Gornal History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Gornal family

The surname Gornal was first found in Somerset where Ancell, Anselm de Gornay was listed in the Assize Rolls of 1269. [1] "We are told that there were two Hugh de Gournays at the battle of Hastings. The two Hughs received grants of lands in which county the name is still strong." [2]

Another source provides more details and a pointer to their earlier origin: "This ancient race accompanied Rollo into Neustria and became lords of Gournay, whence their name. Gournai-en-Brai is a town in the arrondissement of Neufchatel. There were two Hugh de Gournays at the battle of Hastings, the father, an old man, leading on his vassals of Bray." [3]

Here's another entry on the same topic: "This is a name of note in the history of the Conquest, and belonged to one of the first baronial families of Normandy. They occupied the frontier district called Pays de Brai, an essart of the ancient Forest of Lyons, and an important post in the defense of the Duchy, that had been allotted to their ancestor by Rollo himself, and bore the name Gournay, the head of their barony. They continued to hold this great fief till the time of King John, when it was seized by Philip Augustus. One remaining tower of their castle - "La Tour Hue" - was still standing at the beginning of the seventeenth century. This marvelous fortress is supposed to have been built by the father or grandfather of Hugh de Gournay who was one of the chief commanders at the victory of Montemar in 1054." [4]

Early History of the Gornal family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gornal research. Another 161 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1510, 1600, 1541, 1455, 1487, 1617 and 1679 are included under the topic Early Gornal History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gornal Spelling Variations

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 Gornay, Gornaye, Gurnay, Gurnard, Gorney, Gornal, Gornall, Gurnell, Garney, Garny, Garnie and many more.

Early Notables of the Gornal family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Gornal Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Gornal family

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 Gornal or a variant listed above: settlers who were recorded from the mid 17th century in the great migration from Europe. Migrants settled in the eastern seaboard from Newfoundland, to Maine, to Virginia, the Carolinas, and to the islands..



  1. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 2 of 3


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