Gurnett History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The history of the Gurnett family name begins after the Norman Conquest of 1066. They lived in Gournay-en-Brai in the Siene-Maritime region of France.

Early Origins of the Gurnett family

The surname Gurnett was first found in Norfolk where they held a family seat as Lords of the manor of Bray, and were granted the lands by William the Conqueror for their assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D. It is claimed that this ancient race was one of the first Vikings to settle in Normandy, and became Lords of Gournay, which became a town, Gournai-n-Brai, in the arrondisement of Newfchatel. There were two Hughs of Gournays at the Battle of Hastings, father and son, and their son Gerard de Gournay married Edith the daughter of Gundrada, the daughter of William the Conqueror. Farrington-Gurney in Somerset was the site of an ancient family seat. "This place takes the adjunct to its name from the Gournays, its ancient possessors, of whom Sir Thomas de Gournay was concerned in the murder of Edward II. at Berkeley Castle, for which his estates were confiscated." [1]

Important Dates for the Gurnett family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gurnett research. Another 200 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1665, 1655, 1721, 1719, 1779, 1721, 1777, 1770, 1896, 1641, 1565, 1645, 1622, 1626 and 1641 are included under the topic Early Gurnett History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gurnett 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 Gourney, Gurney, Gurnie, Gurnee, Gournie, Gournee, Gurnay, Gournay, Gurnard and many more.

Early Notables of the Gurnett family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Marie de Gournay (1565-1645), a French writer, who wrote a novel and a number of other literary compositions, including two protofeminist works, The...
Another 31 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gurnett Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gurnett migration to the United States

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 Gurnett or a variant listed above were:

Gurnett Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Gurnett, who landed in Virginia in 1650 [2]
  • Thomas Gurnett, who arrived in Maryland in 1661 [2]
Gurnett Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • M. T. Gurnett, aged 30, who landed in America, in 1909
  • Michael T. Gurnett, aged 30, who immigrated to America, in 1910
  • Mrs. M. T. Gurnett, aged 24, who landed in America, in 1910
  • Thomas E. Gurnett, aged 2, who immigrated to the United States, in 1915
  • Ellen M. Gurnett, aged 28, who immigrated to the United States, in 1915

Contemporary Notables of the name Gurnett (post 1700)

  • Terry Gurnett (b. 1955), American Head coach of women's soccer at the University of Rochester
  • William James Gurnett (d. 1911), American politician, Member of California State Assembly 9th District, 1873-75 [3]
  • John W. Gurnett Jr. (d. 1971), American Democrat politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Schuyler County, 1923; Defeated, 1923; Chair of Schuyler County Democratic Party, 1927, 1955 [3]
  • John W. Gurnett Sr., American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Schuyler County, 1905-06, 1911-13 [3]
  • Jim Gurnett, Canadian politician, member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta (1985 to 1986)
  • George Gurnett (1792-1861), English-born, Canadian journalist and politician
  • Jane Gurnett (b. 1956), British actress


  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, February 1) . Retrieved from
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