Some Background on the Name

When researching this family name, one must be alert to many variations in its spelling -- NUNALEE, NUNLY, NUNLEA, NUNNERLY, NUNNALLY, NUNALEA, NUNLEY and, according to some researchers, perhaps seven or eight additional spellings. Some believe the name derives from a name popular in seventeenth century England -- NUNN. The origin of NUNALEE most likely is from the word nunn which meant meadow. Thus, "Nunn - a - lee" meant "out of the meadow."

Ship manifests show a Thomas NUNN, age 22, who sailed from England on the David bound for Virginia in 1635. On April 15, 1635, a Richard NUNN, age 19, sailed from England on the ship Increase bound for Boston. It is quite possible that one or both of these Nunns are related to people with the name NUNNALLY that appear in Henrico County, VA as early as 1640. Later 1782 and 1783 Virginia records reveal several families with these names living in Charlotte, Chesterfield, Halifax and Powhatan counties. Most interesting to me are the listings of an Alexander NUNLEY in the 1782 Continental Census for Charlotte County and of several  NUNALLY families in the same census for Halifax County. These families were located in close proximity to a principal migratory route at that time to North Carolina, the Roanoke River.

The first North Carolina recorded NUNALY  I have included in my database is one Alexander NUNELY who appeared in the 1810 Cumberland County census: age 45 and over, 1 male under 10 and 1 female 45 and over. The 1820 census for adjacent Bladen County lists this information for one Alexander NUNLY: FWM: 3 age 10 and under; 1 age 10-16; 1 age 16-26; 1 age 18-26; 1 age 45 & up; FWF: 2 10-16; 1 45 & up. During this period the line separating Bladen and Cumberland counties was moved and it appears that the 1810 and 1820 censuses relate to the same Alexander at the same physical location. Either the 1810 census enumeration was deficient or, and more likely, Alexander was joined by other family members in the 1820 census. A Soundex search of the 1830 censuses for eastern North Carolina for any surname resembling NUNLEY yielded no results. Perhaps some reader will kindly share some information with me.

Alexander NUNNERLY died in March 1840 in Bladen County at the age of 72. This places his birth about 1768. No doubt this is the same Alexander listed in the aforementioned 1810 and 1820 censuses.  A marriage record shows his name spelled "NUNLEY." To my knowledge, no connection has been proved between this Alexander NUNNERLY (NUNLEY) and the NUNALEE families of Virginia; however, I consider it very likely.

Alexander Nunnerly (NUNALEE) and Descendants

Alexander NUNNERLY was born about 1768 and died March 18, 1840 in Bladen County, NC. In Cumberland County in April 1803, he married Sally JORDAN, likely the daughter of Matthew JORDAN. They had a son, Thomas. There may have been other children.

Name Changes -- Early records are replete with multiple name spellings for the same individual. Frequently it was due to copying errors because of illegible handwriting. Quite often those entering information into records relied on the phonetic spelling, given the fact that many people were illiterate and were not sure how to spell their own names. I found it interesting that the surname of Alexander Nunnerly's son, Thomas, is spelled "NUNALEE." On March 26, 1844, Sally NUNNERLY, by that time a widow, was one of nine parties who executed a document appointing an attorney for the purpose of seeking a distribution of property. This record can be found in Cumberland County Deeds, Book 45, page 332. Though listed in the document as "Sally NUNNERLY", she signed it as "Sarah NUNALEE."

Children of Alexander NUNNERLY and his wife, Sarah "Sally" JORDAN:

  1. Thomas NUNALEE, b 18 Jun 1813; d 4 Jul 1866; m Rutha McDaniel, b 4 Apr 1821 d 16 Jun 1898; lived in Cumberland County. They had the following six offspring:

    1. William Love NUNALEE -- born in 1847 in Cumberland Co. NC, died in 1914 in Pender County, NC; m Sabra Jane HALL, born Apr 18, 1842 in Cumberland Co. NC, died Jan 6, 1910 in NC. She was the daughter of Haywood HALL, SR. William and Sabra Jane had the following four offspring:
    2. Elam NUNALEE, b 1850; no other information known to me.
    3. John A. NUNALEE b 1853 in Cumberland Co., NC, d unknown; m Maryan ?; They had one daughter, Lillian, b 1879.
    4. Robert Henry NUNALEE b 10 Sep 1856 in Cumberland County, d 27 Jul 1893 in Cumberland County; on 18 Dec 1879 m Catherine "Kate" SMITH, b Mar 1860, d 6 Jun 1916 in Cumberland County. They had 3 daughters and 3 sons. Click here for details.
    5. Sarah "Sally" NUNALEE, b 10 Jan 1861 in Cumberland County, d 15 Oct 1908 in Cumberland County; m Haywood HALL, JR., b 12 Dec 1849, d 17 Oct 1918 in Cumberland County. They had 2 daughters and 3 sons.
    6. Charles Lee NUNALEE, b 24 Sep 1863 in Cumberland County, d 1942 in Cumberland County; m Elizabeth Queen JOHNSON, b 1861 in Randolph Co. NC, d 18 Mar 1918 in Cumberland County. They had 1 son and 2 daughters.

