Select Durant Surname Genealogy

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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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.

.  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.

.  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

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

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 Durants/Durrants/Durands 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)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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