- Recorded as Nunney, Nunnery and Nunnerley, this is an English medieval surname. It is locational for someone who lived at a place called Nunney in Somerset or Nunnerley in Sussex and Cumberland, the latter two being 'lost' or at least diminished villages. In all cases the meaning is the farm belonging to the nuns. The derivation is from the Anglo French word "nonnerie", a building in which nuns lived under religious rules, from the pre 7th century word 'nunme' and the Old French 'nomme', both meaning a nun, and where applicable the suffix "-ery" denoting the place belonging to the nuns, and '-leah', a farm or enclosure in a forrest fenced for agriculture. Topographical names are some of the earliest names to be created, as topographical features, whether natural or manmade provided obvious and convenient means of identification. Amongst the early recordings in surviving registers of the diocese of Greater London is that of the christening of Robert Nunnery on November 10th 1717 at St. Botolphs without Aldgate, and William Nunnerley christened at St James Clerkenwell on June 1st 1739. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.