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Gurney Family of Brockton, MA

LYSANDER FRANKLIN GURNEY, late of Brockton, Plymouth Co., Mass., was a descendant of some of the earliest settlers of this section. Going back to the mother country, we find the following general information in “The Gurneys of Earlham” (two volumes, Hart, Mich., March 16, 1906).

The Norfolk Gurneys claim descent from the ancient Barons of Gournay in Normandy, where the curious Ports Ibert with many old towers of the walls and the twelfth century church of Saint Hildevert attest the wealth and power of its ancient lords. Several members of the ‘House accompanied William the Conqueror to England, and fought at the battle of Hastings, after which the valor of the aged Hugh de Gurney III was rewarded by the establishment of the English Barony of Gourney, held by tenure of military service and by large grants of land, so that he has left his name of Baron Gourney in Somerset and several other places in England. The story of the “House of Gourney” is told in a magnificent history by Daniel Gurney of Runcton Hall, near Norwich, County of Norfolk, England, which possesses historic interest and shows much antiquarian research.

The Gurney arms cherished by the American branch show this connection with the English Gurneys.

According to manuscript in the possession of the late Lysander F. Gurney’s family, there were two emigrants of the name to these shores in the early days, Edward Gurney coming to Cambridge in 1636, and John Gurney coming to Braintree. The latter was an apprentice to John Newgate. He was born Sept. 29, 1615, and died in 1663. His wife died in 1664. According to the direct line given in the family records Richard Gurney, of Weymouth, of whom we have definite knowledge, appears to have been his son.

One John Gurney, of Weymouth, son of Richard, was a soldier in Johnson’s company in 1675.

Taking up the direct ancestry of the late Lysander Franklin Gurney,

  1. Richard Gurney, an inhabitant of Weymouth, and a freeman of 1681, had there by his wife Rebecca (probably a daughter of John Taylor):
    1. Joseph, born Feb. 23, 1664-65
    2. Mary, born Sept. 9, 1667
  2. Joseph Gurney, son of Richard and Rebecca, born Feb. 23, 1664-65, married Mary Perkins. He settled in Abington, Mass., about the close of the seventeenth century. Their children were:
    1. Perkins
    2. Benoni
    3. Joseph, if no more. Of these Perkins, born in 1723, married, the Christian name of his wife being Jane, settled in East Bridgewater, and left descendants. Benoni also married and left descendants.
  3. Joseph Gurney (2), son of Joseph and Mary, born Feb. 4, 1735, married Sarah Shaw and their children were:
    1. Joseph, born March 28, 1759
    2. Gideon
    3. Daniel
    4. Zachariah
    5. Sarah
    6. Deborah
  4. Joseph Gurney (3), son of Joseph (2) and his wife Sarah (Shaw), born March 28, 1759, married Mary Smith. She died before his removal, about 1783, to Ashfield, Mass., and their son Melvin, then an infant, was left with his aunt, Jane Smith, who married Thomas Whiting, of East Abington. Joseph Gurney (3) married a second time, and had a son Joseph.
  5. Melvin Gurney, grandfather of Lysander F., was born April 22, 1782, and died April 15, 1854, aged seventy-two years. He married Jan. 30, 1807, Olive Holbrook. Their children were:
    1. Thomas W., born Jan. 30, 1809, married Nov. 13, 1836, Mary C. Stoddard
    2. Melvin, Jr., born Sept. 27, 1810, married June 9, 1833, Lydia Burrell
    3. William H., born July 3, 1812, married Nov. 30, 1837, Eveline L. Briggs
    4. Joseph W. is mentioned below
    5. Olive B., born March 12, 1817, died March 28, 1851, in her thirty-fifth year
    6. James S., born May 17, 1819, married Nov. 30, 1843, Elizabeth W. Loud
  6. Joseph Warren Gurney, father of Lysander F. Gurney, was born Sept. 3, 1814, in East Abington, Mass., and died there Aug. 28, 1869, aged nearly fifty-five years. He was a shoemaker by trade, while clockmaking was his avocation. He married May 25, 1837, Iantha E. Studley, daughter of David Studley, of Hanover, Mass. His children were:
    1. Warren Studley Gurney, born in Hanover June 5, 1839, served through the Civil war as a musician in various regiment bands, and was always known as an excellent musician. He was a first-class watchmaker and in 1870 entered the jewelry business in the firm of Gurney Brothers, in which he continued until his death, which occurred in 1896. He was twice married, his first wife being Winifred Knowles, of Provincetown, and his second Mary Sturtevant, of Brockton, who is still living in Mexico. He was the father of the following children:
      1. Fred Warren, a jeweler, who died in Brockton, unmarried
      2. Harvey Studley, a jeweler, who died in Colorado, where his wife, Eveline (Cross), is still living
      3. Melvin Knowles, a graduate of Harvard, a chemist by profession, who is residing in Mexico, unmarried.
    2. Matilda J., born March 8, 1841, now deceased, married Peter Curtis, of East Abington, and they had two children
      1. Grace
      2. Gertrude
    3. Lysander Franklin is mentioned below.
    4. Ann E., born Dec. 20, 1847, married Benjamin A. Burrell, of East Abington, a shoe manufacturer in Rockland, Mass. They have had three children
      1. Harry
      2. Florence
      3. Ralph
    5. Lilla A., born May 18, 1855, died Aug. 21, 1855.
  7. Lysander Franklin Gurney was born June 8, 1843, at the Studley homestead in Hanover, and there received his early schooling. Later he attended school at East Abington, whither the family moved when he was twelve years old, and at North Bridgewater, as Brockton was then known. He was sixteen when he came to the latter place, to learn watchmaking, and when he was twenty years old, in 1863, his uncle, David Fearing Studley, set him up in the jewelry business in North Bridgewater, in the front room of a house which Mr. Studley owned, on the north corner of Church and Main streets. He was of the third generation of clockmakers in the Gurney family, his father and grandfather having been masters of the trade. In 1870 his elder brother, Warren S. Gurney, became a partner in the business, the name changing from L. F. Gurney to Gurney Brothers, which style has ever since been retained, though the firm is now known as the Gurney Brothers Company. In 1871 several changes were made in the quarters occupied by the business, a store front being put in the building, and there it was carried on until moved to its present location in the Washburn block, No. 122 Main street, at the south corner of School street. Various changes have been made in the store since its establishment in the Washburn block, the most important extension being made in 1901, when the removal of another firm gave Gurney Brothers a long desired opportunity to enlarge and remodel their quarters. Warren S. Gurney continued in the business until his death, after which it was carried on by Lysander F. Gurney until it was established as a stock company in 1901, at which time his sons Merton S. and Sanford K. were admitted into the firm.
Lysander Franklin Gurney
Lysander Franklin Gurney

