The Italians and the Tunley/Tunaley Connection
A further Update, 23-10-20
Following the original update as set out below, further information has come to light, providing more evidence of the connection between the "original" Thomas Tunaley
and the East India Company.
Records now suggest that Thomas died in 1755, not 1795* as previously thought, and that Katherine, his widow, remarried to Burder Taylor, 18th October 1757. Following
this marriage, all three original records for the baptisms of her three later children give the mother as "Catharina", a variant of "Catarina", the Italian version
Also, following the death of her second husband, a further record shows that in 1767 Catharina moved with the children of this second marriage from her home in
the parish of All Saints, Derby to London with the destination of the journey being the historic church St. Andrews Undershaft. Perhaps significantly, this church
situated very close to what was then the headquarters of the East India Company on Leadenhall Street with which the church had strong links.
Moreover Catherina’s former residence, presumably now taken over by son Robert Tunaley, is given as in the parish of All Saints, Derby, significant because not only
did that parish include Full Street but it appears most or all of the other Tunaleys were living either in the Little Chester area of Derby, the adjacent parish of
St. Alkmund's, or in the nearby parish of Darley.
This event also in keeping with the Tunaley's London connections including the marriage, 1777, of Hezekiah Tunaley at St. George, Hanover Square. And
consistent with Catharina's first husband, Thomas Tunaley, having been a wealthy merchant with the East India Company.
Meanwhile, a cutting from the Derby Mercury of 20 August 1795 gives one Thomas Tunaley as having been found dead by hanging, aged "upwards of 80 years" but
more recently discovered records now indicate that Thomas Tunaley the feltmaker died 1755 (buried 24th October 1755), i.e. shortly after the newspaper publication.
The 1795 death* now appears to be that of the Thomas Tunley born 1705 (see table below) to parents Benjamin and Sarah Tunley.
Thomas Tunaley born abt. 1743 and previously given as the son of the "original" Thomas Tunaley and brother of Robert and Hezekiah now appearing to be the son
of William Tunley (later "Tunnaley") born 1713 who married Anne Bramford, 1731.
Reasons are set out later in this article.
The author wishes to acknowledge and thank Mr. Paul Tunaley for his discovery of the Catharina name details.
This article updates all previous articles relating to the original Tunaleys.
According to the memoirs of Francis Boott (1813 –1904), "Recollections of Francis Boott for his Grandson F.B.D.", the name Tunaley derives from the Italian name "Tunalli".
In brief the book indicates the "original Thomas Tunaley" was an Italian by the name of "Tunalli" who, on arrival in England in the early 1700s, anglicised his name to "Tunaley"
Certain entries recently found by the author contained in original records do indeed show the name "Tunaley" originated following the 1721 John Lombe construction of The
Old Silk Mill. But they also indicate the name "Tunaley" to be an extension of the original name "Tunley" rather than the Italian name "Tunalli".
The Tunleys/Tunaleys may well have been involved behind the scenes in the Lombe construction (see below) and it's thought possible one of the Italians involved in the
further development of Lombe's mill adopted the name Tunaley in what appears a clandestine series of events. If Francis Boott's information is correct that Italian would
have been Thomas "Tunalli" or Tunaley, the father of Thomas (b.1743), Robert (b. 1746) and Hezekiah (b. 1750) with no records yet found of marriage in England between himself
and wife Katherine (or Catherine).
From six years ago when relevant extracts from Boott's book were published on this website, hundreds more BMD records of our ancestors, many originals, have
appeared online. These include records containing original entries placed by Derbyshire County Council, the latter in particular shedding more light on the
origin of the Tunaley name. The earliest Tunaley entry so far found appears in 1728, a few years after the construction of John Lombe's factory silk mill
in Derby, completed 1721 and carried out with the expert assistance of various Italians brought in from Italy to assist the project.
Certain entries in these records indicate that the Tunaley name derives from a small number of Tunley families resident in the Little Chester area of Derby
in the early 1700s. Little Chester was in the parish of St. Alkmund, close to where the Lombe mill was constructed. These entries also show that at least
two Tunley families changed their name to Tunaley soon after the Lombe construction.
The evidence is unusual to say the least.
