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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

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.


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]

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.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gurney research. Another 399 words (28 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.


Another 107 words (8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gurney Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


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
  • Joane Gurney, who arrived in Virginia in 1656

Gurney Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • James Gurney, who landed in New York, NY in 1812
  • L B Gurney, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • Peter Gurney, who arrived in Arkansas in 1890

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
  • Josiah Gurney, English convict from Hertfordshire, who was transported aboard the "Anna Maria" on March 6, 1848, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • Cornelius Gurney arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Bolton" in 1848
  • Daniel Gurney, aged 24, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Fatima"
  • Joseph Gurney, aged 45, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Norman"

Gurney Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • F. Gurney arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bellissima" in 1864
  • Joseph Gurney, aged 32, a bricklayer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bebington" in 1872
  • Emma Gurney, aged 28, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bebington" in 1872
  • Daniel Gurney, aged 23, a labourer, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Dilharree" in 1875
  • Elizabeth Gurney, aged 17, a servant, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rangitikei" in 1884


  • Brigadier-General Augustus Milton Gurney (1895-1967), American Commanding General Camp Earle, Alaska (1945-1946)
  • James L. Gurney, American politician, Member of New Jersey State House of Assembly from Essex County, 1869-70
  • John Chandler Gurney (1896-1985), American Republican politician, U.S. Senator from South Dakota, 1939-51
  • Orin J. Gurney, American politician, Mayor of Newburyport, Massachusetts, 1892-95
  • T. S. Gurney, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Michigan, 1888
  • 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
  • E. R. Gurney, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Nebraska, 1916
  • Chester Gurney, American politician, Candidate for Governor of Michigan, 1847
  • 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
  • C. E. Gurney, American Democrat politician, Chair of Webster County Democratic Party, 1940



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  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  3. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  4. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  5. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  6. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  7. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  8. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  9. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  10. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  11. ...

The Gurney Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Gurney Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 18 April 2016 at 13:57.

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