Durant Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Durant Meaning
The
names Durant, Durrant and Durand are of French origin and come from the
Old
French durant, meaning
“enduring.” The words could describe
someone who is steadfast or else possibly obstinate.
Durand is more common in France and French
Quebec, Durrant in England, and Durant in America.
The
names first came to England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. They were also names of later French Huguenot
refugees.

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Durant/Durand Resources on
The
Internet

Select
Durant/Durand Ancestry

Guillaume
Durand, a 13th century liturgical writer, came from a noble family in
Languedoc. Today there are some 90,000
Durands in
France, mainly in the south of the country, and a smaller number of
3,000 Durants in
northern France and French-speaking Belgium.

Durants left Normandy for England at the time of the Norman
Conquest. More Durands departed later in the 16th century and
later, either Huguenot refugees or emigrants to French Quebec. Marie Durand
was one Huguenot left behind who suffered in the hands of the
authorities.

England. Durants are
believed to have crossed the Channel from France to England and settled
in Cornwall as early as the 11th century. Certainly the name has
been long-established there. Durants were recorded at Leigh in
the 1300’s and at Pensinams in the 1400’s.

Richard Durant who
died in 1632 was twice mayor of Bodmin and was recorded on his
tombstone at St. Petroc’s as having two wives and nineteen
children. One of his sons, John, was a Puritan preacher who was
deprived of his living after the Restoration. And many have heard
the
story of Dorothy
Durant, the ghost of Botathen
.

Among the Huguenot refugees to England were:

  • a
    Durant
    family which arrived in England from France around the year 1570 and
    settled
    in
    Maldon, Essex. Descendant George Durant
    departed for America in the 1650’s.
  • John Durant who came to North Tawton in Devon sometime in the
    early 1700’s and engaged in the wool trade. The business thrived
    until the wool trade took a downturn at the time of the Napoleonic
    wars.
  • and a Durand family which fled their home in Montpelier in 1685
    and
    initially settled in
    Holland. They later made the move to England. In 1795
    Daniel Francois
    Durand was appointed Dean of St. Peter Port in Guernsey in the Channel
    Islands.

East Anglia. Durrant
is
primarily an East Anglian name, with most sightings in Norfolk and
Suffolk. The Durrants of Scottow in NE
Norfolk claimed descent from an earlier Derbyshire family.
They had established themselves at Scottow
House in the late 16th century and, after Thomas Durrant was High
Sheriff of
Norfolk in 1784, became baronets.

There
were Durrants in the coastal town of Lowestoft in Suffolk by the 17th
century. One family were merchants and
brewers. Dorothy
Durrant
testified in the Lowestoft witch trial of 1662. The Durrant name appeared in Stowmarket,
Walton, Bucklesham, and Ixworth parish records in Suffolk from the
early 18th century.

Elsewhere.
The Rev. Robert
Durant was rector at Hagley in Worcestershire in the late 1600’s. From his respectable family came
less-than-respectable descendants.
George Durant got rich, it is believed, from the slave trade and
bought
with the proceeds the entire village of Tong on Shropshire’s eastern
border in
1764. Both he and his son George were
noted for their wanton lifestyles and illicit affairs.
The children of son George and his mistress
Mary Bradbury took the name of St. George and emigrated to New Zealand
.


Canada
. There
were French soldiers and settlers in what was then called New France as
early
as the 1650’s. The King even encouraged
young women to emigrate through his “fille du roi” program. Their numbers included Francoise Durand who
married Jacques Beaudauin in New France in 1671.

A
Parisian family by the name of Durand was in Quebec City in 1661 and
others of
that name followed in the next decade.
Jean Durand from Doeul-sur-le-Mignon in SW France was an
enlistee,
accepting service in New France for a three year period.
He arrived in 1657 and decided to stay,
marrying a local Huron woman. His line was
documented in Joseph Durand’s 1954 book Jean
Durand et Sa Posterite
. Son Louis
Durand, born in Quebec in 1670, was an early explorer of this new land,
venturing as far away as Minnesota.

Francis Durant, born
in Quebec of French parents in 1780, migrated to Dundas county in
Ontario with his four sons to farm
in the early
1830’s
.