The Gurney Brothers Company have the leading establishment of the kind in Brockton, being in fact one of the largest jewelry and watchmaking concerns in New England outside of Boston. Lysander F. Gurney was an experienced tradesman himself, and appreciated the efforts of those in his employ. The Gurney Brothers always aimed to engage the most expert labor obtainable, and several of the responsible employees of the house today have been with them for twenty-five years or more and have a high reputation for reliability and skill. A number of relatives of the Gurneys have been connected with the establishment. The liberal policy and high principles observed by this house have become proverbial. No business man in Brockton held a higher place in the esteem of his associates than Lysander F. Gurney. His sincere, conscientious efforts to do the right thing under all circumstances not only made him well liked, but gained him a standing which, backed by his progressive disposition, assured the steady growth of his business. He was equally well thought of in social and church circles. A devoted member of the First Congregational Church, he served many years as treasurer of the parish, and by his conservative management of its finances made himself a very valuable factor in the material upbuilding of that church. He was chosen treasurer several years before the fire that destroyed the old Brown structure, and for years not only devoted his time and best efforts to promoting the best interests of the church but also gave generously out of his own pocket, to an extent that was probably realized by very few people. The pastor, Mr. Hudson, had come to Brockton before the church recovered from the blow of the fire, and Mr. Gurney stood by him faithfully in the uphill fight which had to be made to place the church upon the solid basis it now enjoys. For seven years before his death Mr. Gurney was one of the three trustees of the Marcus Packard fund, which increased materially under their fostering administration.

Aside from the charitable work and benevolences into which his prominent connection with his church drew him, Mr. Gurney aided many who were in need, giving liberally of his means and taking a personal interest in the beneficiaries which cheered many a heart in distress. His charities were wide, but so quietly done that none but the recipients were aware of his generosity, and it is truthfully said that all who came to him for aid were kindly met and sympathetically dealt with. The same might be said of his relations with other business men. His advice was valued, his judgment respected, and, as one of the oldest and most reliable merchants of Brockton, he was very frequently consulted on business questions, gladly giving his counsel and assistance when sought in his characteristically unostentatious way. His intelligence was looked up to by younger men especially, and his modest manner and approachable nature made him well liked by employees and employers alike. With a high conception of duty, and an earnest desire to do what was right from a Christian’s point of view, Mr. Gurney endeavored to follow the simple, honest, helpful life which he considered man’s highest aim, and how well he succeeded is best judged by the expressions of loving remembrance coming from all who had relations with him. His pastor, Mr. Hudson, spoke of him as

“one of the simplest yet most effective men of his acquaintance; always quiet, but always firm on matters touching what he conceived to be his principles; a man to be depended upon absolutely in every relation of life.”

