There is evidence of `Plant like' names in France dating at least from the 9th century though, more traditionally, the Plant surname has been considered in connection with early evidence in England where it appears to have 13th century origins.
Radulphus Plente had, in 1219, duties to the king for the burbhote of Oxford and for reparations to the king's household (apparently at the royal palace of Woodstock). The spelling Plante occurs by 1262 and, by c1275, the names Plantin and Pl(a/e)nte coexist in Norfolk.
An 1890 book dealt with the spellings Plante and Plente together. The MED (Middle English Dictionary) lists plente and plante as variant spellings of plaunt. The following gloss introduces views and evidence about the meaning of this name.
1. Such evidence as that above for Radulphus Plente leads to Old Postulate 1 that Plant means a `royalist auxiliary'. The early distribution of Pl(a/e)nte records has shown that a few of them were in proximity to the Warren earls of Surrey who had descended from Geoffrey Plante Genest (now spelled Plantagenet) of Anjou. A much better coincidence of locations has more recently been found, however, with an illegitimate line of descent from Geoffrey's grandson, Henry II's natural son William Longspee, leading to the Longspee-Audley hypothesis. An 1860 Surname Dictionary and an 1862 book note that the Plant name is supposed to be corrupted from Plantagenet. It is not unknown for servants to have adopted names from their masters.
2. Further considerations lead on to Old Postulate 2 that Plant may allude in some way to illegitimate descent (cf. the Plant Heraldry). Early occurrences of Pl(a/e)nte are found near 1254-8 records for Roger Plantyn, who was an auxiliary to a Warren-Bigod earl. The most pertinent connection for this now seems to be that Henry II's mistress, Ida de Tosny, was William Longspee's mother before she married Roger Bigod, maintaining the integrity of the Longspee-Audley feudal hypothesis for the overlords of the early Plants, and indeed also including her descent to lordship over the bye-name Plantyn. Plantyn can be considered as a possible diminutive of some other Plant-like name. Diminutives of names are sometimes said to denote illegitimate descent. A 1916 book suggested Plant had such a meaning as a young offspring. The Welsh meaning of plant is children.
3. A 1916 book suggests that the name form de la Plaunt is locative and meant `from the plantation'. This forms a basis for Old Postulate 3 though this also carries such alternative connotations as `from the (Plantagenet) Palatine of Chester' or `from the Plantagenet manor of la Planteland' or `from the plant soul as the first principal of life' (rather as LeVert or de la Greene might mean `of vigorous young growth' and DuPlan(t)e might mean `earthly child' [i.e. minor mundis] or `from the planted Word of creation').
Initial DNA evidence suggests that the Plants descend largely from a single family. This does not directly confirm a traditional view that Plant is a "multi-origin" surname, as was believed in connection with the meaning gardener. Computer simulations show that the name could have had several origins and that most have died out, or grown little, in contrast to the main Plant family which has grown abnormally large. On the other hand, an early start to the name would help with explaining the abnormal size, if the main Plant family had already reached a substantial size before the fourteenth century for which there is some evidence provided that we allow some mobility between early isolated records of the name.
The Welsh word plant means children. The early meaning of planta (Latin) and plante (Old English) was a `shoot for propagation'; and there is evidence, in Middle English and early English books, that some people took the `offshoot' meaning of plante and mapped it up the Great Chain of Being to get `offspring' for a person. In Irish and in the historic Palatine of Chester, this word had the similar meaning scion or child.
Another possibility is that the original spelling of Plant may have been Plente, meaning `abundant' or `fertile', and this may have been inspired partly by impolite sense to the Plante Genest nickname. Shortly afterwards, the spelling of Plente may have been sanitised to Plante or Plonte, meaning `children'; and, still later, the Plantegenest nickname evidently became sufficiently embellished with godly sense to make it acceptable as a royal surname. I outlined this in a 2007 academic paper, including an Appendix relating to the cultural context of the Plant surname: J.S.Plant (2007) The tardy adoption of the Plantagenet surname, Nomina, Vol 30, pp. 57-84.
The modern surname Plenty, and perhaps also Plant, may have derived from Plente. So far, only one Plenty has been DNA tested and he does not belong to the same male-line family as Plant. This does not rule out, however, a possibility of some early confusion between Plente and Plante at least in regard to these names' medieval meaning.
A more godly sense to Plantagenet can be related to `Plantagenet favoured' concepts of The Plant Soul providing collocations that relate to the implantation of seed, vertu, the Lord's creative Word, as well as the vegetable soul with its powers of growth and generation.