America
. There
were a number of Durant Huguenots who came to America:

  • George
    Durant, a descendant of Huguenot immigrants into England, was to
    be found in Middleton, Connecticut by the 1650’s. Edward Durant
    of this family
    was a prominent landowner in Newton, Massachusetts in the next century. The line was covered in Rev. William Durant’s
    1895 book A History of the Descendants of
    George and Elizabeth Durant
    .
  • Dr.
    John
    Durand from La Rochelle arrived in America sometime in the 1690’s and
    settled
    in Derby, Connecticut. Descendants
    included Asher Brown Durand, one of the founder members of the Hudson
    river
    school of painting. The family history was covered in
    Alvy Ray Smith’s 2003 book Dr. John Durand of Derby,
    Connecticut and
    His Family.
  • Henry
    DuRant came to South Carolina sometime in the late 1600’s.
    His descendants were plantation owners in
    South Carolina on Lynch’s Creek.
  • and
    Benjamin
    Durant, who has been identified by
    historians as being descended from French Huguenots, left South
    Carolina and
    settled along the Alabama river sometime in the 1780’s.
    His family intermarried with local Creek and
    Choctaw Indians, with one line founding Durant Town in Oklahoma.

There were two
prominent later Durants from early New England settlers:

  • one line from George
    Durant descended to Thomas C. Durant, a prominent financier and
    railroad
    promoter of the mid-19th century. He
    lost much, however, in the 1873 panic. His
    son William West Durant helped promote the Adirondacks
    Mountains in
    upstate New York for tourism.
  • while another
    line began with Edward Durant, born in Boston in 1725. Billy Durant was born there
    in 1861,
    but at the age of ten moved with his family to Flint, Michigan where he
    was to
    make his mark as one of the pioneers of the American automobile
    industry.

Will
Durant, the co-author with his wife of The
Story of Civilization
, was born near Boston in 1885. He was the son of
French-Canadian
parents who had been part of the 19th century Quebec emigration to the
United
States. Other
Quebec
Durand families settled in Minnesota and Wisconsin.


Louisiana.
The Durand name was to be found in Louisiana, Durand being
one of the family names of Acadians forced into exile in Louisiana in
1755.

But the best-known Durand of that
region was Charles Durand.
He had arrived from
France in 1820 and established one of the Louisiana’s largest sugar
cane
plantations at St. Martinville.
His home was the
setting for the famous story handed down about his daughters’
spider wedding.

 


Select
Durant Miscellany

Durands, Durants and Durrants Today

Numbers (000’s) Durands Durants Durrants
France   90    2
Belgium    1
UK    1    2    9
Canada    9    2    1
USA    2    3
Elsewhere    1    1
Total  102   11   11

Marie Durand, The Huguenot Girl Who Refused to Abjure.  In 1730 in southern France, a young girl by the name of Marie Durand was
brought before
the authorities charged with the Huguenot heresy. She was just fourteen
years of
age, bright, attractive, and marriageable.
She was asked to abjure (recant, deny) the Huguenot faith and
say:
“J’abjure.”  She would not comply.  She was put in a tower by the sea, together
with thirty other Huguenot women.

For
thirty eight years this treatment continued.  And
instead of the hated word “J’abjure,” she
– together with her fellow martyrs – scratched on the wall of the
prison tower
the single word “Resistez,” resist!  The
word is still to be seen and gaped at by tourists on the stone wall at
Aigues-Mortes.

Dorothy Durant, Ghost of Botathen.  The story
of Dorothy Durant, the ghost of Botathen (a small hamlet on the
Cornish/Devon
border), first appeared in the journal of the Rev. John Ruddall, the
curate at
Launceston, in 1665.  It became a
favorite of writers on the supernatural ever since.

Ruddall’s
help had been
sought by a Mr. Bligh whose son was experiencing a haunting that was
affecting
him both mentally and physically.  Every
morning on his way to his tutors, the boy would pass by fields and meet
the
ghost of Dorothy Durant who had died about three years earlier.

Both
the
Reverend and Mr. Bligh went along with the boy one morning and also
observed
the specter. They well knew this woman during her lifetime and had been
present
at her burial.  The minister described
the apparition as having a pale and stony face, misty hair, and eyes
fixed firm
on something far away.  One arm was
outstretched and her other hand was on her girdle.
She glided past the spot where they stood
without looking at them.

Ruddall
sought permission from the bishop to exorcise
the spirit.  Two days later he went back
to the spot wearing an inscribed ring and carrying a rowan stick.  He marked a circle and a pentacle on the
grass.  The next day at sunrise he redrew
his circle and the ghost entered it willingly.  He performed the
exorcism and
the spirit glided off westward and was never seen again.

