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Origins of the Tunaley Name - the "Tunali/Tonali" Connection


The various stages in the investigation leading up to the Levant theory can be found at:




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).

What follows is an account of the investigation leading up to the discovery.


The following details provide some background in understanding how the names Tunali and Tonali might have established themselves in Western

Europe given the name “Tunali” seems originally to have been a uniquely Turkish name.


1. What is known is there are concentrations of people named Tunali and Tonali in Switzerland and Northern italy respectively.

2. The name Tunali is evidently of Turkish origin. Indeed, this can be checked simply by entering the name “Tunali” into any standard search


Maps with statistics show how during the Venetian Empire, all trading routes into and out of Turkey led back to Northern Italy. Given the

singularity of the names, it is assumed the Tunalis of Switzerland and Tonalis of Northern Italy are products of early migration of peoples

from Turkey through trade. (For those interested, the author is happy to provide maps showing Venetian trade routes into Italy from Turkey

and the Levant region, along with the various population stats - email

3. The name in Turkish for the River Danube that flows into the Black Sea is the “Tuna Nehri”.

4. Words ending in “li” in Turkish mean “from”. Hence the word ”Tuna-li” could have the literal meaning “from the Danube” although an

alternative interpretation is as follows:

In mediaeval and early modern times, records confirm that the Black Sea was teeming with blue-finned tuna. Translation of “tuna” into the

Turkish language using Google gives “ton baligi”. However, in 1928 the Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk reformed the Turkish language removing

ancient Persian and Western “loan words” and replacing them with “Istanbul Turkish” (sometimes referred to as “rough Turkish”). The etymology

of the word “tuna” suggests this to have been one of such loan words to be replaced under Ataturk's reforms by the words "ton baligi" as

given by Google. Yet people in the western part of Turkey continue to use the word “tuna” and the Danube River remains the “Tuna Nehri”.

5. With the Danube flowing into the Black Sea where there was an abundance of such blue-finned tuna, the name “Tunali” could literally mean

“from the place of the tuna” (i.e. Black Sea) with the river that flows into the Black Sea (the Tuna Nehri) also taking its name from these

prolific fish.

6. The Danube delta is in Romania where the name for tuna is “ton” (in Italy the name is “tonno”) showing how the spelling of “Tunali” could

have changed to “Tonali” in areas outside Turkey.

7. In trading, the fish would have been salted and then transported into Western Europe either via the Tuna Nehri in mediaeval times or by

sea into Northern Italy at the time of the Venetian Empire (early modern times) whereby Turkish sea-trade was under Venetian control and all

sea-routes led to Northern Italy.

8. Migration of the Turkish name Tunali into Western Europe would have been a natural consequence of such trading.

9. Worth noting is that a subsequent variation from “Tunali” to “Tonali” would have affected the pronunciation of the name (cf. the usual

sounding of the name “Tunaley”).



Investigations into the Geographical Origins of the Tunaley Name

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

"Hall and Tunaley" 1780

The Early Tunaleys and A Timeline

Huguenot Connection to the Silk Mill

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