CFHS code : AL38

Parish : St Andrew the Less

Inscription : In Loving Memory of ANNIE NORAH GURNER d Dec 27th 1888 aged 45 also MARY GURNER d Jan 26th 1880 aged 81 also SARAH ALICE the beloved wife of HENRY GURNER d March 6th 1925 aged 70 also HENRY JOSEPH GURNER d June 4th 1926 aged 81

Monument : Headstone

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Lat Lon : 52.20414393, 0.13807104 – click here for location

Gurner headstone January 2018


This headstone, in the parish area of St Andrew the Less, is located in the north east corner of the cemetery.


In Loving Memory of ANNIE NORAH GURNER who died Dec 27th 1888 aged 45 years.

Also MARY GURNER who died Jan 26th 1880 aged 81 years.

Also SARAH ALICE the beloved wife of HENRY GURNER who died March 6th 1925 aged 70 years.

Also HENRY JOSEPH GURNER who died June 4th 1926 aged 81 years

Relationships:  Mary was the mother of Henry.  Annie was Henry’s first wife and Sarah was his second wife.

Mary Gurner (née Worling or Worlen) (c 1799 – 1880)

Mary was born in Haslingfield, the daughter of Sarah and John, who was a shoemaker. On 24th December 1821 she married William Gurner in Hauxton.  Three years later, at the same parish church, there is a marriage between an Ann Worlen and a John Gurner, almost certainly the very same two families involved, brother-in-law marrying sister-in-law.

William Gurner’s Story

William’s brother John appears later in our story but then, in July 1825, William Gurner, along with two other men, was convicted and sentenced to hang in Cambridge for stealing a lamb.  This sentence must have been respited to imprisonment, for William served only 13 months inside before being released; but not long afterwards he had reoffended, committing larceny this time.  Thus he was sentenced on 28th July 1829 at Cambridge Summer Quarter Sessions to seven years transportation, and was sent to Van Diemen’s Land aboard the ship The Royal George on 12th June 1830; so he must have spent quite some time pondering the fate of his young family while waiting for his ship to sail; it arrived in Tasmania on 18th October, after a sea voyage of 4 months. There is a description of the convicted man which states that he had been a ploughman from Shelford; that he was 5 feet 4 and a quarter inches tall, was aged 29, had a dark complexion, round head with oval visage, dark brown hair and whiskers, eyebrows overhanging, dark hazel eyes, a dimple in the centre of his chin, a large scar on the corner of his right eye, a long nose, and wide, thick lips.
When he reached Tasmania he was assigned to Edward Archer Esquire.  The Archer family owned Woolmers Estate, a large farming complex built by convict labour between 1819 and 1821.  No expense was spared in the materials and design.  The National Rose Collection is held there today. William Gurner was granted a certificate of freedom on 14th July 1836, according to the Hobart Town Crier.  William was very fortunate to have been assigned to Edward Archer, who was regarded as being much too kind to the convicts in his charge.  They were given beer every day, for example.
Woolmers is still a beautiful example of any early colonial convict-built architecture and is listed as a World Heritage site.
Although there are several references to a William Gurner thereafter in ships’ passenger lists, connected with several reported crimes, and also death or burial entries, one cannot be absolutely sure if this is the same individual.  It is almost certain, though, that the William Gurner who boarded the Yarra Yarra which departed Launceston, Tasmania bound for Melbourne on 20th May 1853 was indeed him, as he is described as “free by servitude”, and The Royal George is mentioned alongside his name.  But it does not appear as though he ever returned to his homeland.

Mary Gurner’s Story

But what of his wife Mary and four young children, meanwhile?  There is a multiple baptism for these children, Mary Ann, William, Kitty (Catherine), and Thomas on 26th May 1833 at Hauxton Parish Church.
The next time we find the family, in the 1841 Census, they are still living in Hauxton, but by 1851 they are in Cambridge in Cambridge Place.  Her son William has died at the age of 22 in 1847, and there is another child in the family, Henry, born in 1844.  Family rumour has it that the father of Henry may have been William’s brother John, who was twice in trouble with the authorities for abandoning his own family and leaving them to be looked after by the parish; on both occasions he got 3 months hard labour at the local house of correction.  Mary Gurner’s occupation here is given as”nurse”, and she also seems to have care of two very young grandchildren in William aged 2 and Mary Ann, 9 months; whether these belong to any of her children is not clear. By 1861 the family has moved to Newmarket Road, where she is living next door to her son Thomas and his young family, and by 1871 she is living at the back of New Street, with no less than three grandchildren with her there on the night of the Census.

Mary Gurner’s family still live in Cambridge today, her youngest descendant being her 4-times-great-granddaughter Teresa Gurner

Researched and written by Keith Sherwood

Henry Joseph Gurner (1844 – 1926)  

Henry was born in 1844 in Hauxton Cambridge.  The youngest child of Mary Gurner and John Gurner- see above. He married Anne McGrath on June 24th 1863 at the church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs. (The Catholic Church on Hills Road). Henry and Ann had at least two children Mary (b 1864) and John (b 1866). In 1871 they were living in East Road and Henry was working as a gravel digger. By 1881 the family were living in the parish of Holy Trinity. Henry and his son John were unemployed but daughter Mary was working as a domestic servant.
After Ann’s death Henry married the widow Sarah Alice Bennett. The wedding took place at the church of St Andrew the Less on August 14th 1890. Henry was now living on Newmarket Road and working for the corporation.

Annie Norah Gurner, (née McGrath) (c 1843 – 1888)

Ann was from Limerick in Ireland.

Sarah Alice Gurner (née Bruce) (c 1854 – 1925) 

Sarah was the daughter of Charles and Elisabeth Bruce of Coronation Street. She was baptised at St Paul’s church, Hills Road, on January 7th 1855. She married Esau Bennett in 1874 and the couple lived in Gas Lane, Cambridge until Esau died in 1883 at the age of 28.

[If you have any information about this family, please contact us at]


CFHS census and parish record transcripts

Edited by Mary Naylor

Annie Norah Gurner; Henry Joseph Gurner; Mary Gurner; Sarah Alice Gurner