Gurnall History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Gurnall family

The surname Gurnall 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 Gurnall family

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

Gurnall Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Gornay, Gornaye, Gurnay, Gurnard, Gorney, Gornal, Gornall, Gurnell, Garney, Garny, Garnie and many more.

Early Notables of the Gurnall family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the Gurnall family

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Gurnall 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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