The Huguenots' Connection to the Old Silk Mill (click here)

Origins of The Tunaley Name (click here)



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).

See also "Thomas Tunaley, Merchant of Milan".

What follows forms one part of the investigation leading up to the discovery.

Thomas Tunaley: a cutting from the Derby Mercury of 20 August 1795 gives Thomas as having been found dead by hanging, and aged "upwards of 80 years"

Apprenticeship records, dated July 1755 from the Kew Archives, show Thomas Tunaley's occupation as Master Feltmaker in Derby with a female apprentice named

Sarah Chandler. The lack of knowledge of Thomas’s age at death could be explained by Thomas having originated from mainland Europe. And the age details suggest that Thomas’s arrival

in Derby, if as a young man, would have been in the late 1720’s at the earliest.

Working conditions at the Old Silk Mill were grim, according to Hutton (1723-1815) in his book "The History of Derby". Child labour was used in the "Italian" mill although adults

were employed as finishers of the product and for quality control. This background plus the relevant dates do not tie in with what is known of the original Tunaleys unless they were

themselves part of the child labour, a psoition for which there is no evidence.


Incorrect Record of a "John Tunaley", 1727


There is a record (now shown to be incorrect) of a "John Tunaley" and wife Elizabeth present at the baptism of daughter Mary at *St. Mary’s Church , Nottingham, 18 August 1727 three

years after the Italian silk ban. Paul Tunaley has shown that the acetate microfilm from which this record was taken has deteriorated to such an extent that numerous letter

characters from the original record are missing and those that remain spoiled. Paul has then managed to obtain a copy of the original bishop’s listing which shows beyond all doubt

that the actual person attending the baptism was a Joseph Toplady. Further investigations then reveal a separate record confirming this baptism on 18 August 1727.

*N.B. even though the "John Tunaley" record is now seen to be in error, it is interesting to note that St. Mary’s Church is the oldest religious foundation in Nottingham and is

situated in the Lace Market area of the city (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Mary's_Church,_Nottingham). Although lace-making in Nottingham did not become established until the

second half of the 1700’s following Jedediah Strutt’s invention of the “Derby Rib” (see: http://phtunaley.hypermart.net/TunaleysOfSpitalfields.htm and

http://www.williams.gen.nz/hosiery.html ) framework knitting using silk, rather than cotton, was already in place in Nottingham at the time of the Tunaley arrival.


Record of a William Tunaley 1731


There is a record of a “William Tunnaley” marrying Ann Bramford at St. Alkmunds Church, Derby, 27 Dec. 1731.
This information along with other records, including proven apprenticeship records for the next Tunaley generation , suggest two Tunaleys. possibly brothers, arriving in Derby following the Italian silk ban. As the John Tunaley record of 1727 can now be dismissed, this leaves Wiliiam as the other possible Tunaley.

The original Tunaleys, if there were more than one, would have been craftsmen who appeared on the scene late 1720s early 1730s. They may have made their way to Derby from the London area but no direct link has been found to the Huguenots and latest evidence indicates that the original Tunaleys may have been traders or expert silk producers from the Italian or Mediterranean area (click here). Their connection with the London area could have been through the London based Levant and East India Companies. The Tunaley family's connections and contacts with the London capital (e.g. locations of weddings) are strong.


Early Tunaleys of whom there are proven records


Three Tunaleys have now been located on the National Archives database for apprenticeship payments:

Master Feltmaker: Thomas Tunaley
Residence Location: Derby
Apprentice name: Sarah Chandler
Payment Date: July 11 1755

Master Glover: "Jos" Tunaley -thought to be an NA transcription error and should be Jas (i.e. James Tunaley)
Residence Location: Derby
Apprentice Name: Geo Bradbury
Payment Date: 16 June 1762

Master Framework Knitter: Ben Riley
Residence Location: Chaddesden, Derbyshire.
Apprentice Name: Ben Tunaley
Payment Date: April 28 1773.


The abbreviation "Jos" Tunaley (i.e. Joseph or Josiah") makes little sense in terms of the details of old records on the "Tunnaley" pdf file.
It is thought the "Jos" should in fact be "Jas" (i.e. James), the author having checked through some of the writing and found there is little or no difference between the way the two abbreviations are written.
Based on the consistency of the "Tunaley" spelling in the above records, it now seems the frequent variations on the early spelling of "Tunaley"
in the pdf file are the result either of transcription error or straightforward misspellings. Indeed, anyone who bears the Tunaley surname will be familiar with how frequently this occurs. Additionally, the records shown on this file are taken from unofficial sources and, unlike the records detailed above, the accuracy of certain records cannot be guaranteed.

