Our name is North German, to be more exact Westphalian – Lower Saxony.
The oldest form of the name is Thöne, also Thune; it crops up from 1283 to 1515. Besides this Thone, Tonne, Tune, Dune and Theune are also found. It also happens that for one and the same person the written form of the name changes.
For example the later founder of the Warburg grammar school, Heinrich Thöne registered as Henrikus Theunen Warburgensis at Cologne University.
Besides Thöne – as in the tax lists of Warburg – the names, almost like pet names, “Thonemann” and “Thönemann” – often with double “n” in the middle – were also used.
It should be remembered that in the late Middle Ages it was still customary to use only the first name; the family name – derived from the area of origin or the place of origin or also from the occupation – gradually became important.
Only later was a fixed written form customary.
It should be regarded as an established fact that the name Thöne / Thonemann in Warburg has no connection with “Antonius” in its origins, a word formation to which the modern form of the name could quickly lead.
Also when registering our family coat of arms in the German coat of arms list, published by “Herold”, society for heraldry, genealogy and related sciences in Berlin, the Herold’s committee first of all assumed this. If this were the case, the name Thöne would also be represented in the predominantly Catholic States of Southern Germany; according to a 1936 survey of all available address books of all Thönes living at the time it is not present there, but exclusively in North Germany.
Rather the name means “Zaun” (fence), Low German “Thon, Thun, Thün”, from Indo-European “Thunnum”, comparable with the Anglo-Saxon “tun”, “dun” and the English word “town”, pronounced “taun”, and especially the Celtic, represented in so many places “dunon” or “dunum”, which taking the basic meaning of the word, means the castle, the town; Zaun (fence) = enclosure, hedge, pen, fenced in land, yard, place.
As the name of a person, the family name from the basic meaning indicates the owner of a fenced in, fortified farm or property.
Recent researches finished in 2003 conclude that this notation of the name “Thonemann” originally spread only from Scherfede. Already by mid of the 17th century this writing of the name was found in several Scherfede documents. (This paragraph was inserted by Ralf A. H. Thonemann.)