Children of William Love NUNALEE and his wife, Sabra Jane HALL:

  1. Alice NUNALEE, b 1868, d 1957; m Mack Lloyd BELL, b 1850, d 1925.
  2. William Marshall NUNALEE, SR, b 20 May 1877, d 5 Jun 1959; m Alice C. SINGLETARY, b 19 May 1886, d 27 Mar 1951. They had one son.
  3. Thomas Hervey NUNALEE, SR. b 4 Oct 1882 in Cumberland Co. NC, d 10 Jan 1952 in Atkinson, NC; m Minnie Ethel "Tody" CROOM, b 23 Nov 1884 in Pender Co. NC, d 3 Jul 1968 in Atkinson, NC. They had two daughters and one son.
  4. Mack Lloyd NUNALEE, b 1 Apr 1885 in Cumberland County, d 4 Jul 1974; m Nellie Jane DeVANE, b 15 Sep 1890 and d 16 Aug 1918.

Children of Robert Henry NUNALEE and his wife, Kate SMITH:

  1. Mattie J. NUNALEE, b 1881, d 1906; m J. A. McLEAN.
  2. Elam NUNALEE, b 20 Sep 1883, d Dec 1973 Scotland Co., NC; believed m to unk 23 Jul 1908.
  3. Murdock NUNALEE, b 20 Nov 1885 in Cumberland County, d 19 Jan 1974 in Wilmington, NC; m Rena Belle CROOM, b 24 Mar 1883, d 8 Apr 1952; dau of Gaston H. CROOM and his wife, Caroline Jane PIGFORD. Murdock and Rena Belle had one dau and one son.
  4. Minnie L. NUNALEE b in 1887 in Cumberland County; m J. BECKMAN, b 1884; They had one daughter and one son.
  5. Robert Lee NUNALEE b 1890; m Martha KINSAIDS, b 1873, d 1922. They had one son and three daughters. Click for details below.
  6. Sallie NUNALEE, b 1892, d 1986; m Sandy WHEELER, b 1884, d 1973. They had three sons and two daughters.

Children of Sarah "Sally" NUNALEE and Haywood HALL, JR:

  1. Janie Isabelle HALL b 27 Dec 1879 in Cumberland County, d 26 Jul 1964 in Fayetteville, NC. On 5 Nov 1902, she married John Henry CROOM, SR, b 5 Nov 1875 in Pender County, NC, d 17 Jun 1958 in Fayetteville, NC. He was the son of Nathan Richard CROOM, JR, and his wife, Mary Elizabeth HENRY. John and Janie had one daughter and two sons.
  2. Amelia HALL, b 1884 in Cumberland County, d 1961 in Fayetteville, NC; m Blackburn GOFORTH, b 1880, d in Fayetteville, NC. They had one daughter and two sons.
  3. Tracy Ivey HALL, b 15 Mar 1886 in Cumberland County, d Sep 1966 in Fayetteville, NC; m Alice Butler CARTER, b 1895, d 1955 in Fayetteville, NC. They had two sons and one daughter.
  4. June HALL, b 6 Jun 1888 in Cumberland County, d 21 Mar 1941 in Fayetteville, NC; m Jessie Lee JACKSON, dau of Cornelius K. JACKSON and his wife, Eliza Bessie COX. June and Jessie had two daughters.
  5. Thomas HALL, b 1891 in Cumberland County, d in Rocky Mount, NC; m Lucille BULLOCK, b abt 1890, d in Rocky Mount NC. They had one daughter.

Children of Charles Lee NUNALEE and his wife, Elizabeth Queen JOHNSON:

  1. John Ransom NUNALEE, b 1888 in Cumberland County, d 1951; m Ida May WILLS, b 1895, d 1971. They had five daughters and one son.
  2. Pearl Eugenia NUNALEE, b 1891 in Cumberland County.
  3. Ettie Ruth NUNALEE, b 1889, d 1978; m Joseph PATE, b in Cumberland County. They had one son and four daughters.

Very likely Thomas NUNALEE, born in 1813, had siblings. It is quite possible that some members of his family joined the large migration of North Carolinians to the South and West between 1800 and 1860.

If you have any information which tracks the NUNALEE surname back to North Carolina during the period prior to 1860, I would like to hear from you. I am especially eager to learn more about Alexander NUNNERLY, born in 1768.




This page was last revised on 18 February 2006

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