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(based on demographic, geographic and other supporting data as detailed on this website)

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Records show a population of "Tunali"s in Switzerland ; across the border in Milan the number of families with the name "Tonali" is numerous.

Significantly the names "Tunali" and "Tonali" together with similarly spelt names are concentrated disproportionately in this area rather than

dispersed randomly throughout Italy. This demographic feature is sufficiently pronounced that the one logical explanation for such population

distribution is that these families migrated into the area from abroad in relatively "recent" (i.e. post- medieval) times.

The current Tunaley population distribution echoes this demographic feature.

Along with the geographical details, as given below, one can be reasonably confident that, in terms of work, the original Thomas Tunaley came from

Lombardy, either Milan itself or from that area up to Como and the nearby Swiss border.

The geographical details are as follows:

The Po river runs from the Italian Alps in Piedmont through Turin, is connected to Milan through a number of man-made (Da Vinci) channels and flows

into the Adriatic at the Po delta just south of Venice.  The river itself is navigable from the delta up to Pavia just south of Milan.

Como, at one time the centre of Italy's silk industry, lies close to the Swiss border and is fully transport-linked to Milan by a network of

navigable canals designed by Da Vinci.


Google Map of Northern Italy and border with Switzerland- click on map to enlarge


From :"Thanks to the connection of artificial waterways from the rivers Ticino and Adda towards the Po

River, Milan is practically connected to the Adriatic Sea via these channels."

From "The Ticino starts in Switzerland and runs into the Po and is one of the

most important tributaries of the Po river "
From: "The Adda rises in the Alps near the border with Switzerland and flows through Lake Como, joins the Po a

few kilometres upstream of Cremona. It is 313 kilometres (194 mi) long."

One important point here is that the mulberry and silkworm farms were uniqely established on the banks of the Ticino and Adda rivers.

Also, the finest silk was produced in the Como area, according to all records so far seen.


"At the time of unification, Lombardy produced 40% of total silk cocoons and one-third of Italian raw silk. There was a total of 94 weaving plants

with 5447 looms and 8000 workers and raw silk constituted 86 per cent of total exports". (Unification 1848-1871).

What also seems reasonable is that, before the advent of steam power, the silk throwing mills would have been best sited in Piedmont where the

non-navigable part of the Po river and its tributaries were fast-flowing.  Here, the spinning mills were water driven, their design said to have

been based on original Da Vinci engineering drawings.

One can then assume that the raw silk was produced in Lombardy, sent over land to Piedmont for processing, then returned to Milan where the

yarn was traded for export with silk merchants.

(It was in Piedmont that John Lombe conducted his industrial espionage, obtaining employment at one of the Italian mills where the

silk-throwing machinery was used and, over a period of time, creating detailed drawings of the machinery which he secretly brought back to

Derby, 1716. It was also around this time that Thomas "Tunalli", later to become Thomas Tunaley, was born. Whilst Thomas's exact year of birth is

not known, we do know from a notice in the Derby Mercury that he died 20 August 1795, aged "upwards of 80 years." )

With regard to the merchants themselves, records state the following: "The first export-oriented industry on European soil was organised by merchant

entrepreneurs in the populous towns of Northern Italy".


For further information, including population statistics,

email to:


The Tunaleys' Italian Ancestor-Thomas "Tunalli"

Investigations into Origins of the Tunaley Name

Origins of the Tunaley Name - The Tunali/Tonali Possbility

Thomas Tunaley, the Feltmaker, and the Early Tunaleys

The Early Tunaleys and A Timeline

Huguenot Connection to the Silk Mill

Back to Tree

Phil Tunaley.