John Henry Gurney

John Henry Gurney

John Henry Gurney (July 4, 1819 - April 20, 1890) was an English banker and amateur ornithologist.

Gurney was the only son of Joseph John Gurney of Earlham Hall, Norfolk. At the age of ten he was sent to a private tutor at Leytonstone near the Epping Forest, where he met Henry Doubleday, and commenced his first natural history collection. From there he moved to the Friends' School at Tottenham, and whilst there met William Yarrell. At the age of seventeen he joined the family's banking business in Norwich.

Gurney published a number of articles in "The Zoologist" on the birds of Norfolk. He also commenced a collection of bird of prey. In 1864 he published Part I. of his "Descriptive Catalogue" of this collection, and in 1872 he edited "The Birds of Damara Land" from the notes of his friend Charles John Andersson.

Between 1875 and 1882 he produced a series of notes in "The Ibis" on the first volume of the "Catalogue of Birds in the British Museum", and in 1884 brought out a "List of Diurnal Birds of Prey, with References and Annotations".

For the last twenty years of his life he resided at the family's home at Northrepps, near Cromer.

His son, John Henry Gurney Jr., was also an ornithologist, and his great great grandson, Henry Richard Gurney of Heggatt Hall has continued the family tradition.

The southern African race of the Black-necked Grebe, "Podiceps nigricollis gurneyi", was named by South African zoologist and author Austin Roberts in 1919 in honour of the father and son.

His daughter Agatha Gurney (1881-1937) married Sir Edward Ruggles-Brise, 1st Baronet.


*Mullens and Swann - "A Bibliography of British Ornithology" (1917)

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