Firstly there are numerous entries in the 1700s showing the Tunaleys' use of the alias "Trundle".
7th February 1775: " Bap. Elizabeth daughter of Thomas and Catharine Trundle alias Tunaley".
"Mary Tunley or Trundle christened 28 Oct 1758 Father: James Tunley Or Trundle, Mother Elizabeth"
"Nathan Tunnaley Or Trundle christening 3/7/1756 Father: James Tunnaley Or Trundle, Mother: Elizabeth"
" Benjamin Tunnaley Or Trundle christened 3/7/1756 Father: James Tunnaley Or Trundle; Mother Elizabeth"
A most informative article on the historical use of such aliases can be found at:
This tells us that aliases in the 1700s were fairly usual and more often than not used for legitimate reasons including land ownership. And, in keeping
with this article, the use of the Trundle alias by the Tunaleys disappeared toward the end of the 1700s.
Even more significantly however, the very same Trundle alias is also found in three original entries involving the Tunley family, all dated a few years
prior to the Lombe construction.
1. October 28th 1713:"Buried Thomas and Elizabeth, son and daughter of Benji (sic) Tunley alias Trundle".
2. 9th December 1717: "Buried (space on record with no first name) daughter of Thomas Tunley alias Trundle of Little Chester".
3. January 19 th 1723 " " Buried Joseph Trundle or Tunley "
Additionally, and with no connection here to aliases, one particular record mentions an Ellen Tunley (father Joseph Tunley) christened 21st. June 1708 at
St. Alkmund's, Derby. Then on 4th May 1728, i.e. a few years after the Lombe construction, the marriage of "Johnathan Henson & Ellen Tunaley", suggesting a
Tunley/Tunaley name change in the interim.
Likewise William Tunley (father Benjamin Tunley) christened 26th. May 1713 at St. Alkmund's Derby. And on 27th December 1731 the marriage of "William Tunnaley
to Ann Bramford " also at St. Alkmunds.
See table centre:
Tunaley Involvement in the Lombe construction
Research by A. Calladine "Lombe's Mill: An Exercise in Reconstruction" (2013) suggests that following Thomas Cotchett's failed construction of a similar factory
silk mill at Derby, John Lombe, who'd been apprenticed to Cotchett, felt some pressure from certain influential people in Derby to resurrect the project.
The question here is whether - or more probably how - the Tunleys were involved and to what extent.
Here, unfortunately, the evidence is circumstantial and the reasoning speculative.
Firstly it would seem that no prosecutions or charges were brought against any of the Italians following the alleged poisoning of John Lombe in 1722. And regarding the Italian woman
who mysteriously vanished and was said to have fled back to Italy, one wonders how, even if true, she could have successfully achieved that escape without help
from others. And Lombe himself presumably would have found it extremely difficult to successfully carry out his espionage without the considerable planning and assistance of a number
of influential people.
One interested party would certainly have been Nathaniel Curzon, 4th Baronet (1676–1758) of the Kedleston estate, more importantly from the Lombe point of view, Tory MP for Derby
1713-1715, remaining in politics after losing his seat to later become MP for Derbyshire in 1727.
Therefore interesting to note that on 8th September 1737 a Thomas Tunaley wedding took place at the Curzon family church at Kedleston*, set in the grounds of the Curzon estate.
This marriage between one Thomas Tunaley, described as glover, aged 21 years of Little Chester, Derby and bride Sarah Robotham.
A further interesting item concerns one Benjamin Tunley, birthplace and baptism given as "St. Giles, without Cripplegate", London, April 1677. Benjamin appears to have been the
father of William Tunnaley (baptized William Tunley, St. Alkmund's Derby, 26th May 1713) who married Ann Bramford 1731, St. Alkmund's, Derby.
Cripplegate was one of three London centres for the weaving trade but much of the area then destroyed in The Great Fire of London, 1666. Consequently, one would assume Benjamin,
if a master weaver or merchant, would have been of considerable interest to people involved in the Lombe project after his arrival in Derby.
Also of note is that the year of Benjamin's birth, 1677, coincides with the building (1676-1678) of one of Italy's huge silk throwing mills in Caraglio, Piedmont.
