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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Where did the English Gurney family come from? What is the English Gurney family crest and coat of arms? When did the Gurney family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Gurney family history?

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.


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.

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.


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


  • Edward John Gurney, American politician
  • A R Gurney (b. 1930), American playwright and novelist
  • Alex Gurney (b. 1974), American professional auto racing driver and son of Dan Gurney
  • Dan Gurney (b. 1931), one of the most important figures in the history of American auto racing
  • Brigadier-General Augustus Milton Gurney (1895-1967), American Commanding General Camp Earle, Alaska (1945-1946)
  • Anna Gurney (1795-1857), Old English scholar
  • Ivor Gurney (1890-1937), English composer and war poet
  • Rachel Gurney (1920-2001), English actress
  • John Gurney (1749-1809), English banker and member of the Gurney family of Norwich
  • Samuel Gurney (1786-1856), English banker and philanthropist of the Gurney family of Norwich



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  1. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  2. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  3. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  4. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  5. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  6. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  7. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  8. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  9. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  10. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  11. ...

The Gurney Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com 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 12 February 2015 at 08:35.

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