Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Dent Name
Dent is thought to have originated from one of two sources. The first and most likely origin, is geographical, taking its name from locations in Yorkshire and Cumberland called Dent. The name of these locations derived from the medieval words “Denet” or “Dinet” which are Anglicized versions of the ancient Irish “dinn” or “dind” meaning “hill”. The second source of origin is thought to possibly be from the medieval French word “dent” which translates to teeth, so it is thought to have been a nickname relating to someone who had an appealing smile.
When looking into the history of surnames, it is apparent that they may derive from a variety of sources. In the case of Dent, they may be formed from things such as defining physical traits, a familiar geographical location or a topographical landmark found near the individuals home or birthplace or the name of the village in which the person lived. People also made use of patriarchal or matriarchal names, reference to an individual’s occupation was also a common source of surnames.
The use of surnames did not become a common practice among the general population in most of Europe until the 16th century, until that time surnames were used mostly among the nobility. As the towns and cities of Europe began to grow in size, replacing the smaller villages of earlier times, surnames proved to serve at least two practical purposes. First, it allowed the distinguishing of people, one from another. Secondly, they allowed governments an easier way to track people for census, tax, and immigration records. Because literacy was an attribute found primarily among the noble class, the clergy, and government officials.
However, one apparent issue with the record keeping of the time was the lack of continuity in the spelling of many names, a fact which could be attributed to a lack of spelling guidelines used by the scribes and record keepers. This is apparent in the variations found of the name in the afore mentioned records. Variations in the spelling of the name found in older records include but are not limited to; Dent; Dentte; and Dentt.
One of the earliest record of any variation of this surname is that of Waltheed de Dent which appears in records from the Durham Priory dated 1131 from 1563 during King Henry I’s reign. Aside from church records maintained by churches, governments also kept immigration records and taxation records as well, some of which date back to the 12th century.
With the discovery of America and the addition of other countries to the British Commonwealth such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the use of surnames helped with the tracking of immigrants as well. One of the first recorded immigrants to America bearing the surname was Francis Dent who arrived and settled in Salem Massachusetts in 1630. Thomas Dent was one of the early settlers in Canada, arriving in Nova Scotia in 1749. Harry, Jane, and Sarah Dent are some of the earlier settlers to Australia, arriving and settling in Adelaide in 1839 and James Dent was an early settler to New Zealand, arriving and settling in Wellington in 1856.
Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Dent are found in Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United States, and Ireland. State by state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Dent is in Georgia and West Virginia.
There are many notable people with the surname Dent. Sir Alfred Dent, born in London, was an entrepreneur and British colonial merchant.
He was educated at Eton College after which he became a partner in the family business, Dent & Co., eventually becoming head of the firm. Dent’s other business ventures included chairmanship of the Shanghai Electric Construction Company, and directorships of the London County and Westminster Bank, the Chartered bank of India, Austria, and China, and the Royal Exchange Assurance Corporation. In 1898, Dent was made a Knight Commander in the Order of St. Michael and St. George.
Julia Boggs Dent was the wife of Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States. Julia was from an area near St. Louis, Missouri. She and Grant were married for thirty-seven years and had four children.
Dent Coat of Arms Meaning
The four main devices (symbols) in the Dent blazon are the fusil, bend, border engrailed and escallop. The three main tinctures (colors) are sable, or and gules .
Sable, the deep black so often found in Heraldry is believed to named from an animal of the marten family know in the middle ages as a Sabellinœ and noted for its very black fur . In engravings, when colors cannot be shown it is represented as closely spaced horizontal and vertical lines, and appropriately is thus the darkest form of hatching, as this method is known . Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy .
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.. Along with, argent, or silver it forms the two “metals” of heraldry – one of the guidelines of heraldic design is that silver objects should not be placed upon gold fields and vice versa . The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo..
Red in heraldry is given the name Gules, sometimes said to be the “martyr’s colour”. The colour is also associated with Mars, the red planet, and the zodiacal sign Aries . Later heralds of a more poetical nature would sometimes refer to the colour as ruby, after the precious stone..
The fusil is a shape rather like a lozenge but taller and narrower, hence fusily refers to a field of similar shapes arranged in a regulat pattern. It is though that the shape originally derived from that of a spindle of yarn. Wade believes that the symbol is of very great age and quotes an earlier writer, Morgan who ascribes it the meaning of “Negotiation”.
The bend is a distinctive part of the shield, frequently occuring and clearly visible from a distance – it is a broad band running from top left to bottom right . Indeed, so important is the bend that it was the subject of one of the earliest cases before the English Court of Chivalry; the famous case of 1390, Scrope vs Grosvenor had to decide which family were the rightful owners of Azure, a bend or (A blue shield, with yellow bend). . The bend is held in high honour and may signify “defence or protection” and often borne by those of high military rank .
The border, (sometimes bordure) is a band running around the edge of the shield, following the edge contours and being differently coloured, possibly holding a series of small charges placed on top of it . To distinguish it from similar arms, heraldic artists developed a series of decorative edges (obviously these are applied only to the inner edge). A common form of this patterning, engrailed is a series of scalloped indentations with the points facing outwards – and should not be confused with invected, which has the points facing inwards! Wade believes that both of these indented forms represent “earth or land”, and one perhaps can indeed see the furrowed earth embodied in them.