This unusual surname has three possible origin, the first being a locational name from the town of Thent in Flanders, from which many wool workers and other skilled craftsmen migrated to England in the early Middle Ages. The first recorded spelling as below refers to a man from (de) Ghent. The second source is from the Middle English word "gaunt" or "gant", meaning slim or slender, and sometimes "lassard-looking", in the sense of thin or wasted. The third possible source is from the Old French "gant", glove, and forms a metonymic occupational name for a maker and seller of gloves. Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. An interesting namebearer, recorded in the "Dictionary of National Biography", was Maurice de Gaunt (1184 - 1230), Baron of Leeds; he joined insurgent barons in 1216, and paid "Scutage" for lands in eight counties in 1223. A Coat of Arms was granted to a family of the name who resided at Highfield and Leek in Staffordshire who were descended from John Gaunt, Esq., of Rowley, Stafford, a descendant of the ancient Earls of Lincoln. This depicts a barry of six gold and blue and a red bend. Elizabeth Gaunt (died 1685), was the last woman executed for a political offence; she was burnt at Tyburn for treason in Sheltering Monmouth adherents. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert de Gant which was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book, during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1086. 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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