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Saturday, 23 January 2010


In 1848, year of pan-European revolution in whose turbulent events many of my ancestors were caught up and even played a part, the focus of Gurney attention was much closer to home. 1848 was the year of the “Six Babies”, the birth of six of my great great aunts and uncles.
William Brodie Gurney (1777-1855)
genial grandfather
Brodie Gurney was blessed with, if I've got this right, 62 grandchildren. Like many Victorian patriarchs, Brodie Gurney had produced a large family. From the middle of the nineteenth century, infant mortality figures began to fall, and birth rates also came down as parents benefitted from the greater survival rate. But three of Gurney’s first four children succumbed to measles epidemics between 1810 and 1812. It’s no wonder that he and poor Ann, Mrs Gurney, kept churning them out.
Of his eight surviving children, two were getting married in 1848, so could not properly be expected to be delivering grandchildren just yet. The other six however were doing all that was expected of them.
So for the record, here are those “Six Babies” stats in full:
Catherine “Katie” Gurney, 6th of 7 children of Brodie’s eldest son Joseph (3rd of 4 with his second wife Harriet Tritton). So far I’ve traced her to Harrogate in 1901, where she was the unmarried Honorary Secretary of the Northern Police Orphanage; ten years earlier she had held the same post at the Christian Police Association in London. I think she died at Steyning in Sussex in 1930.
Arthur Frederick Gurney, 4th of 8 children born to next in line Thomas Gurney (the last with his first wife Margaret Hanson). Arthur trained as a barrister but entered the church and was minister of Bournemouth Baptist Church in 1881; but by 1891 he was merely the manager of a Mission Hall in Ramsey. I think he died at Tendring in Essex in 1925.
Florence Emma Jameson, 9th of 13 children from Brodie’s eldest surviving daughter Mary Ann and her husband William Kingsbury Jameson. Florence never married, and died just short of her 94th birthday in 1942.
Frank Salter, 6th of 7 children of Emma Gurney and her husband the Rev William Augustus Salter. Frank was a gifted engineer – see my earlier blog about him – who died young in 1888.
Herbert Smith, 4th of 7 children for John James Smith and his wife Caroline Gurney. Herbert doesn’t seem to have made good headway in life; 1n 1891 he was a clerk for a timber merchant, and ten years later, still unmarried, he was living in lodgings and working as a shoemaker.
Amelia “Millie” Gurney Angus, 3rd of 10 children born to Amelia Gurney and her husband the Rev Joseph Angus. Joseph was a leading churchman of his day, and his wife Amelia served as foreign secretary of the Baptist Zenana Mission from 1869 to 1893. On her death, Millie and her sister Edith filled the office as joint secretaries. Millie died unmarried at the grand age of 97, in 1945 in Hammersmith.
Henry Gurney and his second wife Phoebe Whitchurch, getting married. Henry had 7 children altogether.
Maria Gurney and her first husband the Rev Henry Grey, getting married. Maria had 3 children in total.

More on the Year of Six Babies next week!


  1. I would love to know the distribution of the 62 grandchildren! How many for each of his children?

  2. 7, 8, 13, 7, 7, 10, 7, 3 (tut! Maria not pulling her weight there, Mary Ann the baker's dozen champ)!


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