The surname of GUNNING was derived from the Old English GUNDWEIN - meaning battle-friend. Also a baptismal name 'the son of Gunwyn'. The name was taken to Ireland by settlers, where it is in Ulster spelt as Cunning. Ireland is one of the earliest sources of the development of patronymic names in northern Europe. Irish Clan or bynames can be traced back to the 4th century B.C. and Mac (son of) and O (grandson or ancestor of) evolved from this base, the original literal meaning of which has been lost due to the absence of written records and linguistic ambivalences which subtly but inexorably became adopted through usage. Genealogists and lexographers accept that the patronymic base does not refer to a location, quite the contrary. The use of the prefix 'Bally' (town of) attaching to the base name, identifying the location. The base root was also adopted by people residing in the demographic area without a common ancestor. These groups called 'Septs' were specially prevalent in Ireland. The first Normans arrived in Ireland in the 12th and 13th centuries to form an alliance with the King of Leinster. Under Elizabeth I in the 16th century, settlers from England established themselves around Dublin, then under English control and Presbyterian Scots emigrated to Ulster, introducing English and Scottish roots. Early records of the name mention Gundewinus de Cortinarius of the County of Surrey in 1130. Thomas Gundewin of the County of Suffolk was documented in the year 1220 and Willelmus Gunwyn of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another. A later instance of the name mentions George William (earl of Coventry) and Maria Gunning who were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1752. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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