City. A high school drop-out, he joined the US marines at the age of 19. He won the world light-heavyweight championship, then took the heavyweight crown from Jack Dempsey in 1926. He retired undefeated in 1928 with a remarkable career record of 76 wins and one loss. In World War II he was director of athletics and physical fitness for the US Navy. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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