Thomas Tunaley


Robert was a dance master operating in Derby, Mansfield, Nottingham and Kegworth, Leicesterhire.

His son Thomas Snape Tunaley was also a dance master and took over the business after Robert died.

Son Thomas is referred to as "Tunnaling" in Chapter 4 of Graham Stevenson's "Defence or Defiance" -see also item under Thomas Snape Tunaley


Go to the National Archives (click here) for Robert's dancing association (1803) with the Longsdon family. William Longsdon is writing to his mother from Heath, Derbyshire. Robert is mentioned in William's correspondence dated 21/3/1803. The author notes the village of Heath is close to where Mary Rotherham lived (see panel right). Indeed, gravestones at Longtone Church show that several of the Heathcotes are buried there (Mary Rotherham was herself a member of the Heathcote family).


Following Robert's death 1820, Constantia went to live in Duffield, north of Derby, keeping possession of the Full Street premises which she rented out.

The following is an advertisement that appeared in the Derby Mercury 1827:

"To Be Let
And may be entered upon at Lady day next.

A Commodious Dwelling House in good repair situate in the Full Street, in Derby near the Market Place in the possession of Mrs. Tunaley containing dining drawing and breakfast rooms, together with suitable lodging rooms and where necessary conveniences for the accommodation of a respectable family. There is also attached to this residence a large room which has benn used for Assemblies and other public occasions and which could easily be adapted to any purpose that might suit the convenience of the taker.
For a view and further particulars apply to Mrs. Humphrys, Full Street.
N.B. There is a Stable and other out buildings belonging to these Premises.
Derby, 23 January 1827 "

(Information courtesy of Dr. Jane Holmes)

Later records show that Full Street was rented out to family members becoming the main residence of Thomas Snape Tunaley. Prior to the 1857 Court cases involving the property, John Tunaley was also living at Full Street.























Transcription of Robert's Will.

(This document obtained and transcribed by Marcus Tunaley)

This will dated 14/2/1805, approved 17/4/1821.


P.P.Burdett's 1769 sketch of Full Street, Derby where Robert and family lived.

Click here for more detailed information.


Robert Tunaley (Dance Master)

b. Derby, 1744/45.


For Newspaper Cuttings, click here

For more information on Robert Tunaley's dancing activities see base of this panel.


m(1): Mary Needham, 11-6-1770.

Mary d. Derby 1775, buried St. Alkmund's, Derby, Sept. 1775.

Mary was the daughter of George Needham, a throwster as was Thomas, Robert's brother. Both Thomas and George had probably been employed as throwsters at the Old Silk Mill but by 1780, Thomas was a partner in his own throwing company "Hall and Tunaley" whilst Joseph Needham, George's son, also had his own company. George, the father, died 1777/78 with Lichfield records showing subsequent court cases relating to the administration of his estate.


m(2): Constantia Snape 27-1-1800

Constantia c. 1763, St. Werburgh, Derby

Constantia d. Duffield, nr. Derby, 5th June, 1854 - buried, Duffield, 10 June 1854 (J.H.)

The Will of Constantia Tunaley


Constantia was the daughter of William Snape (millowner).


Robert became owner of father-in-law William Snape's mill following his marriage to Constantia (click here).

Robert d. 11th August 1820, Derby, "in the 76th year of his age" (from Derby Mercury, Wed. 16th August, 1820).

By First Marriage:

George Tunaley c. 15-3-1773, St. Alkmunds, Derby d. 16/10/1788.

This record confirmed by Lichfield Court records (see panel right).

By Second Marriage:

Robert Tunaley and Regency Dancing

In a Derby Mercury notice dated April 2 1777, Robert Tunaley announced,"that he will open his SCHOOL at the Old Assembly Room, on Monday the 21st of this Instant".

Although the Regency Period was officially from 1811 through to 1820 when King George 111 was incapacitated - his place taken by the Prince Regent - unoffocially the Regency Period is taken from the late 1700's to around 1840 where the dress code for ladies and gentlemen was of a particular distinguishing style. At the highest end of the social scale debutantes in London might first be presented to the monarch. Elsewhere debutantes would initially have their own "coming-out party", usually in the form of a ball. It meant the young woman involved was eligible to marry with the purpose of meeting eligible bachelors and their families with a view to marriage at the same or higher social level. Following this, a season of events would take place that might include afternoon tea parties and further dancing events.
As such, the art of dancing was a necessary social skill for both a lady and gentleman and their dancing finesse might confirm or otherwise their marital eligibility. Hence a dancing master could well be called in by a family prior to any "coming out" event in order to provide appropriate dancing tuition. In the provinces, many towns had their own Assembly Rooms for this purpose in addition to the balls themselves.
The Old Assembly Rooms at Derby was such a place and it is evident that in 1777, Robert Tunaley was very much a leader in these developments.


Constantia's will of 1854 revoked following the

Tunaley Court Cases of 1857

The issue here seems to be that, in her will (click here), Constantia, the mother, left all her estate to daughter Constantia Maria, leaving out her two sons as beneficiaries. Perhaps significantly, as far as the two sons were concerned, the will was made out 16 May 1854, only shortly before Constantia died (Constantia buried Duffield, 10 June 1854).





Tunaley vs. Roch - April 27th, 1857 - a challenge to mother Constantia's Will by the other Tunaleys, following her death in 1854. Challenge appears to be whether on Constantia's death estate should go to Constantia Maria Roch or divided equally between Robert's children.


Records show a legal involvement (1810) regarding property between Robert and a Mary Rotherham of Whitwell, Derbyshire. Mary Rotherham formerly Mary Heathcote m. Benjamin Rotherham 1768. The Heathcotes appear to have been considerable property owners in North Derbyshire.


Copies of Lichfield Court records through 1778-1779 supplied by Dr. Jane Holmes show an unpleasant case against Joseph Needham son of George Needham, Robert's father-in-law by his first marriage. This case, in which Robert appeared as a witness, involved the administration of George's estate by Joseph who was ultimately exonerated by the Court of withholding information regarding George's debts at the time of death.

The case is interesting from a number of other points:

1. Robert's son, also George, is mentioned as is Thomas Hefford (Derby gaoler and Serjeant at Mace, 1787) son-in-law of Thomas Tunaley, Robert's brother.

2. The Court sitting was an ecclesiastical Court.

From: ""
"Just as we have a hierarchy of courts from the local magistrates' court to the county court, to the Central Criminal Court to the Courts f Appeal there was a similar hierarchy of Church Courts. Until 1858 church courts heard many matters now regarded as the province of the secular authorities, the best known of which being probably the probate of wills and the granting of administrations."

3. The Church representative at the Court was G. Buckston, the curate of St. Alkmund's Derby, where Robert's first wife Mary was buried (1775).

4. Result:

Joseph accused of withholding information relating to George's debts but later absolved and "excommunication" later found to have been unjustly exercised.

























The Tunaley Family History

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