A local usage of plaunten around the main Plant homeland applied to the Lord's planted creation. However, such a sense is not generally favoured for the English Plant surname, not least because any understanding of Plantagenet piety is mostly absent in modern popular culture. There is perhaps more to support a sense of politico-religious foundation for Planta and some Plant-like names in the Alps.
It is possible that there could have been some cultural influence from the Plante Genest nickname in England but there is no evidence that the Plants were genetically related to the Plantagenets. It is possible that the English Plants began with an `abundant' or `fertile' meaning to their name, with the spelling Plente, and that this had been influenced by a `hairy shoot' meaning to Plante Genest. Though the nature of this influence may not seem obvious, a study of medieval writings reveals that there was a metaphysical connection, since the plant powers (i.e. vegetable soul) of a hairy shoot (Plantagenet) brought forth the plenty (Plente) of growth and offspring.
There are many who simply persist with the much publicised gardener interpretation, especially for one early instance of the Plant by-name near Hull. That is not remiss in itself, except that `gardener' has often been presented as the only possible meaning even though the supposed meaning near Hull is away from the Plants' main homeland and, upon closer examination, the debatable evidence can be dismissed as purely coincidental. Certainly, the medieval word plaunt had various meanings and one can identify at least three main hypotheses, which can be supplemented with a fourth:
These three hypotheses are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Thus, the earliest evidence appears to support (3) above; and, the meanings (2) and (1) may have subsequently developed, or arisen independently, in different localities. Alternatively, a more all-embracing hypothesis is:
- 1. Gardener - this theory has persisted for over half a century though it does not stand up well to scrutiny;
- 2. Offspring - this century-old explanation is compatible with more of the evidence and assumes particular significance in the surname's main homeland, near Wales;
- 3. From la Planta - though the Alps are very distant from England, recently uncovered evidence reveals an early migration of a priest with the name Plante from there to the Diocese of London - furthermore, the earliest known form of the hereditary name is Planta in the Swiss Alps and an early `de la Planta' form of the name nearer in France means `from La Planta' with apparent traces of the subsequent development of this name form into Plant.
- 4. From the planting or breeding place - this is a variation of a century-old (but perhaps slightly misleading) contention `from the plantation or enclosure' and it can be justified as an improved variation on `a gardener' (whose Plant name could have been derived instead from living near a garden enclosure). As well as an Alpine la Planta there might have been other similarly based local names and, to support this, there is for example a placename Plantis in Normandy (hence perhaps the 1282 name de Plantes in England meant from Plantis in Lower Normandy). The case for this meaning is argued further below.
A family in humble circumstanches at Kettering, bear the ancient royal name of Plantagenet, though now it is commonly corrupted to Plant. See a late number of the``Leicester Mercury.''
`The PLANTS are very numerous in the Eccleshall district (Staffordshire). The name of Plente occurred in the 13th century in Hunts and Oxfordshire. There are also now a few representatives of the name Plant in Suffolk and Shropshire.'On page 536, he attributes 0.014% of the general population in Shropshire to the Plant name, 0.060% in Staffordshire and 0.016% in Suffolk.
Plant itself is generally local (i.e. of the locative type) [John de la Plaunt, of Rouen, Pat.R.], from OF. plante, enclosure, plantation, but its occurrence in the Rolls without de [Robert Plante, Hund.R.] suggests that it was also a nickname, from ME. plant used in a variety of senses, sprig, cudgel, young offspring (see NED.).On page 268, he adds:-
Planterose [John Planterose, Hund. R.] and Pluckrose [Alan Pluckrose, ib] still exist and have plenty of medieval support; cf. Simon Schakerose (Pat.R.), Peter Porterose (ib.), Andrew Plantefene (Leic. Bor. Rec.), and Elyas Plantefolye (Fine R.). Pluckerose has a parallel in Cullpepper [Thomas Cullepeper or Colepepyr, Pat. R.] with which cf. Richard Cullebene (Hund.R.).
On page 276 of the 1976 edition of A Dictionary of British Surnames, P.H.Reaney (1958) lists:-
On page 30 of the book Surnames, DNA, & Family History by George Redmonds, Turi King, and David Hey, George Redmonds writes:-
One further aspect of by-names that has received little attention is the direct link between occupations and nicknames. ... but occasionally the context supports the inference. For example, Reaney's explanation of Plant as a by-name for a gardener received little support from John Plant in his recent article [Plant J.S., 2005. Modern Methods and a Controversial Surname Nomina 28: 115-33] on the surname and yet `William Plant, gardiner' was a Hull taxpayer in 1379.The appeal of the gardener meaning for Plant, however, depends on two psychological biases which are shared by us all, though they are irrational. First, there is the so-called "availability bias" of envisaging plants only in modern gardens though the medieaval meanings of the word are various and different. Secondly, there is the so-called "confirmation bias" of citing the example of a gardener though all other known early occupations of the early Plants disconfirm the meaning.
