Gurnell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Gurnell family

The surname Gurnell 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 Gurnell family

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

Gurnell Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Gurnell are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Gurnell include Gornay, Gornaye, Gurnay, Gurnard, Gorney, Gornal, Gornall, Gurnell, Garney, Garny, Garnie and many more.

Early Notables of the Gurnell family (pre 1700)

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


United States Gurnell migration to the United States +

Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Gurnell, or a variant listed above:

Gurnell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Gurnell, who landed in Massachusetts in 1643 [5]


  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
  5. ^ 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)


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