As stated above these records also provide strong evidence there were two strands of the Tunaley family at that time. James Tunaley was married at Morley 1 October 1755. Morley lies on the road out of the village of Chaddesden (then listed as in Derbyshire but now part of Derby).
Ben Tunaley, probably the son of James, was apprenticed in Chaddesden and we also have another James Tunaley christened 30 October 1830, Chaddesden.

Overall one might consider the possibility that James Tunaley (married 1755), the glover, was the son of William Tunaley (married 1731) and that Thomas, the feltmaker, was James's uncle. It might also be worth considering that James made his gloves using felt material produced by Thomas. (http://www.straw.com/tan/felt.html for feltmaking and the making of felt hats and gloves).

Thomas Tunaley's son, also Thomas Tunaley (b. abt 1743) is shown on his marriage certificate as a silk throwster. As such, Thomas may well have been initially employed at the Silk Mill - where silk was spun or "thrown" into threads ready for weaving - click here. Court Records of Lichfleld, also show that George Needham, Robert Tunaley's father-in-law by his first marriage to Mary, was a silk throwster, creating an obvious link, in terms of occupation and relating initially to the Silk Mill. Finally, Dr. Jane Holmes of New Zealand has found records showing that William "Tunnaley" who married Sarah Ragg in 1774 (click here) was also a throwster. This item, in turn, indicates that the Silk Mill was fully operational fifty years after it was built.

A 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).


Potted History and Timeline


Prior to the 1700's all spinning and weaving was conducted as a cottage industry.
Spinning was achieved using a spinning wheel.
Weaving was conducted by means of a hand loom which could weave fabrics no wider than the weaver's own arms length.
Five spinners might be required to supply sufficient yarn for one weaver. The entire process was often achieved within a single large family.

The Industrial Revolution, started slowly in the 1700's and was driven by the clothing industry.

1721: Calico Act - a ban on import and wearing of Indian cotton and cotton fabrics in favour of wool and silk. A previous ban had already been imposed in 1796 by the Frnach and much of Europe, a position that hastened the migration of French textile workers, many of whom were Huguenots, to Spitalfields, England (for more detailed reasons click here). Formerly, there had been a British Calico Act of 1701 but that had been vague and half-hearted in its terms and so generally ignored.

1722: Successful water-powered silk spinning started in Derby with John Lombe's silk spinning mill.

1733: Developments then took place in the home-based weaving industry with John Kay's invention of the flying shuttle.
The wooden looms of that time might be broad or narrow; broad looms meant that the weaver needed an expensive assistant (often an apprentice).
With the flying shuttle, this arrangement ceased to be necessary.

1756: Jedediah Strutt of Belper near Derby, and his brother-in-law William Woollat developed an attachment to the stocking frame that allowed the production of ribbed stockings. A patent was taken out in 1759. Their machine became known as the Derby Rib, and the stockings it produced quickly became popular.

1764: Spinning Jenny - James Hargreaves (1720-1778)

1769: Spinning Frame - Arkwright (1732-1792) and John Kay.

1769: Richard Arkwright formed a partnership with Jedediah Strutt and Samuel Need. hosiery manufacturer of Nottingham.
Arkwright had taken an interest in spinning and carding machinery that turned raw cotton into thread.
In 1768 Arkwright had moved to Nottingham, centre of the lace industry and created a spinning frame that was driven by horses with the latter found to be an unsatisfactory power source.

1769+: Water Frame - an advance on the spinning frame. A water-driven machine that produced a strong twist for warps, substituting wooden and metal cylinders for human fingers,

1771: In Derby, John Lombe had earlier built a successful silk spinning mill using water power.
With a relaxation of the Calico Act, Strutt and Need joined Arkwright in the building of a cotton mill at Cromford, using what was henceforth called Arkwright's water frame. This was the first of its kind in the world, marking the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

1771: Hand-Spinners were now being displaced by small jenny factories (in competition at Derby with continued silk spinning at the Old Silk Mill).

1774: Formal repeal of the 1721 Calico Act following the above inventions of mechanised spinning devices.

1775: Arkwright patent on Carding Engine (converting raw cotton buds into a continuous skein of cotton fibres which could then be spun into yarn).

1776 The first James Watt steam engines were installed and working in commercial enterprises.

1778: Strutt's first mill at Belper (eventually 8 mills at Belper). Strutt bought land in 1777 for this first mill with Belper, at that time, hamlet of framework knitters and nail makers. In 1781 he bought the old forge at Makeney by Milford Bridge from Walter Mather. Belper opened in 1778 and Milford in 1782. For each he built long rows of substantial worker's houses and both are now part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. In time there would be eight Strutt mills at Belper which would grow to a population of 10,000 by the mid-nineteenth century and be the second largest town in the county.