The "Spinning Project"'s website at:
provides an excellent image of the mill, now restored, along with further details. Much detail also provided by Mr. David Purdy who advises that the search for
the mill in Italy that employed John Lombe is ongoing with one possible candidate being a mill at Racconigi, 40km south of Turin.
The above item also leads to questions regarding the identity of Thomas Tunaley currently given on this website as born abt. 1743 and shown as elder brother
to Robert (b. 1746) and Hezekiah (b. 1750). Whereas baptism records have been found for Robert and Hezekiah, no such record has yet been found for Thomas
whose approximate year of birth was found from a separate source.
At the same time, no baptism records have been found either for possible children of William "Tunnaley" (son of Benjamin Tunley mentioned above) who married Ann
Bramford 1731, or indeed any other record following their marriage that would link to William, Anne or both.
In fact further recent findings now suggest that, following marriage, William "Tunnaley" reverted to his original "Tunley" surname, at least for the purpose of
the baptisms records, because a number of entries have been found naming William Tunley and Anne as the father and mother of four children including one "Thomas Tunley"
baptised 16th July 1743. St. Alkmund's, Derby.
One further record is significant albeit somewhat unfortunate as far as William is concerned:
Dated April 11 th 1746, this reads," Baptized William the bast. son of William Tunley alias Trundle and Elizabeth Frost", the Trundle alias as used by the Tunaleys, providing
further evidence of the Tunley/Tunaley connection.
Meanwhile there remains the mystery over the Thomas Tunaley who married Sarah Robotham 1737 at Kedleston for which the original licence has been sighted.
His signature on the licence and the flourish on the capital "T's" of "Thos. Tunaley" show him to be well educated.
Yet no relevant records have yet been found either confirming his year of birth (1715/1716 according to his marriage licence) or subsequent to the time of his marriage.
And one record recently found casts some doubt on the Norfolk side of the Tunaley family having Italian roots as indicated in Francis Boott Jnr.'s
book "Recollections of Francis Boott for his Grandson F.B.D.".
This particular record, dated 21st July 1755, and listed in the St.Alkmund parish records reads," Baptised Joseph the son of Thomas Tunnaley, otherwise Trundle, and Catherine his wife
by the Rev. ....." (name unreadable). Clearly the Trundle association precludes father Thomas from having Italian roots. But there are a couple of anomalies regarding
Firstly this baptism took place in St. Alkmund's Church rather than St. Michael's where Robert Tunaley (b. 1746) and Hezekiah Tunaley (b. 1750) were baptised. Although a
later record dated 29th April 1758 appears in the St. Michael parish records as, "Buried Joseph Tunaley, a child " (no parentage given) with the Tunaley name now spelt in the
normal way. Meanwhile various secondary sources all give the name of the child born 1755 as "George".
Whilst these anomalies are, on the face of it, insignificant, it should be noted that further records (see above) now indicate father Thomas died shortly after the baptism
(Thomas buried 24th October 1755) with widow Catherine now married to Burder Taylor (marriage October 1757).
Either way, there appears to have been some understandable confusion in the circumstances that prevailed with the Joseph record perhaps to be regarded with some caution
as to the Trundle association.
In any event, it is now evident that the name “Tunaley" derives either directly from the previous "Tunley" name or is an amalgamation of the names Tunley and Tunalli (or Tunali),
given it is still possible an Italian of the latter name and brought in to assist the Lombe construction influenced the name-change. Also probable is that Thomas Tunaley,
father of Robert and Hezekiah, played a significant role in the development of the Silk Mill under Thomas Lombe but whether or not Thomas Tunaley was of Italian descent is
in some doubt, given the 1755 Joseph Tunaley baptism record with its Trundle association.
* The church at Kedleston was not called All Saints as it is today. Indeed the Tunaley Robotham marriage licence (copy kindly provided by Dr. Jane Holmes) refers only
to "Kedleston". The dedication to All Saints wasn't until 1742. And Kedleston Hall, as it is now, wasn't built until 1759. Prior to that, the Curzon manor home apparently a red
brick building called the Queen Anne House with gardens geometrically laid out in tiered fashion up to the house. The Kedleston "medieval village" in reality a hamlet with a
few cottages either side of a public road leading to the Curzon house.