Gurnie History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Gurnie is one of the many new names that came to England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Gurnie family lived in Gournay-en-Brai in the Siene-Maritime region of France. [1]

Early Origins of the Gurnie family

The surname Gurnie 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. [2]

Another source differs with the spellings and origin of the name. "Hugo de Gournay, Lord of Gournay, in Normandy, who bore, for arms, pure sable, was one of the barons who commanded at the battle of Mortimer, against the French in 1054. Subsequently, coming over to England with Duke William, he participated in the victory of Hastings, and was rewarded with the manorial grants in Essex, which he held at the period of the General Survey. His son, Gerard de Gournay, Baron of Gournay, in Normandy, and Baron of Yarmouth in England, greatly increased his power and influence, by marrying the Conqueror's granddaughter, Editha, dau. of William de Warren, Earl of Surrey." [3]

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." [4]

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). " [5]

We now move to Bideford, Devon where a famous bridge was erected. "It is quite uncertain when it was built, the early records having been destroyed ; but, as the oldest seal of

the borough in existence, of fourteenth-century date, has the bridge for device, so old at least must Bideford Bridge be. According to tradition, no foundation could be laid until Sir Richard Gornard, or Gurney, the parish priest, dreamt that a rock had been rolled to the site to serve for that purpose, and, going there in the morning, found his dream accomplished ; whereupon the work was soon completed. " [6]

Early History of the Gurnie family

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

Gurnie 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 Gurnie 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 Gurnie Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Gurnie family

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 Gurnie or a variant listed above were: Edward and John Gurney who settled in Cambridge Massachusetts in 1630; Etienne Gournet settled in Louisiana in 1757.



  1. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  5. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  6. ^ Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital


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