Guild of One-Name Studies
One-name studies, Genealogy
There are many sources that name John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster (1340 - 1399) as one of the original recorded instances of the surname, and that it is just a variation of GAUNT. My own personal theory is that it is a surname in its own right, which on many occasions has been written down as GAUNT or GRANT.
Adalbert de GAND (1004 -1032), was the son of Arnulf of GAND, Count of Holland, and ancestor of Gilbert de Gant, Earl of Lincoln (c. 1126 - 1156), and an ancient lord of Hunmanby in Yorkshire. As the surname is so prevalent in the eastern counties of England, I think it's much more likely that it originated in the west of mainland Europe, before spreading through the eastern counties of England via Gilbert de Gant.
The most illustrious Gants I have found so far include:
In 1851, approximately 0.0039% of the population of the United Kingdom used the surname. This reached a peak of 0.0045% in 1891, though the figures have been falling steadily since then.
There were approximately 1,092 instances of the surname on the 1881 census. According to the Office of National Statistics, there were 1,962 people with the surname GANT in England, Wales and the Isle of Man in 2002, and the name was ranked at number 3769.
In 1851, and before the mass migration to the bigger towns and cities, census statistics show that the vast majority of the Gant families in England and Wales were centred around the eastern English counties of Suffolk, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Essex. Even now, there are still large concentrations in these areas (Source: United Kingdom Electoral Register 2000).
Gants have been found all over the world, with a large number in Australia. The greatest concentration of the name by far is in the United States of America, where the 1880 census recorded a total of nearly 4,000 Gants. Gant immigration to the US was surprisingly low, as I have found no more than a hundred or so Gant immigrants from the United Kingdom and Europe, so I have yet to discover exactly how the name became so prevalent in the US.
I hold a large amount of worldwide data, and I'm also working to add Gant people to family trees, along with any photographs and interesting facts about their lives. The ultimate aim of course is to add ALL of them, but that could take quite some time!
Gant BMD registrations from 1837 - 1960 are available to search on The Guild website
You may find our other Guild websites of interest: