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Archiver > GURNEY > 2002-09 > 1033271129

Subject: Gurney Origins---According to Jean Gurney Rigler
Date: Sat, 28 Sep 2002 23:45:32 EDT


(Mainly concentrates on descendants of Richard Gurney, who settled at
Weymouth MA before 1656.)

Revised and expanded edition by Jean Gurney Riglar, Honolulu Hawaii 1994

(If anyone would like to buy this book, it is still available. Please contact
me for her contact information. She's a great lady!)


Early record concerning the first gurney immigrant to America are exceedingly
obscure and offer conflicting information. Sheer lack of records and the
presence of two John Gurneys add to the confusion in determining our
immigrant ancestor.

John Gurney, then apprentice of John Newgate, was from Bury St. Edmunds, co.
Suffolk England. In 1636 he was brought before the Constable of the Court of
Charlestown MA because he had "Gotten away his indentures and was ordered to
serve till he were 24 years of age, viz. for 3 years, from the 29th of Sept.
next". Thus he would have been born about 29 Sep 1615 and highly unlikely to
be the father of Richard Gurney (the one born about 1630 who we have been

Of the other John Gurney, who by his disposition was aged 50 yrs. in 1653
there is no postivie proof that he was the father of Richard, yet his
presence in Weymouth and Braintree MA and his more likely his age (born 1603)
indicate the probability that he was the immigrant ancestor. A record of his
arrival in America has not been found.

yadda yadda yadda

The thorough search of likely English records, including church records,
reveals many named JOhn Gurney. However, there is no evidence, not even a
clue which would tie those records in England to our John or Richard Gurney
in America... no wills, emigration records, no passenger lists, nothing. Many
attempts have been made by both family genealogists and professional
genealogists to uncover the records and determine the immigrant ancestor but
to no avail.

We know that there has been NO proven connection made between any of the
English Gurneys mentioned in the "The Record of the House of Gournay," by
Daniel Gurney Esq., 1858, to any Gurney in America. The 4 volumes and 1
supplement have been declared a hoax and do present a glorious Gurney
History, a profusion of coats of arms, and impressive, but unproven lineages.
Of "The Gurneys of Earlham" by Augusts JC Hare, 1895, our family was
extablished in America long before those mentioned in the 2 volumes arrived
from England... and the Earlham Gurneys returned to England.

There is more to the book, I chose to only include a few paragraphs.

There is even a short history of Richard Gurney, mostly documenting what
proven information there is on his family---and a tiny snippet into the
family of his wife. (Of which I know very little.)

As a general rule to follow, do not read older family history books. (Older
meaning anything published before the 1950's or 1960's---) Many family
histories, especially of New England families, have never proven the
information within its pages.

Many old time genealogists wanted to prove their lineage to 1) Royalty 2)
Famous People (Presidents and such) and 3) Mayflower families. Why? Because
those things brought about prestige. Having an honorable family name and
heritage meant a lot to people, even if the information was forged, fibbed or
shoddily researched.

I use old family histories as GUIDES, never as definite proof. If the book is
well-researched, if everything matches what I have, or matches what I prove
later after research, then I trust the data.

As a whole, non-New England family histories can be more reliable. AS A
WHOLE. Not definite saying that genealogy book of your Czech ancestors is
correct. As a whole, New England genealogies tend to have the most chaotic
research done as thousands of researchers have done the family tree and come
up with different conclusions.

Now, perhaps the Gurney family does descend from the Gournay family-- Perhaps
it is a French surname that the New England Gurney's descend from.

The family name appears in other countries, sometimes as misspellings of
other surnames.

One other thing to remember is that just because a family has the same
surname it does not mean they connect. My last name is Marchant. It is an
unusual surname. Americans pronounce it different than the English, who
pronounce it different than the French. It is a French surname, heavily
documented and relatively popular in the country. However, my name goes back
into the 1600's in England. No signs of it reaching France any time soon.
Some people have linked my line to France, with little or no proof. The
surname also appears in, I believe, Lichtenstein under a similar spelling.

Marchant is a common surname in certain areas of France, and means a
'vendor'. (Kind of like a Merchant, which is commonly considered the English
origin of the surname.)

Hope this information helps. I don't mean to sound critical of anyone's
research methods. If you feel your information on the Gurney line is
accurate, be my guest to consider it as such. For me, I follow what I have
found to be true, which follows the Jean Rigler book.

I'm getting off of my soap box now. I hope I have not offended anyone. If you
think I'm full of bologne when it comes to my research, so be it. I just
wanted to show my side of the situation.

5th great grandson of a Gurney

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