Gourlay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Gourlay family

The surname Gourlay was first found in Lothian, where "Ingelram de Gourlay is believed to have accompanied William the Lion from England in 1174, and witnesses one of his charters about 1200." [1]

Another source notes a Latin version of the forename (Ingelramus) and adds he "held land in Clydesdale and in Lothian. His son, Hugh de Gerley, possessed lands in Fife and Lothians, and some time after 1180 witnessed a charter by Ingelram de Balliol of the church of Inuerkileder to Abbey of Arnbroath. A later lngeramus Gerle was witness, 1244, Hugh Gurle and William Gerle were present at a conference at Roxbergh, 1254, and William, son of William Gerlay, made a gift to Abbey of Newbattle, 1293. " [2]

The invasion by King Edward I of England in 1296 forced many to either "render homage" to the king or lose their lands, frequently dying by the sword. "Several of the name rendered homage in 1296, viz. Roger Gourlay, William de Gurleye, Huwe de Gerleghe, and Patrick de Gerleghe, parson of the church of Loghorwerde, all four of the county of Edinbergh (Bain, II, p. 208). Adam de Gurle of Roxburghe also rendered homage, and as Adam de Goerlay appears as witness at Roxburgh, 1304." [2]

Early History of the Gourlay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gourlay research. Another 233 words (17 lines of text) covering the years 1174, 1300, 1320, 1303, 1435, 1328, 1330, 1380, 1392, 1395, 1529, 1546 and are included under the topic Early Gourlay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gourlay Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Gourlay, Gurley, Gourley, Gourlie and others.

Early Notables of the Gourlay family (pre 1700)

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

Ireland Migration of the Gourlay family to Ireland

Some of the Gourlay family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 74 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Gourlay migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Gourlay Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • William Gourlay, who arrived in America in 1679 [3]
Gourlay Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James Gourlay, who arrived in America in 1773 [3]
  • Alexander Gourlay, who landed in New York in 1795 [3]
  • Thomas Gourlay, who landed in New York in 1799 [3]
Gourlay Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Gourlay, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1832

Australia Gourlay migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Gourlay Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Gourlay, Scottish convict who was convicted in Perth, Scotland for 14 years, transported aboard the "Bussorah Merchant" on 1st October 1829, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [4]
  • Mr. William Gourlay, (b. 1822), aged 19, Irish carpenter from Antrim, Northern Ireland departing on 8th July 1841 from Greenock, Scotland aboard the ship "New York Packet" arriving in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 23rd October 1841 [5]
  • Andrew Gourlay, aged 25, who arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Hydaspes" [6]
  • Andrew Gourlay, aged 25, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Hydaspes" in 1851 [6]
  • Margaret Gourlay, aged 29, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Hydaspes" in 1851 [6]

New Zealand Gourlay migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Gourlay Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • George Gourlay a blacksmith, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Lady Nugent" in 1850
  • James Gourlay, aged 46, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Seringapatam" in 1856
  • Mr. Thomas Gourlay, (b. 1831), aged 32, British farm labourer travelling from London aboard the ship "David G. Fleming" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 9th December 1863 [7]
  • Miss Jane Gourlay, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Sir George Pollock" arriving in Bluff, Southland, South Island, New Zealand in January 1863 [8]

Contemporary Notables of the name Gourlay (post 1700) +

  • Janet A. Gourlay (1863-1912), Scottish Egyptologist
  • Harry Philip Heggie Gourlay (1916-1987), Scottish Labour Party politician from 1959 to 1987
  • Robert Gourlay (1778-1863), Scottish-Canadian writer, political reform activist, and agriculturalist
  • Mr. David Young Gourlay M.B.E., British Head Coach for Scotland Lawn Bowls, was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire on 8th June 2018, for services to Bowls [9]
  • General Sir Basil Ian Spencer Gourlay KCB, CVO, OBE, MC (1920-2013), British Royal Marines officer, Commandant General Royal Marines (1971-1975)
  • Henry Gourlay (1895-1970), New Zealand cricket umpire
  • John Bell Gourlay (1872-1949), Canadian gold medalist soccer player at the 1904 Summer Olympics
  • Brigadier Kenneth Ian Gourlay (1891-1970), British Commanding Officer British Troops on Bermuda (1937) [10]
  • James Gourlay, British conductor and internationally renowned tuba soloist
  • Douglas MacLeod Gourlay (b. 1929), Canadian politician

HMS Royal Oak
  • James Ross Graham Mcintosh Gourlay (1919-1939), British Able Seaman with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [11]


The Gourlay Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Profunda cernit
Motto Translation: He comprehends profound things.


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  3. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  4. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 10th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/bussorah-merchant
  5. ^ Ship Voyages to New South Wales (Retrieved 18th November 2020). Retrieved from http://indexes.records.nsw.gov.au/ebook/list.aspx?Page=NRS5316/4_4782/New%20York%20Packet_23%20Oct%201841/4_478200095.jpg&No=201
  6. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) HYDASPES 1851. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1851Hydaspes.htm
  7. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  8. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  9. ^ "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62310, 4 July 2019 | London Gazette, The Gazette, June 2018, https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/62310/supplement/B1
  10. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, October 5) Kenneth Gourlay. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Gourlay/Kenneth_Ian/Great_Britain.html
  11. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html


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