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The Gourlay Family
Written and Researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.

The Name Gourlay:

The earliest record of the name is as "Gournay" in Belgic Gaul in the 4th - 1st century. The is a Gournay Island. Gournay-sur-Aronde (Oise) and Vendeuil are only 30 kolometers apart. This could possibly be the origination of the name?

Gourlay/MacGourlay is an Irish surname meaning the "son of Toirdeabhach" (shaped like a god) (Smith).

In The Book of Irish Families Great and Small it lists the original spelling as Mac Gourley. Gourley/Mac Gourley is tradtionally associated with the county Antrim in the north of Ireland. The name O'Gorley is also found in Ireland.


In The Origins of Some Anglo-Norman Families by Lewis C. Loyd, originally published in Leeds, England, in 1951, it states:

"Gournay-en-Bray: Seine-Inf. arr. Neufchatel, is a fortified town. The family is so well known that it is sufficient to refer to the documents in Daniel Gurnay's Record of the House of Gournai".

Hugh de Gourney, Sr. of Gourney-en-Brie, Normany, Domeday tenant of Liston, Ardley, and Fordham, Essex, County England. He married Basile Flaitel, the widow of Rauol of Gace, Constable of Normandy. Basile's father was Gerard Flaitel. Her home was the castle of Eccouche, near Falaise, Normandy. They had two sons: Gerard and Hugh. Hugh de Gourney witnessed the charter of the monastery of St. Stephen, Caen. This was provided for by King William the Conqueror. William and his wife Maude also chartered Holy Trinty in Caen, Normandy. Hugh and his wife Basile were buried at the Abbey de Bec.

The Gourlay Arms:

- Gourlay - Eng., a boar's head, erased, ppr.

- Gourlay - Scot. a mullet of sis points, or.

- Gourlay - Scot., an eagle, issuing. Motto: profundia cernit or "he pentrates deep things"(Fairbairn).


John Lawson was christened May 29, 1768 Ceres, Kettle Parish, Fifeshire, Scotland. He married on June 19, 1784 to Elspeth Lawson, daughter of William Lawson and Isabel Gourlay. This is yet to be proven by anything but the parish records.

Children of John and Elspeth Lawson were:

Elspeth Lawson christened September 29, 1784 in Kettle Parish, Ceres, Fifeshire, Scotland.
Margaret Lawson christened July 17, 1785 in Kettle Parish, Ceres, Fifeshire, Scotland.
James Lawson christened March 18, 1787 in Kettle Parish, Ceres, Fifeshire, Scotland. Henry Lawson


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