The name of GURLEY was originally taken to Scotland by settlers from England. The earliest name on record in Scotland appears to be an Ingelramus de Gourlay, who held land in Clydesdale and Lothian in 1174. His son, Hugh de Gurley, possessed lands in Fife and Lothian, and in 1180, witnessed a charter of the Church of Arbroath. Payment of a debt of sheep was made to Hugh of Gurlay in 1328. Henry Gourlaw in 1380 granted to his son John the lands of Reuelwood in the parish of Cavers which lands remained in his family until sold by them after the Reformation. John Gourlaw was a monk in Arbroath in 1392, and John Gourlaw was a king's officer in 1529. Robert Gourlay was a distinguished merchant and citizen of Edinburgh in the latter half of the sixteenth century, and Thomas Gurlay was an attorney at Perth in 1546. Alba, the country which became Scotland, was once shared by four races; the Picts who controlled most of the land north of the Central Belt; the Britons, who had their capital at Dumbarton and held sway over the south west, including modern Cumbria; the Angles, who were Germanic in origin and annexed much of the Eastern Borders in the seventh century, and the Scots. The latter came to Alba from the north of Ireland late in the 5th century to establish a colony in present day Argyll, which they named Dalriada, after their homeland. The Latin name SCOTTI simply means a Gaelic speaker. The Gourlays of Kincraig, Fife, held those lands for over six hundred years.
The earliest hereditary surnames in England are found shortly after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and are of Norman French origin rather than native English. On the arrival of the Normans they identified themselves by references to the estates from which they came in northern France. These names moved rapidly on with their bearers into Scotland and Ireland. Others of the Norman Invaders took names from the estates in England which they had newly acquired.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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