Gurney History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms 

Gurney is one of the thousands of new names that the Norman Conquest brought to England in 1066. The Gurney family lived in Gournay-en-Brai in the Siene-Maritime region of France.

Early Origins of the Gurney family

The surname Gurney 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 Gurney family

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

Gurney Spelling Variations

Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Gourney, Gurney, Gurnie, Gurnee, Gournie, Gournee, Gurnay, Gournay, Gurnard and many more.

Early Notables of the Gurney 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 Gurney Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gurney migration to the United States

Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Gurney or a variant listed above:

Gurney Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Edward and John Gurney who settled in Cambridge Massachusetts in 1630
  • Edward Gurney, who landed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1636 [2]
  • Joane Gurney, who arrived in Virginia in 1656 [2]
Gurney Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Gurney, who landed in New York, NY in 1812 [2]
  • L B Gurney, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [2]
  • Peter Gurney, who arrived in Arkansas in 1890 [2]

Gurney migration to Australia

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

Gurney Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Gurney, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on September 21, 1826, settling in New South Wales, Australia [3]
  • Josiah Gurney, English convict from Hertfordshire, who was transported aboard the "Anna Maria" on March 6, 1848, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [4]
  • Cornelius Gurney, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Bolton" in 1848 [5]
  • Daniel Gurney, aged 24, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Fatima" [6]
  • Joseph Gurney, aged 45, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Norman"
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Gurney 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:

Gurney Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • F. Gurney, who arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bellissima" in 1864
  • Joseph Gurney, aged 32, a bricklayer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bebington" in 1872
  • Emma Gurney, aged 28, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bebington" in 1872
  • Miss Julia Gurney, (b. 1854), aged 20, English servant from Surrey travelling from London aboard the ship "Tweed" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 4th September 1874 [7]
  • Daniel Gurney, aged 23, a labourer, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Dilharree" in 1875
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Gurney (post 1700)

  • Dan Gurney (1931-2018), American racing driver, race car constructor, and team owner, one of the most important figures in the history of American auto racing, inducted into The International Motorsports Hall of Fame
  • Brigadier-General Augustus Milton Gurney (1895-1967), American Commanding General Camp Earle, Alaska (1945-1946) [8]
  • Edward John Gurney, American politician
  • Alex Gurney (b. 1974), American professional auto racing driver and son of Dan Gurney
  • A R Gurney (b. 1930), American playwright and novelist
  • J. T. Gurney, American politician, Member of South Dakota State House of Representatives 11th District, 1907-08, 1917-18 [9]
  • Edward John Gurney (1914-1996), American Republican politician, Mayor of Winter Park, Florida, 1961-62; U.S. Representative from Florida, 1963-69; U.S. Senator from Florida, 1969-74 [9]
  • E. R. Gurney, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Nebraska, 1916 [9]
  • Chester Gurney, American politician, Candidate for Governor of Michigan, 1847 [9]
  • Charles Edwin Gurney (b. 1874), American Republican politician, Member of Maine State House of Representatives, 1917; Member of Maine State Senate 2nd District, 1919-22 [9]
  • ... (Another 19 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Historic Events for the Gurney family

HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Harry Gurney, British Able Bodied Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [10]

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  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. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Albion voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1826 with 192 passengers. Retrieved from
  4. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2015, January 8) Anna Maria voyage to Van Diemen's Land or Port Phillip, Australia in 1848 with 190 passengers. Retrieved from
  5. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) BOLTON 1848. Retrieved from
  6. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The barque FATIMA 1850, 521 tons. Retrieved
  7. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from
  8. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, October 11) Augustus Gurney. Retrieved from
  9. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, February 1) . Retrieved from
  10. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from
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