For the purpose of a fuller consideration of the Plant name, it is important to note that the gardener assumption considers only one selected hypothesis and one selected instance of the name which is away from the Plants' main homeland. There are other records for Plant by-names, some earlier, which do not support the gardener hypothesis, such as:
merchant (Geoffrey Plaunt in 1273); once bailiff of Marsfelde (Robert Plonte in c.1280); priest (Henry Plante in 1350); draperie (Will. Plante in 1376); agricole (Johannes Plante in 1381); and, chaplain (William Plonte in 1386).Arguing that they all might be compatible with the `gardener' hypothesis is not enough - as a counter argument, they are all of course compatible with the `offspring' hypothesis for example. Moreover, there are earlier `de la Planta' forms of the name, with traces of this in the name's subsequent development into Plant.
A more comprehensive view is that the name might have originally meant `from the Planta' region of the Alps. This is supported by the 1350 record for the London priest, who was from Risole, evidently Risoul in the French Alps. The name then might have morphed or arisen independently for a gardener near Hull and to mean clan or children near Wales and/or to have a different locative origin in the main Plant homeland.
The meaning `gardener', though it has become pervasive for Plant, appears in no language dictionary for the word plant. Even the industrial meaning of plant appears in the Oxford English Dictionary though such usage has not been fully established before the eighteenth century. If `gardener' can be invented for the medieval name, so can medieval usage of a `planting or breeding' plant or place and, indeed, this is not inconsistent with the contemporary philosophy in which the powers of man's and animals' vegetable soul were believed to be the nutritive, augmentative and generative. We also have that plante means a `bed or planting place' in French, to plant can mean `to procreate' in archaic English, and planta means `to procreate or breed' in Welsh. To this, we can add that the first known location in the main Plant homeland is in 1373 for Thomas Plontt who had failed to pay a fine at the Black Prince's vaccary (cattle station) where all of the plant soul powers (feed, growth and breeding) would have been in evidence.
Reference: Dr John S. Plant (2001) Roots and Branches, Issue Number 21, etc.
For the gardener hypothesis, Reaney used a partial argument, basing it on just a couple of selected `Plant like' names. Based carefully on the medieval name and linguistic evidence, a fuller set of possible interpretations is as follows:-
|Plant(a/e)genet||de facto establisher lord, or a horse borne establisher, or (from the) plant-horse genera, or perhaps an implanter of ingenuity, or more usually the meaning is said to be `sprig of broom', which is a hairy shoot|
|Plantebene||hallowed establisher offshoot, or a pleasant establisher child, or a favour of the plant soul, or a petitioner of prayer to the Virgin Mary, or an implanter of little or nothing, or an implanter of (human or animal) seed, or a gardener (it may literally mean plant-well)|
|Plantefolie||wickedness offshoot, or foolishness or sinfulness (bastard) child, or an implanter of contrition of crime, or an implanter of wickedness (illegitimacy), or perhaps a foot fuller or a foal borne establisher, or perhaps a tree-shoot planter, or a foal breeder|
|Plente||abundant or generous or fertile, or Nature's plenty, or an imparter of plenarty of the plant soul, or a variant spelling of Plante or Palente|
|Palente||from the palace or palatine with associated rights|
|Planterose||courtly establisher child, or an implanter of pride or praise, or an infuser of the virtue of the Virgin Mary, or a surveyor, or an establisher of land rights or order, or a gardener, or an aroused shoot, or a resurrected or ascended or elevated or augmented plant soul, or an implanter of females|
|Plantyn or Plante||Nature's child, or an implanter of the augmentative or generative powers of the plant soul, or an imparter of virtue or gallantry, or an offshoot or offspring, or the Welsh meaning children, or a gardener or breeder or philanderer, or from the planting or breeding enclosure|
|le Plaunter||establisher, or infuser, or philanderer, or planter, or breeder|
|de la Planta or de la Plaunt||of the plant soul, or from the first principal of life, or from the shoot, or offshoot or offspring, or from the Alpine region of La Planta, or from the planting or breeding enclosure|
|Plantefene||eager implanter, or happy child, or perhaps a shoot or spear lunger, or perhaps a planter of corn, or a happy breeder|
|Von Planta, Planta||from the shoot, or from the first principal of life, or from the garden source of the River Inn (Engadin)|
Early records for `Plant like' names can be grouped into possible antecedants of the Pallant, Plenty and Plant surnames though there are, at least in principle, possible early inter-connections. For example, Palente might have been confused phonologically with Plente. More particularly, there is often paleographical ambiguity between reversed <e> and <o> so that Plente can be confused with Plonte which is the standard spelling of Plante in the early West Midlands dialect area. Apart from the Macclesfield Court Rolls, the following information is taken from transcribed records and the original rolls should ideally be re-examined with these possible ambiguities in mind. Also, there are possible indications of early developments between such name forms as de la Planta, de Plant', de la Plaunt, Plaunt, Plonte, de Plantes, Plante, and Plant.