Dorothy Durrant and the Lowestoft Witch Trial.  William Durrant
had married Dorothy Fox in 1654 and they were to have eight children.  The first of them – William born in 1655 –
was the infant whom Dorothy claimed had been stricken by Amy Denny’s
diabolical
machinations when he was two.  The second
whom Dorothy claimed was “bewitched” was Elizabeth.
She was a daughter from William’s first
marriage, Dorothy being her stepmother.
According to Dorothy’s testimony, Elizabeth died at Lowestoft in
March
1659.

Amy
Denny was tried and hanged as
a witch three years later. 

John Durant’s Murder on Lynch’s Creek.  John Durant had a large plantation of slaves on Lynch’s Creek which he willed to John Ashmore, his nephew. One night in 1842 the
uncle was drunk.  John Ashmore was said to
have tied a silk handkerchief round his neck and strangled him in order
to take
possession of the property.  He also took
liberties with the female slaves.

Three
brothers of the deceased – Alex, Davy,
and Dr. Durant – believed John Ashmore had murdered their brother and
they sued
him for the property.

Durant Town, Oklahoma.  Durant Town, the capital of Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory, was located just
north of
the Texas border. The Durants, after
whom the town was named, had married into the Choctaws of Mississippi.  In the 1830’s, they were removed from their
homelands and forced to ply a “Trail of Tears” westward.
Pierre Durant and his four sons all made this journey.  On
their arrival at the
Choctaw Nation, they claimed property in and around present-day Durant.

Pierre’s grandson Dixon is
recognized as the founder of Durant.  The
town had
originally been named
Durant Station in 1872 when an old boxcar had been placed along the
tracks of the
Union Pacific Railway.  Though small,
Durant boasted a Main Street stretching nearly three electrically-lit
blocks,
several hotels, a bank, a cotton gin, a flour mill, and a post office.

Charles Durand and the Spider Wedding.  Charles Larroque’s Memories
of St. Martinville
contained the following on Charles Durand and his
extravagances:

“Oak and Pine Alley was planted by the slaves of Charles
Jerome Durand around 1829.  The three-mile alley leading from the
Bayou Teche to Durand’s house was a veritable landmark, leaving no
doubt as to the social position of the property owner.  Like the
sugarcane he planted, Durand’s imagination knew no bounds.  The
plantation family was awakened each morning to servants spraying
perfumed mists. After baths in scented waters, daily routines began
with promenades in gold-ornamental carriages rivaling even those of
Versailles.

In
1850, on the occasion of the simultaneous weddings of his two
daughters,
Durand’s slaves decorated the arboreal alley in a manner befitting his
most
eccentric nature.  Prolific web-spinning
spiders were brought in (some say from the nearby Atchafalaya Basin,
others say
from as far away as China) and were released in the trees to go about
their
arachnidan business.  Then slaves went to
their task of coating the dewy, billowing webs with gold and silver
dust blown
from bellows.  And under this splendidly
shimmering canopy proceeded the ethereal promenade of the wedding party
and its
two thousand guests.”

Durand
in fact ordered a large shipment of spiders from China and he sent
couriers to
California to fetch hundreds of pounds of silver and gold dust.  Shortly before the wedding day, the spiders
were released, and spun countless, delicate webs bridging the limbs and
Spanish
mosses of the oak and pine trees that led up to the mansion.   Legend has it that servants placed elegant carpets
beneath the trees, leading to an open-air altar at the far end of the
alley.  The wedding was known locally
and even to this day simply as “the spider wedding.”

The wedding was probably Charles Durand’s
last hurrah.  He had lost much of his
wealth after the Civil War. His slaves were freed, his home was
damaged, his
sugar mill was seized, and he died five years later in 1870.

 


Select
Durant Names

  • George Durant was an early settler in the Carolinas and has
    sometimes been called the father of North Carolina. 
  • Billy Durant was a leading pioneer of
    the American automobile industry, a co-founder of both Chevrolet and General Motors.   
  • William J. Durant was an American writer, best known for his mammoth The Story of Civilization, co-written with his wife Ariel between 1935 and 1975.

Select Durant/Durrant/Durand Numbers Today

  • 12,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 5,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 14,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

 

Select Durant and Like Surnames.

These are French-originated names, French Canadian surnames that were brought by French settlers to what was then New France.  Many are found in Louisiana after the Acadian exodus from the Canadian maritime provinces in the 18th century.  Here are some of the French surnames that you can check out.

BernardDurantLandryTrudeau
BlanchardDuvalMartinVincent

 

 

 

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