de Gant or de Gaunt - that is the question!

+7 votes

It has been brought to my attention that the children of Walter de Gant (aka de Gaunt) have inconsistent LNABs.  I'd like to get them all the same.  So what do you think it should be:  Gant or Gaunt?

Ancestral Roots has Walter as de Gaunt; ditto with daughter Agnes:

Other sources seem to flip flop between Gant and Gaunt.  So I'd like a consensus on what to use as the LNAB; we can use the alternate ones as OLN.  Thanks.

Darlene - Co-Leader, British Isles Royals & Aristocrats 742-1499 Project

WikiTree profile: Walter de Gant
in Genealogy Help by Darlene Athey-Hill G2G6 Pilot (438k points)
Surely this is a difference without a distinction?

Given no two people speaking the same language, then, were bound to write this name the same way (or the next time); and said people worked in at least 3 perhaps 4 or 5 different "lingua francas"... can we not accept that the primary sources are understandably "quantum" and even if the phonetic spelling or enunciation varied over time, or between scribes, it's always the same family? This is a case where the coats of arms and transfer of property etc ought to dominate over the (understandable... but modern, and dangerous) desire to standardize retroactively.

If we believe in our "Use Their Conventions Not Ours" policy rubrick, then we ought to tolerate their inconsistency and not impose a false rigor. This happens also with Vere and de Vere versus de Veer and le Veer-- and a thousand other examples (Avenal, Aubigny, Ros, Tosny, Guines, fitzWhatever, Stuart, de La Tour, Bourbon, Burgundy, Hussey, Grey, Pool, Le Strange etc..  ad infinitum) and we need to be super careful that index-standardization doesn't conflate unrelated families with merely similar names. Don't even get me started on the Irish/Cornish/Gaelic/Breton names; or how we handle basically all pre-modern Catholic FNABs, Islamic patronyms, and non Judeo-Christian LNABs from medieval era (say: Andalusia, Hungary, Kievan Rus, Vikings etc). I say this as traditionalist father of a son with a pre-Norman Irish name spelled the later English way, married to my functionalist Franco-Irish 30th & 33rd cousin... we can't even agree about This Stuff inside the family. I doubt there is a right answer for the internet.

The important thing surely is the "graph" of connected relationships. Not their spelling. Let alone the WikiTree indices.

3 Answers

+5 votes

Katherine Keats-Rohan in her Domesday People books, has this family indexed under 'de Gand' but refers to them also as 'de Gant'.

The Complete Peerage, 2nd ed., Vol. 7, refers to Gilbert, Earl of Lincoln as 'de Gant or Gaunt', but to his daughter Alice as de Gant only.

A charter issued by Alice used de Gant for herself and her father.;view=1up;seq=528 (not sure if this link will take you to the right page, but its Charter 1217, on page 492)

It would seem that at least some of the early sources are using de Gant and not 'm not sure where de Gaunt for this family comes from?  Is it used because the later John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster was born in Ghent/Gaunt?


by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (486k points)
+5 votes
Gant seems to be the most common spelling.  Perhaps because it is sort of halfway between the French spelling (Gand) and the Germanic/Dutch (Gent or Ghent).  I would certainly favor Gant (not Gaunt).
by Kenneth Kinman G2G6 Mach 6 (68.4k points)
+1 vote
Well, I see Isaac's point, in the sense that I am also very sceptical of the Wikitree obsession with name standardization. I have seen all kinds of reasons proposed such as easier searching, but none seem convincing. So I am not always "for" standardization even though I try to tow the line.

On the other hand, in a case like this it could be argued there is a well-known recognizable name, which should be kept to for practical reasons. A more clear case would be John of "Gaunt", where hardly anyone even knows what his byname refers to anymore. It would be strange to change his name spelling, although it does hide the original meaning.

In the case of the early Anglo-Flemish after 1066 there is such a tradition I think of "Gant", as mentioned by Kenneth. I think this is simply derived from old medieval spellings, used in several languages, although of course it was only one spelling of many. FWIW I think the "proper" Latin is Ganda.

In some other cases where there is no traditional English name I can also understand that some people argue for use of the modern placename, so that the placename can be recognized. In this case however, it is a place with a common English name, and the person involved was arguably most active in England, so the question (if it was considered relevant here) would arise as to whether we would use Ghent (English) or Gent (Dutch). I think this would be relevant if Walter and his family were not well-known.

However I think the convention of using the well-known name of a specific family or person, if the name is well-known, is a bit more important.
by Andrew Lancaster G2G6 Pilot (108k points)

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