1779: Spinning Mule - Samuel Crompton (1753- 1827) - improvement on Arkwright's Water Frame

1780: "Hall and Tunaley" (click here) silk throwsters, join the Strutts as part of a Silk Throwsters Association set up in 1778 to prosecute stealers of silk and silk waste. In 1778 there had also been machine breaking episodes by framework knitters. Also included in the association is Joseph Needham son of George Needham, Robert Tunaley's father-in-law by his first marriage. By 1771 (see above) the spinning machines had already become too large for home use and it is thought the "Hall and Tunaley" and Needham businesses were themselves jenny factories or similar.

1781 Samuel Need died with the remaining Strutt/Arkwright partnership dissolved. Strutt also happened to believe that Arkwright had been moving too fast and without the support of Need, his long-time partner, he was unwilling to take the risk of further investments. Ownership of the mills was split with Arkwright taking the Cromford mills and Strutt taking the Belper mills.

1782: Strutt's second mill at Milford.

1783: Arkwright's Masson Mill at Matlock Bath.

Power weaving (in addition to spinning) using water power started following the inventions of the Yorkshire engineer and clergyman Edmund Cartwright.
The system was gradually refined over the next 47 years, becoming steam-powered when a design by Kenworthy and Bullough made the operation completely automatic. This system became known as the Lancashire Loom.

1786: Strutt's North Mill, Belper, completed.

Arkwright moved the building of his subsequent mills to Manchester and Lancashire where steam power was replacing water power. Arkwright would also have seen that Manchester could offer an almost limitless supply of cheap child labour.
But Arkwright remained an adopted son of Derbyshire and became High Sheriff of Derbyshire.

Arkwright died and was buried first at Matlock, Derbyshire, his remains then moved to nearby Cromford.

1792: Strutt, William: Derby Calico Mill, stated in records to be at Morledge, Derby - eventually thee mills (calico, cotton and silk) streched along Albert Street to corner of Tennant Street where Thomas Snr. had his dyeing business (cotton and silk dyeing) at No. 5 Tennant Street. These mills ultimately run by Joseph Strutt, brother of William. Use of cast-iron frame and other fire-proofing materials.

1793 In America, Eli Whitney of Georgia was the inventor of the cotton gin, a machine that automated the separation of cottonseed from the short-staple cotton fibre.
Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin revolutionized the cotton industry. Prior to his invention, farming cotton required hundreds of man-hours to separate the
cottonseed. Imports of cotton to Britain from the southern states accelerated with silk production in America phasing out.

1795: Thomas Tunaley (the original Thomas) - death reported in the Derby Mecury, 20th August 1795.

1795: Thomas Tunaley "Snr" (b. 1772) marriage to Elizabeth Potter, 16-10-1795.

1800: Robert Tunaley's second marriage to Constantia Snape (c. 1763) daughter of William Snape (c. 1731) (William Snape's father, also William, was a Millowner, Toolmaker and Ironmonger).

The eventual outcome from the Tunaley family's point of view was that their own original businesses (felt-making, silk throwing, framework knitting and dyeing) were themselves displaced by further developments in the Industrial Revolution. Derby itself was a major hub in the subsequent Midland Railway and foremost in the building of rolling stock with some of the Tunaleys taking up positions in this new industry.
This rolling stock plant was the centre of UK production under the various ownership of the Midland Railway, the LMS, British Railways, British Rail Engineering Limited (BREL), ABB, Adtranz and Bombardier Transportation. At the start of 2013, Bombardier in Derby was the only rolling stock manufacturer in the U.K.



1. The History of Derby from White's 1857 Directory of Derbyshire: http://claycross.org.uk/White_Directory/pdf/041-112.pdf

2. Silk Weaving at Spitalfields: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=22161

3. The Old Silk Mill: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lombe

4. Huguenots, Spitalfields and the Stocking Frame:

5. History of the Glovers Company: http://www.thegloverscompany.org/

6. Jedediah Strutt, Samuel Need: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Normanton

7. Edmund Cartwright and Power Weaving: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Cartwright

8. Arkwright and Strutt: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/IRarkwright.htm

9. John and Thomas Lombe - builders of the Silk Mill: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lombe

10. Silk Throwing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk_throwing

11. "The Strutts and the Arkwrights, 1758-1830: A Study of the Early Factory System"; by R. S. Fitton, Alfred P. Wadsworth; Manchester University First Published 1958.


The Tunaleys' Italian Ancestor-Thomas "Tunalli"

"Thomas Tunalli, Merchant of Milan"

George Sorocold: "The First British civil engineer"

Investigations into the Geographical Origins of the Tunaley Name

Early Tunaleys - the Feltmaker, the Throwster, the Innkeeper and the Merchant Tailor

"Hall and Tunaley" 1780

Huguenot Connection to the Silk Mill

Back to Tree


Phil Tunaley.