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Bunch Surname Early Origins

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This page is part of the Bunch Name Study

Early Origins of the Bunch family

The surname Bunch was first found in Perthshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Pheairt) former county in the present day Council Area of Perth and Kinross, located in central Scotland. In Scottish history, few names go farther back than Bunch, whose ancestors lived among the clans of the Pictish tribe. They lived in the lands of Perthshire since the early 15th century.

This very unusual surname recorded in the spellings of Bunch, Bunche and Bunce, is believed to be of Middle English pre 14th century origins. However it derives from the word 'Bunche', itself a development of the German 'Bunz', meaning a barrel. As such the name was probably a medieval nickname for a portly or rotund person, one who resembled a barrel, although it is also possible the name is occupational for a maker or user of a particular type of barrel, perhaps one associated with German wines which were becoming popular at that time. In defining the precise meaning of early surnames, one must be cautious about applying twentieth century translations to 13th century words, and it maybe that the original 'meaning' was quite different in context to today. What is certain is that names which had unpleasant connotations rarely became hereditary, whilst this surname is not only one of the earliest on record, as shown below, but has remained basically unchanged since.

Early examples of the surname recording include William Bunche in the Subsidy Rolls of the county of Cambridge in 1327, whilst one of the first English settlers to the new colonies of the West Indies and Virginia was Joseph Bunce, who embarked from Gravesend, on the ship 'Peter Bonaventure of London', bound for Barbados. His subsequent fate is not known.

A coat of arms also granted in Kent has the blazon of a blue field, on a fess between three silver boars, three blue eagles. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey Bunch, which was dated 1195, the Pipe Rolls of the county of Northampton, during the reign of King Richard 1, known as 'ThE lionhearted', 1189 - 1199. 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.

United States Bunch migration to the United States

This oppression forced many Scots to leave their homelands. Most of these chose North America as their destination. Although the journey left many sick and poor, these immigrants were welcomed the hardy with great opportunity. Many of these settlers stood up for their newfound freedom in the American War of Independence. More recently, Scots abroad have recovered much of their collective heritage through highland games and other patriotic functions and groups. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has located various settlers bearing the name Bunch:

Bunch Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

John Bunch, who arrived in Virginia in 1656 [2] William Bunch, who arrived in Virginia in 1665-1666 [2]

Bunch Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

John Bunch, who landed in Virginia in 1716 [2] Robert Bunch who settled in Maryland in 1742 David Bunch was born prior to 1762 in England and immigrated to the United States prior to 1777. His name was found on early documents in the states of Virginia and was later discovered in Tennessee. David became an Ensign in the 9th Regiment of Clairborne Co., Tennessee 23 September 1815. He was married to Judith (surname unknown) and was the father of at least two known children. Descendants who carried the Bunch surname lived primarily in Tennessee, Virginia and elsewhere.

Bunch Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

Samuel G Bunch, who landed in Savanna(h), Georgia in 1811 [2] Alexander Bunch, who settled in New York City with his wife in 1820 Henry Bunch, aged 30, who arrived in Key West, Fla in 1838 [2] William Bunch, who settled in Philadelphia in 1850 Nicholas Bunch, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1879

Bunch migration to New Zealand

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Bunch Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century'

Margaret Bunch, aged 20, a domestic servant, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Apelles" in 1878

Contemporary Notables of the name Bunch (post 1700)

Jon Bunch (1970-2016), American rock singer and songwriter Melvin Lynn Bunch Jr. (b. 1971), American former Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1995 to 1999 Charles E. Bunch (b. 1953), American Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PPG Industries, Inc Lonnie G. Bunch III (b. 1952), American educator and historian, former director of the Chicago Historical Society, founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture Kenji Bunch (b. 1973), American violist and composer Velton Ray Bunch (b. 1948), American Emmy Award winning film and television composer Jarrod Ray Bunch (b. 1968), former American NFL football fullback who played from 1991 to 1994 Tyler Bunch (b. 1970), American puppeteer, puppet designer, director and actor who worked for the Jim Henson Company and later for Disney's The Muppets Studio Pat Bunch, American country music songwriter Samuel Bunch (1786-1849), American politician, Member of the United States House of Representatives for Tennessee (1833-1837)


^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3) ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)



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Categories: Bunch Name Study