Gurney Brothers Advertisement
An advertisement of the Gurney Brothers which appeared in the 1890 Brockton City Directory

In his political views Mr. Gurney was a stanch Republican, and he was a strong friend of the temperance cause, favoring no license in local movements. He never cared for public office and never aspired to such position. He was a member of the Commercial Club, and though a Mason, a well known member of Paul Revere Lodge, A. F. & A. M., of Brockton, was not very active in the fraternity. He made many warm friendships wherever he went, but he was a quiet, home-loving man, and it was his genial nature, not a desire for the excitement of social pleasures, that made him so popular.

No better evidence of the esteem in which Mr. Gurney was held is needed than the marks of respect which were shown at the time of his death. Though he had been in declining health for some time, and had been ill for a week or so, the end, which was caused by heart failure, came quite suddenly on the afternoon of Nov. 20, 1905, at his home in Brockton, and was a shock to the community as well as to his family. Social, church, fraternal and business friends united in sympathetic demonstrations. The funeral services, as Mr. Gurney would have wished, were conducted by his pastor and marked for their simplicity. He was laid to rest in the family lot in Union cemetery.

Mr. Gurney married, June 3, 1866, Chloe Richmond Lyon, daughter of the late Vinal and Damaris Williams (Keith) Lyon, of North Bridgewater, a record of which family appears elsewhere in these volumes. The family home was at No. 113 Green street, at the corner of Warren avenue. To Mr. and Mrs. Gurney were born three children, all sons:

  1. Frank Ellis Gurney, born July 22, 1867, was graduated from the Brockton high school in 1885, as valedictorian of his class, was fitted for and entered Amherst College, after which he took a special course of four years at the State normal school at Bridgewater. Following that he taught school at Garden City, R. I., and is now instructor of Latin, astronomy and algebra at the State normal school at Bridgewater, Mass. He married Cornelia Augusta Churchill, daughter of George Churchill, of Brockton, and they had one son, Studley Churchill Gurney, who died in infancy.
  2. Merton Studley Gurney, born April 14, 1869, was graduated from the Brockton high school, class of 1887, learned the watchmaker’s trade with his father, and is now a member of the firm of Gurney Brothers Company. He married Ella Gertrude Packard, daughter of Rodney B. Packard, of Brockton, and they have three children
    1. Dorothy
    2. Marion
    3. Fred Packard
  3. Sanford Keith Gurney, born Oct. 30, 1875, is a graduate of the Brockton high school and of Brown University, class of 1897. He is a member of the Gurney Brothers Company. He married Mabelle Florence Crocker, daughter of Bradford Crocker, of Newton, and they have two children
    1. Joseph Gale
    2. Richard Crocker

Mrs. Chloe E. (Lyon) Gurney, whose death occurred Dec. 14, 1910, was a prominent member of Deborah Sampson Chapter, D. A. E., of Brockton, being a past regent, having served two years as regent of that body. She was a descendant of sixteen of the original proprietors of Bridgewater, Mass., and of seven of the original proprietors of Taunton; of nine Revolutionary soldiers, namely:

  1. Col. Simeon Cary
  2. Benjamin Keith
  3. Josiah Perkins, Jr.
  4. Corporal Jedediah Lyon
  5. Jonas Reynolds
  6. Ensign Luke Perkins
  7. Levi Keith
  8. Josiah Perkins, Sr.
  9. Job Richmond

Of four of the “Fortune” passengers; of thirteen of the passengers of the “Ann” and “Little James”; and of sixteen of the “Mayflower” passengers, viz.:

  1. Isaac Allerton and wife Mary Norris, through their daughter Mary, who married Elder Thomas Cushman
  2. John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, through their son Joseph
  3. William Mullins and his wife Priscilla
  4. Elder William Brewster and wife
  5. Francis Cooke
  6. John Howland
  7. John Tilley and his wife Bridget and daughter Elizabeth, who married John Howland
  8. Richard Warren
  9. Thomas Rogers

Mrs. Gurney was well known in social circles and charitable work. She was always in hearty sympathy with her husband’s benevolent projects, and assisted him in such work whenever possible.

Representative Men and Old Families of Southeastern Massachusetts: containing historical sketches of prominent and representative citizens and genealogical records of many of the old families. 3 Volumes. Beers & Chicago. 1912.

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1 thought on “Gurney Family of Brockton, MA”

  1. I am a descendant of John Gurney. (Gurney is my mothers maiden name.
    ) I discovered a family Tree from John Gurney b 9/29/1615…to Julia Francis b 5/718/57. It shows her marriage to Joseph Warren Sears 3/15/1876. I would love to find more information on the Gurney line and would greatly appreciate any information or suggestions of where to look. Thank you!!

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