The Huguenots And The Calico Act (click here)
Origins of The Tunaley Name- the Investigation (click here)

The Feltmaker, The Throwster, The Innkeeper and the Merchant Tailor.


According to the book ""Recollections of Francis Boott: for his grandson F.B.D."

Thomas Tunaley came from Italy and was born Thomas Tunalli (click here).

What follows forms one part of the investigation prior to the discovery.

See also "Thomas Tunaley, Merchant of Milan".



After a decade of investigation both by the author and other contributors, no single piece of evidence has come to light that would directly link the early Tunaleys with any previous English generation. The Tunaleys appeared on the scene sometime in the 1730's and all evidence to date indicates they came from abroad. A Huguenot expert has confirmed there is no evident link, either, to the Huguenots themselves who also arrived in Derby at the start of that century. Instead, the two positions that currently fit many aspects of current knowledge in terms of timing and circumstance is the Tunaleys having originated either from Italy or from the Levant region.

The various stages of the investigation can be found by clicking here and for details of the Italian theory click here.

The first-ever confirmed Tunaley is Thomas Tunaley, the feltmaker, of whom there are definite records. A second Tunaley William "Tunnaley" may have arrived at the same time or even earlier but records have yet to be found that would confirm his identity. What can be said is that it is most likely there were two original Tunaleys as there were two distinct branches of the Tunaley family by the mid-1700's.

For a list of early Tunaleys of whom there are proven records click here.

A further document has recently been located showing that a silk throwing business "Hall and Tunaley" was in place 17th April 1780. The Strutts own business is included in that document. For further details click here (documents courtesy of Dr. Jane Holmes).



Thomas Tunaley the Feltmaker (d. 1795)


What is known for certain regarding the original Thomas Tunaley is the following:

In 1755 Thomas Tunaley is listed as a feltmaker of Full Street, Derby with an apprentice by the name of Sarah Chandler. Additionally Thomas's son, also Thomas, is shown both on his marriage certificate and on a later document dated 1780, as a silk throwster as was Robert Tunaley's first father-in-law George Needham by Robert's first marriage 1770 to Mary Needham. Also, according to the Derby Mercury at the time, Thomas died 1795 aged "upwards of 80 years".

There are further clues giving a greater insight into Thomas's work.

1. Full Street was only two or three hundred yards away from the Silk Mill connected to Full Street by Silk Mill Lane.

2. Wastage from the silk spinning process ("wastage" evidently a misnomer) in the form of what is known as silk "noil" (shorter fibres left over from the mechanical spinning process) can itself be used and is indeed excellent for silk felting and/or it can be gathered and respun by hand to make silk "top" for embroidery.

3. The process of felting at the time would have been manual which, had "felting" been Thomas''s sole occupation, suggests it would have been unusual for the apprentice to have been female. Yet female apprentices were certainly plentiful in the more intricate work of millinery and embroidery.

4. This was the time of Mme. Pompadour and Marie-Antoinette in what became known as the Rococo period with extravagant clothing much of it further enhanced with silk embroidery. Also including menswear with silk-lined coats, tricorn hats, breeches, white socks etc. Indeed, the subsequent Parisian revolutionaries were known as the "Sans-Culottes".

5. Thomas would have either been or become an expert in dyes and dyeing, and hence a forerunner for the work of his grandson, also Thomas Tunaley (b. 1772) and Master Dyer.

6. Care is needed when interpreting original apprenticeship records. Information on William Snape Snr. (a contemporary of the original Thomas) shows his business changed considerably between 1763 (essentially milling) and 1767 (toolmaking and ironmongery). Whilst William is described in apprenticeship records simply as a "millwright" the reality is that his work was more diverse than this record's description. The same could well have applied to the original Thomas, listed 1755 as a "feltmaker". Thomas could in fact have been a silk felter and embroiderer either in 1755, at the time of the apprenticweship record, or subsequently as his business diversified.

N.B. Regarding Sarah Chandler, Thomas's female apprentice, Dr. Jane Holmes of Auckland has located a record of a Sarah Chandler showing she was christened 15 Aug, 1742 at St. Werburgh's Church, Derby and was the daughter of William and Anne Chandler. Sarah's age fits with apprenticeships in those days normally starting between the ages of 10 and 15 years.


Thomas Tunaley the Silk Throwster (b. abt 1743; year of death assumed 1781).


A notice appearing in the Derby Mercury and dated 7th April of 1780 shows that a firm of Silk Throwsters, "Hall and Tunaley" was one of nine such silk throwing firms set up as an Association

of Silk Throwsters formed by the Strutts themselves in 1778 to deter general unrest caused by developments in spinning. Jenny factories were being set up with the latest machines too big or

expensive to be used domestically. Thomas Tunaley (b. abt 1743) is shown on his marriage certificate as a silk throwster and may well have served his apprenticeship at the Old Silk Mill as a

youth. Indeed, the old Silk Mill was only a couple of hundred yards away from the Tunaley premises on Full Street. By 1780, however, one can be certain the Tunaleys were relatively wealthy.

