Gurnay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
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Early Origins of the Gurnay family
The surname Gurnay was first found in Somerset where Ancell, Anselm de Gornay was listed in the Assize Rolls of 1269.  "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." 
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." 
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." 
Early History of the Gurnay family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gurnay 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 Gurnay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Gurnay Spelling Variations
Before the last few hundred years the English language had no fixed system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations occurred commonly in Anglo Norman surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Gurnay were recorded, including Gornay, Gornaye, Gurnay, Gurnard, Gorney, Gornal, Gornall, Gurnell, Garney, Garny, Garnie and many more.
Early Notables of the Gurnay family (pre 1700)
More information is included under the topic Early Gurnay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Gurnay family
The unstable environment in England at this time caused numerous families to board ships and leave in search of opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad in places like Ireland, Australia, and particularly the New World. The voyage was extremely difficult, however, and only taken at great expense. The cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels caused many to arrive diseased and starving, not to mention destitute from the enormous cost. Still opportunity in the emerging nations of Canada and the United States was far greater than at home and many went on to make important contributions to the cultures of their adopted countries. An examination of many early immigration records reveals that people bearing the name Gurnay arrived in North America very early: 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..
- Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
- Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
- Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
- 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