Gurney, Richard (DNB00)

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GURNEY, Sir RICHARD (1577–1647), lord mayor of London and royalist, son of Bryan Gurney or Gournard, by Magdalen Hewitt, was born at Croydon on 17 April 1577, and baptised there 8 March 1578 (Collect. Top. et Gen. iv. 91). He was apprenticed to a Mr. Coleby, silkman, of Cheapside, who on his death left him his shop, worth 6,000l. Gurney afterwards travelled in France and Italy, where he ‘laid the foundations for his future traffick.’ His first marriage was an advantageous one, and owing to his wealth and high reputation he was frequently chosen to act as a trustee for charities. He was himself a liberal man, and a benefactor of the Clothworkers' Company and of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, of both of which corporations he was warden. He became an alderman of the city of London, and was sheriff in 1633, when he received a grant of arms, which figure in the cornice round the great hall of Christ's Hospital. He was chosen lord mayor in 1641; the election was made a matter of fierce contest, ‘each party put themselves in battle array, and the puritans were overcome with hisses’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1641–3, p. 132). During his year of office Gurney showed himself a zealous royalist. On Charles's return from Scotland Gurney met him at Kingsland on 25 Nov., and was knighted. On the same day he entertained the king and court at the Guildhall (Nalson, Collection, iii. 675–681). Two days later Charles received a deputation from the London aldermen, and promised to confer a baronetcy on Gurney, and the patent was accordingly issued on 14 Dec. following. On 11 Dec. the city petitioned the commons in support of Pym's policy. Gurney had used all his influence to oppose the petition, so much so that ‘he grew to be reckoned in the first form of malignants, and his house was no less threatened than the House of Lords’ (Clarendon, iv. 120). On 19 Dec. Prophet Hunt, a puritan fanatic, was brought before Gurney and committed to prison. As the riots continued Gurney arrested some of the most notorious offenders, who were rescued by their companions (see Clarendon State Papers, i. 222). During the excitement roused by the appointment of Lunsford to be lieutenant of the Tower, Gurney informed Charles that he could not be answerable for the peace of the city. This led at once to Lunsford's dismissal on 26 Dec. When the arrest of the five members was contemplated, the king wrote to Gurney, on 4 Jan. 1642, bidding him to refuse obedience to orders from the commons, and to raise the trained bands to keep the peace in the city. Next day the king came to the city in his search for the members. During the alarm of the following night Gurney was asked to call out the trained bands, who, on his refusal, assembled of themselves, and were with difficulty induced to disperse. On the 7th Charles ordered the five members to be proclaimed as traitors in the city, and Gurney had to reply that it was against law. His efforts, at the same time, to prevent the presentation of a petition from the city to the king proved ineffectual. He was, however, firmly loyal, and this led to his omission by the parliament from the list of persons recommended to be entrusted with the militia. Charles, in his reply to the commons, said that the lord mayor's ‘demeanour had been such that the city and the whole kingdom was beholding to him for his example’ (Clarendon, v. 85). When the king in June issued his proclamation prohibiting the execution of the parliament's militia ordinance, Gurney had it publicly read in the city. For this his impeachment was moved by the commons, and he was committed to the Tower on 11 July. On 11 Aug. he was put out of his office, declared incapable of all honour or dignity, and ordered to be imprisoned during the pleasure of the two houses (ib. v. 425; Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. pp. 35–8. The articles of impeachment are given by Rushworth, i. pt. iii. 779–80). Gurney remained in the Tower ‘almost till his death,’ which took place on 6 Oct. 1647; he was buried at St. Olave's Jewry, ‘with the Lyturgy in the very reign of the Directory’ (Lloyd). After his death the committee for advance of money found that there was not sufficient proof of his delinquency, and ordered that his executors should be permitted to enjoy his estate (Cal. of State Papers, ‘Advance of Money,’ 1642–56, pp. 158–61, where details as to his assessment and property are given). According to Lloyd, Gurney's losses through his loyalty amounted to 40,000l.; and the same authority states he refused to pay a sum of 5,000l., which was fixed as the price of his release from the Tower.

Gurney is always spoken of in high terms by Clarendon, as ‘a man of wisdom and courage, who cannot be too often or too honourably mentioned’ (Hist. Rebell. iv. 78, 157, 183). He married, first, Ebigail, daughter of Henry Sandford of Birchington, Kent. By her he had a son, Richard, who predeceased him, and two daughters, Elizabeth, who married Sir John Pettus, whom the king knighted on 25 Nov. 1641 as a mark of favour to Gurney (Nalson, Collection, ii. 680), and Anne, married to Thomas Richardson of Hevingham, Norfolk, who was afterwards Lord Cramond in the peerage of Scotland (Chester, London Marriage Licences, p. 1132). His second wife was Eliza, widow of Robert South, and daughter of Richard Gosson of London. By her he had no children. She survived him, and in 1652 was living at Pointer's Grove, Totteridge, Hertfordshire (Cussans, Hertfordshire, ii. 297). At one time he spelt his name Gurnard, and it is so given in a deed dated 1631, when he purchased the manor of Pallingswyck for 2,600l. In the patent of his baronetcy he is called ‘Gurnard alias Gurney’ (Lysons, London, ii. 357).

[Clarendon's Hist. Rebell. iv. 78, 120, 156, 157, 183, v. 85, 125, 394, 401, 425; Rushworth's Collections, i. pt. iii. 686, 779–80, 782; Nalson's Collection, ii. 675–81, 733, 773, 841; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1639–43; D. Gurney's Record of the House of Gournay, pp. 553–5; Steinman's Hist. of Croydon, pp. 25–6; Lloyd's Memoirs of Excellent Personages, pp. 625–7, 1668 (his informant was Sir John Pettus); Gardiner's Hist. of England, vol. x.]

C. L. K.