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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the English Gurney family come from? What is the English Gurney family crest and coat of arms? When did the Gurney family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Gurney family history?

Gurney is one of the thousands of new names that the Norman Conquest brought to England in 1066. The Gurney family lived in Gournay-en-Brai in the Siene-Maritime region of France.

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Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Gourney, Gurney, Gurnie, Gurnee, Gournie, Gournee, Gurnay, Gournay, Gurnard and many more.

First found in Norfolk where they held a family seat as Lords of the manor of Bray, and were granted the lands by William the Conqueror for their assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D. It is claimed that this ancient race was one of the first Vikings to settle in Normandy, and became Lords of Gournay, which became a town, Gournai-n-Brai, in the arrondisement of Newfchatel. There were two Hughs of Gournays at the Battle of Hastings, father and son, and their son Gerard de Gournay married Edith the daughter of Gundrada, the daughter of William the Conqueror.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gurney research. Another 399 words(28 lines of text) covering the years 1665, 1655, 1721, 1719, 1779, 1721, 1777, 1770, 1896, 1641 and 1641 are included under the topic Early Gurney History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 27 words(2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gurney Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Gurney or a variant listed above:

Gurney Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Edward and John Gurney who settled in Cambridge Massachusetts in 1630
  • Edward Gurney, who landed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1636
  • Joane Gurney, who arrived in Virginia in 1656

Gurney Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • James Gurney, who landed in New York, NY in 1812
  • L B Gurney, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • Peter Gurney, who arrived in Arkansas in 1890

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  • Edward John Gurney, American politician
  • A R Gurney (b. 1930), American playwright and novelist
  • Alex Gurney (b. 1974), American professional auto racing driver and son of Dan Gurney
  • Dan Gurney (b. 1931), one of the most important figures in the history of American auto racing
  • Brigadier-General Augustus Milton Gurney (1895-1967), American Commanding General Camp Earle, Alaska (1945-1946)
  • Anna Gurney (1795-1857), Old English scholar
  • Ivor Gurney (1890-1937), English composer and war poet
  • Rachel Gurney (1920-2001), English actress
  • John Gurney (1749-1809), English banker and member of the Gurney family of Norwich
  • Samuel Gurney (1786-1856), English banker and philanthropist of the Gurney family of Norwich

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  1. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  3. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  4. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  5. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  6. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  7. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  8. Crispin, M. Jackson and Leonce Mary. Falaise Roll Recording Prominent Companions of William Duke of Normandy at the Conquest of England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  10. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  11. ...

The Gurney Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gurney Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 20 May 2014 at 00:20.

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