(A few of these and some later records are shown more fully elsewhere on this website).
Plante Genest's grandson, king John, captured
his nephew Arthur of Brittany at Mirebeau in the Anjou-Poitou Marches on 1st
August; and, a few weeks later, Emeric de la Planta alias
de Plant' was dispossessed of lands there in Chinon and
Loud[un]. Normandy Rolls. 1244 Bishop Vokart (of Chur) appointed Andreas
Planta von Z(ouz), the Chancellor of Upper Engadine and so
confirming the hegemony of the Planta family in the Zouz (Zutz or Suoz)
neighbourhood lasting until 1798. Some
further details about the Swiss Planta family. 1262 Plaunte
William, Essex, Forest Pleas 1273 de la Plaunt and
Plaunt, 3 Rouen merchants, Patent Rolls 1275 June 29th, lease to Thomas Plonte
and Helen his wife from David le Blond and wife Annabel of plot of land to
build a house, 34 feet by 32 feet, and 6 a. of land at la Fortheye in vil of
Bitton [South Gloucestershire] (cf. 1280 entry for Saltford, 2 miles away),
Berkeley Castle Muniments, The Blount estate, BCM/E/1/1/49 1275 Plauntes William, Norfolk, Rotuli
Hundrederum 1279 Plante William,
Cambridge, Rotuli Hundrederum 1279 At Burgh in Lincolnshire, `assize of mort dancestor
arraigned by Alan son of Hugh Plante against John son of
John Plante, touching land in.' Newly transcribed
Patent Rolls c1280-1303 Robert
Plonte, of Saltford, once bailif of Marsfelde [Bath BC
151/4/14, 151/4/15] 1282 de
Plantes Henry, appeal in Huntingdonshire, Patent Rolls 1301 Plant Richard, rights
to coal, Ewelowe near Chester, Flint [Pipe Rolls Cheshire in LCRS
92, 205] 1303 Johannes
Plonte [S.L.Thrupp and H.B.Johnson (1964) The earliest
Canterbury freeman's rolls 1298-1363 in Kent Records (Ashford, 1912-)
Kent Archaeological Society 18 181] 1312 Sarah wife of John Plonte of
Canterbury, sale of 4s of annual rent, Canterbury Cathedral Archives
U/4/1/80 1315 April 29th, John Plonte, witness to
transfer of messuage and buildings in Canterbury, Canterbury Cathedral
Archives, CCA-Dcc-ChAnt/C/1080 1321 Luke Plonte of Nettlebed,
Oxfordshire, Patent Rolls 1328 Thomas Plonte and Robert his son [Bath
BC 151/3/55] 1329 Robert Plonte
son of Walter Plonte [Bath BC 151/2/46, 151/2/47] 1340 Robert son of Thomas Plonte [Bath BC
151/3/56] 1340-49 Robert Plonte
[Bath BC 151/2/27, 151/2/28, 151/2/48, 151/2/25, 151/6/70,
151/5/90] 1344 Plant John, son of
Alan, of Burgh Marsh co. Lincoln, Patent Rolls 1349 mention of tenement of John Plonte
[Bath BC 151/2/42] 1350 cottage of William Plante. Deed dated
2 Oct 1350 at Haughley in Suffolk 1350 Henry Plante of Risole, priest of the
diocese of London. Clergy, the religious and the faithful in Britain and
Ireland 1352 Plant
James, and others carried away goods at Welles, Warham and Styvekey co.
Norfolk, Patent Rolls c1360 mention of land of
Walter Plonte [Bath BC 151/2/38] 1360 onwards First
known Plants in main homeland, as yet 2 with the surname Plontt have been
found by 1360 and at least 7 in 35 entries in the 1370s, for the Macclesfield
Court Rolls of east Cheshire. Note on the Macclesfield part of the
main Plant homeland. Only 2% of the Forest
was assarted or approved around the Macclesfield
Manor township of Rainow, where a number of Plants
had arrived, by 1383. A decade earlier, another Plant had been around 8
miles to the south near the boundary with Leek parish in Staffordshire where
surviving records for that early are less complete.
