- This name is of Norman locational origin from a place in Sein-Maritime called Gournay (-en-Brai). The name derives from the Gallo-Roman personal Gordinus, plus the local suffix -acum meaning a village or settlement. The surname from this source is first recorded in the latter half of the 11th Century, (see below). The namebearer fought in the Battle of Hastings for William the Conqueror and was granted lands in England. One Adam de Gurnay appears in the 1196 "Pipe Rolls of Northamptonshire" and an Anselm de Gurney in the 1273 "Hundred Rolls of Gloucestershire". An interesting namebearer was Sir Goldsworthy Gurney (1793 - 1875), inventor, his steam carriage went from London to Bath at the rate of fifteen miles an hour in 1829 and in 1854 - 1863, he supervised the lighting in the new houses of parliament. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugo de (of) Gurnai, which was dated 1086 in the Domesday Book of Essex, during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.
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