Tong blog

Bits of history from our familes

Your name is Tong?

I get asked about our last name a lot and in all sorts of ways.
How do you spell your last name?
Where did it come from?
You don’t look like a Tong.
Where did your family come from?

One of the most creative was when my wife (who used to teach school) was asked by a parent of one of her elementary students if our kids looked like her or her husband.

So, here is what we know about the Tong surname.

The name of Tong is used to describe the ‘tongue’ of land formed by the two streams come together. There are several different spellings including Tong, Tongue and Tonge.

Herald Stout summarized his findings about the Tong(ue) family name and I have included it on the web site (titled Origin of the Tong(ue) family name) . He says “The name apparently derives from two sources: from de Tongue, a genealogical name in Norman French and as a place name, either geographical or descriptive as atte Tongue, i.e, being on a tongue of land or peninsula.”

He describes two places named Tong, one being Tong Hall in the parish of Prestwich-cum-Oldham, Lancashire, during the XIV Century.

Showing location of Tonge (Tonge Hall) in Prestwich-cum-Oldham parish.

Showing location of Tonge (Tonge Hall) in Prestwich-cum-Oldham parish.

Harald also mentioned a Tong village in Shropshire, where the surname still exists (as does the village).

Map of Tong in Shropshire county.

Map of Tong in Shropshire county.

In the village, Tong Church (St. Bartholomew’s Church) still stands. When we lived in England, we were fortunate enough to visit Tong and see this church and take some pictures.

Road sign for the Village of Tong with Tong Church in the background.

Road sign for the Village of Tong with Tong Church in the background.

Here is a better picture of the church

Tong Church (St Bartholomew's Church), Shropshire, England

Tong Church (St Bartholomew’s Church), Shropshire, England

Tong was also the location of Tong Castle. The original castle was built during the 12th century. From then until 1954, a castle or castle ruins stood on the grounds.

Tong Castle in about 1731

Tong Castle in about 1731

Around 1765, everything was demolished and then rebuilt by George Durant. In 1911, it was damaged by fire. Over time, this turned to ruins. In 1954 it was demolished and eventually the M54 motorway (interstate) was built through the castle location.

I have never seen conclusive information of exactly the Tong that came to America to start our line. There are several Tongs that show up starting in 1649. Our William Tong likely came from one of them. One possibility is Ffriendship Tongue who arrived in Maryland in 1650.

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