Her mother, Catherine, was part of the Barclay banking family (the Gurney and Barclay banks merged in 1896 to form Barclays Bank) who were also Quakers. However, her family had no fortune, so the marriage was opposed for some time. John and Catherine were a very handsome couple and their looks were passed down to most of their eleven children. Catherine had a rule of life which was, “First, to promote my duty to my Maker; secondly, my duty to my husband and children, relations, servants and poor neighbours.” She was not a strong Quaker, but she loved the Lord. She wrote of her daughter Betsy, “But my dove-like Betsy scarcely ever offends, and is, in every sense of the word, truly engaging.
In 1786 the family rented Earlham Hall (now part of the University of East Anglia), a beautiful property just outside Norwich, from the Bacon family, remaining there for five generations. Earlham Hall was built in 1580 and extensively renovated in 1682 and 1761.
Catherine enjoyed society, and as a liberal Quaker she was not averse to dancing, drawing and music. She was also not averse to mixing with Unitarians and Roman Catholics. She taught her children from the New Testament, but she allowed them to find their own Christian path. She encouraged them to pray, but advised them never to attempt to pray unless they felt they could give their undivided mind to Him; they should be able to raise to Him their undivided heart and soul in loving adoration.
The house was continually teaming with relatives. The Gurneys had large families and many lived near to Earlham Hall. However, the happiness of the household was shaken by the death of Catherine in 1792, 15 months after the youngest child was born. Betsy was only 12 years old. Betsy’s oldest sister, Catherine became mother to her ten siblings at 16 years old.
As you enter the Burial Ground you walk down the right-hand side to the south-east corner. Here you will find Catherine's grave and Betsy's father, brother and sisters. She came here many times on the death of her relatives.