This interesting surname, with variant spellings Jent and Ghent, is of early medieval French origin, and is from a nickname for one who was "well born, courteous and noble in conduct". It derives from the Middle English "gente", a development of the Old French "gent" meaning "well born" or "noble". The surname was first recorded in the late 12th Century (see below). One John Gent is recorded in the Pipe Rolls for Worcestershire, 1200. On October 1st 1555, Edward Gent was christened in St. Peter's, Westcheap, London, and Dorothy Gent married John Jones on April 22nd 1577, in St.Dunstan's, Stepney, London. An interesting namebearer was Thomas Gent (1693 - 1778), a printer and topographer; he was a member of the Stationers' Company, and was admitted to the Freedom of the City of London in 1717. He settled in York in 1724, being the sole printer in the city and county. He printed his own histories of York (1730) and Ripon (1734).In the 15th century a distinguished Coat of Arms was granted to William Gent, living in 1468 and his grandson became Baron Gent of the Court of Exchequer, and is described "as a very considerable person in his time", the blazon is an ermine shield, a chief indented sable thereon a label of three points gules, on each three bezants (gold coins) the crest being an eagle displayed. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Gent, which was dated 1195, in the "Pipe Rolls of Hampshire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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