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. [1]

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." [2]

To underline the long and steeped history of the family we include this early entry. Sir Matthew Gourney (1310?-1406), was an English soldier, "fourth son of Thomas Gourney, one of the murderers of Edward II, who was afterwards banished from England, and in the parliament held at the end of 1330 was condemned during his absence. Next year he was arrested at Burgos in Spain, but escaped, only, however, to be recaptured at the end of 1332 at Naples; he died in 1333 while on his way back to England as a prisoner. Mathew Gourney was born at Stoke-under-Hamden in Somersetshire about 1310. He became a distinguished soldier of fortune. Froissart terms him a ‘moult vaillans chevalier.’ He was first mentioned as being at the battle of the Sluys (1340). " [3]

Early History of 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, 1641, 1688, 1741, 1655, 1721, 1683 and 1685 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 Equality of Men and Women (1622) and The Ladies' Grievance (Les femmes et Grief des dames, 1626); Sir Thomas de Gournay; and Sir...
Another 53 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gurney Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States 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 [4]
  • Joane Gurney, who arrived in Virginia in 1656 [4]
Gurney Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Gurney, who landed in New York, NY in 1812 [4]
  • L B Gurney, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [4]
  • Peter Gurney, who arrived in Arkansas in 1890 [4]

Australia 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 [5]
  • Mr. Ephraim Croft Gurney, British convict who was convicted in Bedford, Bedfordshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Bussorah Merchant" on 1st October 1829, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [6]
  • Mr. Conlay Gurney who was convicted in Edinburgh, Scotland for life, transported aboard the "Bengal Merchant" on 4th August 1836, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [7]
  • Mr. Edward Gurney, British Convict who was convicted in London, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Asiatic" on 26th May 1843, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [8]
  • Cornelius Gurney, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Bolton" in 1848 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand 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 [10]
  • 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) [11]
  • 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 [12]
  • 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 [12]
  • E. R. Gurney, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Nebraska, 1916 [12]
  • Chester Gurney, American politician, Candidate for Governor of Michigan, 1847 [12]
  • 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 [12]
  • ... (Another 19 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Harry Gurney, British Able Bodied Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [13]


  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  4. ^ 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)
  5. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Albion voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1826 with 192 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/albion/1826
  6. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 10th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/bussorah-merchant
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/bengal-merchant
  8. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asiatic
  9. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) BOLTON 1848. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1848Bolton.htm
  10. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  11. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, October 11) Augustus Gurney. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Gurney/Augustus_Milton/USA.html
  12. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, February 1) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  13. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html


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