What's In A Name?

The surname Punch may have it origins in Ireland and it is quite common there.  Irish probably made it to the western side of England, particularly Cornwall, Dorset and the Isle of Wight centuries ago.  It has many forms of spelling including Punche, Ponce, Ponche, Pounch and Pounche.

It could have its roots in medieval French.  One possible origin is from the word "poynte" or "pointe" which could have been introduced to England by the Normans.  "Pointe" could mean the twisting of threads or leather to make a cord to fasten clothing like laces.  It could also mean "pointing" in building where mortar is added to the joints of brickwork or tiles to seal water out.  Another option is a derivation of the word "ponz" or "pons" referring to a bridge or someone who lived by a bridge.

The surname Punch can be found in Ireland since the 13th century, and is now found in Cork and Limerick.  The progenitor of the Irish Punch family was Magister Pons de St, David, two of whose sons crossed from Pembrokeshire, Wales, to Ireland.  Pons was a Christian name favoured among some Norman and Aquitanian families in the Middle Ages.  The Chief Herald of Canada has recognized the significance of the name Pons by granting arms on which the punning charge of a bridge is displayed.

My earliest Punch ancestor seems to come from Dorset, England - not a very large jump from Ireland.

1.  http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Punch
2.  The Irish Genealogist, Vo.12, No. 1 (2006)