Saturday, 22 January 2011

Burke’s Family Records

Do you have British nobility in your family tree?  The new offering on of Burke's Family Records with information on the junior houses of British nobility, seemed likely to have content on my illustrious ancestors at around page 1500 of this 655 page volume.

So to test it I looked for another family I've been researching.

According to the Ancestry description "Burke’s Family Records has information on "the “cadets” or younger sons of a noble family (who) did not usually receive inherited lands or titles and their descendents were often overlooked by lineage records of the peerage (titled British nobles). Details of family origins, surnames, events, and locations are recorded for about 300 British cadet lines; some are accompanied by coats of arms. At the beginning of the work is an index of pedigrees and alliances."

I tried this indexed database by searching for the name Gurney. It's one that occurs in documents some BIFHSGO  colleagues and I have been investigating. The search turned up the name William Brodie Gurney Littlewood which attracted my attention as Littlewood is another name that occurs in those documents. He married a woman whose noble ancestry is documented in Burke's Family Records.

It turned out he was born in the Bahamas around 1855, married twice in England, and was a solicitor with death registered in Bournemouth in 1929.

Out of interest I googled the name and found there was a person William Brodie Gurney (1777–1855), a famed English shorthand writer and philanthropist of the 19th century according to Wikipedia. Is this a case of the Bahamian Littlewood family paying tribute to Gurney because they admired his philanthropy, shorthand, or perhaps there was a family connection?

In any event, there is no seeming connection to Canada, which is where the documents being investigated were found, so it looks like yet another blind alley.

Another digitization of  Burke's Family Records, by the Allen County Public Libraryis available without the cost of an Ancestry subscription, from the Internet Archive.

1 comment:

Caroline Gurney said...

For Gurney research I recommend Daniel Gurney's "The record of the house of Gournay". You can find all three volumes in the Internet Archive: The Dictionary of National Biography entries for William Brodie Gurney and his grandfather, Thomas, are online at: and They are descended from the Norfolk Gurneys, whose lineage goes all the way back to Normandy before the Conquest. How I wish I could tie my husband's Gurney tree in with them. As I said in "10 things my ancestors did to annoy me":, my family are always just off the page of any printed pedigree.