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Surname Tonstall - Meaning and Origin

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Tonstall: What does the surname Tonstall mean?

The surname Tonstall is of English origin and is believed to be a habitational or topographic name. This means it probably originated from a place name or geographic location. Some speculations suggest that it could be derived from the Old English words "tun" and "stall", which translate to "farmstead" or "place" and "stall" or "stand" respectively. In a broader interpretation, it may represent someone who lived near or worked at a stall or stand at a farmstead. It is also feasible that it could pertain to a location with such a name. It does not have a well-documented or specific meaning due to changes in language and orthography over centuries. The variations in the spelling of this surname, such as Tunstall or Tunstal, may also provide more context to its origin or meaning. As with many surnames, additional research into genealogical and regional records would provide a more accurate understanding of its historical significance or meaning.

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Tonstall: Where does the name Tonstall come from?

The last name Tonstall is most commonly seen today in England, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

Originally, the name Tonstall was derived from a place name in Cumberland, England where the family resided prior to the Norman Conquest of 1066. The family settled in various other parts of northern England as a result of the Conquest, such as Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Westmorland.

In the 1500s, the Tonstall line made its way to the New World, with the earliest known ancestor of the family in America being Charles Tontill, who arrived in Virginia in the 1650s. Many members of the family then migrated to New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and other states in the Union.

Today, the last name Tonstall is fairly widespread throughout the United States. According to the 2010 U.S. census, slightly less than 500 households list the last name Tonstall as their primary surname. The highest concentration of Tonstall households can be found in the states of Colorado, New Jersey, Florida, and Virginia.

Additionally, the name Tonstall can be found in Canada, Australia, and other parts of the Commonwealth.

Variations of the surname Tonstall

The surname Tonstall has a few different variations of spelling depending on geographic location and nationality. The common spelling of the surname is Tonstall, and many people will use this or the variant spellings Tontill, Tonstulle, Tunstall and Tynstall. Each of these spelling variants have changed slightly throughout the years as the migration of the surname has changed. For example, the spelling variant Tontill has largely been used primarily in the United Kingdom and other countries with a strong British influence.

In some other countries, such as Germany, the spelling of the surname has taken on a different form. In Germany, the surname is typically spelled Tonstahl, Tunstell or Tänschel.

Those with the surname Tonstall have various origin stories stemming from the British Isles. The name is most likely of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has its roots in the variably pronounced personal name Tunestahlen. The Anglo-Saxon personal name is thought to be of Norse origin, which stems from the words tunn, meaning enclosure, and stala, meaning a man who stands.

Tunestahlen was a common personal name in the 9th to 11th centuries, indicating a strong connection between Britain and Scandinavia during that time. Because of this, many variant spellings of the surname were found in countries with a strong influence from the British Isles, such as Ireland, Scotland and the United States.

Tonstahl is an alternate spelling of the surname which is widely used in Germany and other European countries, and is thought to derive from tänsch, which means wizard in German.

Tunstall is widely used by those with the surname in Canada, Australia, and the United States. The origin story of the surname in these countries closely mirrors the origins in Britain and is thought to derive from Tunestahlen.

No matter the spelling, those who share the surname of Tonstall can trace its roots back to the personal name Tunestahlen, with every derivative spelling having the same origin story.

Famous people with the name Tonstall

  • George Tonstall: British Anglican bishop, Lord High Treasurer and President of the Court of Augmentations.
  • William Tonstall (1500-1567): English printer and publisher of the first printed book in English.
  • Cuthbert Tonstall (c.1474-1559): English theologian, bishop, reformer and one of the first to translate the Bible into English.
  • John Tonstall (1600-1674): English politician and lawyer who served in both Parliament and the House of Commons.
  • Sir William Tonstal (1534-1610): English courtier, soldier and politician who held high office of Privy Councillor.
  • Richard Tonstall (1563-1616): English politician and member of the London Assembly.
  • Thomas Tonstall (1577-1637): English politician and Member of Parliament.
  • Sir John Toulston (1520-1580): English Member of Parliament and privy councillor.
  • John Toulston (1559-1621): Bishop of Durham and author of several works on Christian apologetics.
  • Thomas Tonstall (1581–1660): English Parliamentarian and member of the militia during the civil war.

Other surnames

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