This surname of GANTT is a local name from the town of GHENT in Flanders, from which many wool-workers and other skilled craftsman, migrated to England in the early Middle Ages. The surname is found most often in West Yorkshire, around Leeds. The Flemish placename is first recorded in Latin documents in the form GANDI and GANDAVUM. The name was also used as an occupational name for a maker and seller of gloves. The name has many variant spellings which include GAUNT, GANT, GAUNTER, Van GHENT, GENT, GENDT, GAND, DEGANT and GANTOIS, to name but a few. John of Gaunt (1340-99) Duke of Lancaster was the English Prince, fourth son of Edward III. He was born in Ghent. In 1359 he married his cousin, Blanche of Lancaster and was created duke in 1362. She died in 1369, and in 1372 he married Constance, daughter of Pedro the Cruel of Castile, and assumed the title of King of Castile. Before his father's death John became the most influential personage in the realm, and was thought to be aiming at the crown. He opposed the clergy and protected Wycliffe the English religious reformer. In 1396, on his second wife's death, he married his mistress Catherine Swynford, by whom he had three sons, and from the eldest descended Henry VIII. Most of the European surnames were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe. Other records of the name mention Richard le Gaunt who was recorded in 1219, and Maurice le Gant appears in 1225. Henry de Gaunt of the County of Somerset in 1273. Willelmus Gaunte of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379.
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