A reflection of this is (John) Hezekiah Tunaley's marriage to Sarah Nelson 1777 at St. George's Church, Hanover Square, Middlesex.

(From Wikipedia regarding the place of marriage of Hezekiah to Sarah (also where Sarah was baptised) and showing that by the time of marriage, Hezekiah and presumably the Tunaleys must have

acquired a degree of wealth:

"St George Hanover Square was a civil parish in the metropolitan area of London, England. The creation of the parish accompanied the building of the Church of St George's, Hanover Square, constructed by the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches to meet the demands of the growing population. The parish was formed in 1724 from part of the ancient parish of St Martin in the Fields in the Liberty of Westminster and county of Middlesex. It included some of the most fashionable areas of the West End of London, including Belgravia and Mayfair. Civil parish administration, known as a select vestry, was dominated by members of the British nobility until the parish adopted the Vestries Act 1831. The vestry was reformed again in 1855 by the Metropolis Management Act. In 1889 the parish became part of the County of London and the vestry was abolished in 1900, replaced by Westminster City Council. The parish continued to have nominal existence until 1922. As created, it was a parish for both church and civil purposes, but the boundaries of the ecclesiastical parish were adjusted in 1830, 1835 and 1865".)

The fact that Sarah Nelson was baptised in this same church and hence in terms of social status part of this "nobility" is of significance. It lends support not only

to the Tunaleys being quite wealthy at this stage - the Middlesex location also supports the view that the Tunaleys were trading with London merchants.

One would assume the father Thomas played a major part in the setting up and operation of the Hall and Tunaley firm (see item 6 above) and that both Thomas Tunaleys were involved in the Hall

and Tunaley operation.

(N.B. With regard to Thomas's death, a record has been found by J.H. of a "Thomas Tunnely buried 9 Dec 1781" at "St. Werburges In Derby." Further iInformation has since come to light

indicating this was almost certainly Thomas Tunaley the throwster - click here).


For further details, go to the "Hall and Tunaley" page - click here.


(John) Hezekiah Tunaley (c. 1750) Thomas Nelson Tunaley (b. 1790) - Innkeeper and Merchant Tailor


It is known that John Hezekiah Tunaley became landlord of the Old Crown Inn, Kirkgate, Leeds in 1797. What has not been found are records of his previous occupation.

As a result, much of the following is based on circumstantial evidence.

This evidence suggests that John Hezekiah was formerly a merchant tailor based on (a) his proximity to the Briggate wool trading centre in Leeds (b) his evident acquired wealth (c) his contacts with London (d) his son's subsequent occupation as merchant tailor (e) his father Thomas's original occupation as feltmkaer (f) the timing of Hezekiah taking over the inn, 1797 i.e. after his father's death in 1795.

Further details are as follows:

1. As mentioned above, Hezekiah's first wife Sarah Nelson was baptised in the Church of St. George, Hanover Square 1748, This is at the same Church she and Hezekiah were married 1777 with the location indicating a substantial degree of wealth.

2. Hezekiah's obvious connections with Middlesex are consistent with him being a wool trader at that time.

3. Records show that Thomas Nelson Tunaley, Hezekiah's son, was a merchant tailor after migration to America with records also showing he was previously a "tailor" whilst in Leeds.


"The largely obsolete term merchant tailor also describes a business person who trades in textiles. In England, the term is best known in the context of the Worshipful Company of

Merchant Taylors, a Livery Company of the City of London which is also a charitable institution known for its Merchant Taylors' schools. (The Company preserves the antiquarian spelling


4. Hezekiah's wool trading knowhow and contacts would have been passed on to son Thomas Nelson Tunaley .

5. The original Thomas started out as a feltmaker working with wool.

6. The centre of the wool trade in Leeds was Briggate close to where Hezekiah had his public house (at Kirkgate which joins on to Briggate). Various notes relating to these inns close

to the Briggate wool trading centre confirm that such inn-keepers were wealthy.


These items are consistent with the original Thomas Tunaley having been a trader perhaps spending some years working in London, after leaving Italy and before arriving in Derby.

Moreover, by virtue of his sons' occupations (one in silk, the other in wool) the original Thomas Tunaley would have had a considerable involvement in both trading areas.

Either way, one must conclude that the original Thomas Tunaley was a significant entrepreneur of the eighteenth century.



"Thomas Tunalli, Merchant of Milan"

Investigations into the Geographical Origins of the Tunaley Name

The Early Tunaleys and A Timeline

"Hall and Tunaley" 1780

George Sorocold: "The First British civil engineer"

Huguenot Connection to the Silk Mill

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