Gornaye History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Gornaye family

The surname Gornaye 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 Gornaye family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gornaye 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 Gornaye History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gornaye Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Gornay, Gornaye, Gurnay, Gurnard, Gorney, Gornal, Gornall, Gurnell, Garney, Garny, Garnie and many more.

Early Notables of the Gornaye family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the Gornaye family

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Gornaye or a variant listed above were: 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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