Midway between the two was the Macclesfield Manor
township called Sutton and Plants were acquiring land there too. A M Tonkinson
[Macclesfield in the Later Fourteenth Century, 1999] has estimated
that Ranulph Plont of Rainow was an average landholder in Macclesfield Forest
around 1349-96 and, by ca.1400, perhaps it could have been the same Ranulph
Plont who was a guarantor for others, including Nicholas Gardener who was
in the top 12% of the Macclesfield Forest landholders. This 1349-96
mention of the name
Gardener can be debated alongside mention of the term junior and, for
example, John Plant could initially have meant something similar to John
Junior (cf. linguistic evidence for the early meaning offspring)
when such descriptors were earlier being added to forenames. 1363 Plontt Thomas indicted; then in 1365
outlawed and committed to prison pending paryment of a surety of 20s;
Macclesfield Court Rolls 1373 Plontt Thomas had failed to pay the fee
or fine for pasturing a bullock at the Black Prince's vaccary at Midgley,
near the Macclesfield-Leek boundary and, in 1375, he was indicted;
Macclesfield Court Rolls 1376 Will. Plante, draperie, Leicester
Borough Archives 1376 John Plonte?, witness to quitclaim of
land at Ernele, Wiltshire and Swindon Archives, 1720/175 1377 Willelmo Plant, gardiner, Myton, East
Riding of Yorkshire, Poll Tax 1379 Johannes Plonte, Offchurch,
Warwickshire, Poll Tax 1379 Thomas Plonte
aided and abetted the beheading of John de
Warton of Leek, on behalf of the Abbot of Dieulaces Abbey. On 5 May 1382, he
obtained the King's Letters Patent, pardonning him of all felonies committed
previous to 10 December 1381. Staffordshire Historical Collection XIV,
156-157 1381 Johannes Plante, agricole, Great
Finsborough, Suffolk, Poll Tax returns 1381 wife of Walterus Plante amongst family
servants at Pentlow, Essex, Poll Tax returns 1383-84 Ranulph Plont (father of John
Plont snr and grandfather of William Plont
and John Plont jnr), leasing land at Rainow, east Cheshire.
Macclesfield Court Rolls 1386 Plonte
William, chaplain (land of prior and convent of Bath), rent in Olveston,
Gloucestrehire, Patent Rolls 1394 Plaint John, aged 60
years or more, witness at Lincoln to proof of age of John of Gaunt's
mistress's husband's son - John Plaint had been servant to Master Thomas de
Sutton, Calendar of Inquisitions 1395 John Plonte witnessed a conveyance of
John de Grenley of land in Leek to Thomas Payge. R+B,2,7 1397 John and Richard Plont, sued, trespassing
herds of cows at Quarford, north Staffordshire. Staffordshire Historical
Collection, XV, 78-79. 1401 Richard Plont guarantor for farm of
deadwood; Ranulph Plont guarantor for farm of coal in the
forest of Macclesfield,
Macclesfield Court Rolls 1401 witness John Plonte the Younger of
Overton. Staffordshire Historical Collections 1928 41, Ancient Deeds
Preserved at the Wodehouse, Wombourne 76 2/65 1406 Edward Plont gained from the Abbot of
Dieulacres Abbey, near Leek in north Staffordshire, a lease for 39 years
of two mess' one croft called Calwoheye de Roche Graunge. R+B,2,7 1410s John Plont jnr started acquiring
lands at Rainow, Macclesfield Court Rolls
(apparently he who was subsequently listed as one of 98
Knights, Gentlemen and Freeholders in Macclesfield Hundred in 1445) 1438 Richard Plant of Stonycliffe, grant from
Abbot of Dieulacres for enclosure near Lymgrene (Staffs Charters, Ch
186). 1441 John Plante, archer in the
expeditionary French force of Richard, Duke of York under captain John Vere,
Earl of Oxford (TNA E101/53/33 m2 and TNA E101/54/9 m1)
http://www.medievalsoldier.org/search_musterdb.php - around that time, John
de Vere served as joint ambassador to France in 1439 and as Justice of the
Peace in the counties of Essex, Hertford, and Cambridge 1442 John atte Halle otherwise Plant of
Burgh, Lincolnshire, witness to two deeds 13 April and 7 May (Close
Rolls) 1443 William Plantes, goldsmith, Norman
alien at Salisbury, Wiltshire (TNA E179/387/8 Part 1, mm. 3-5, m. 4, tax
assessment, 2 January 1443) identified with 1441 similar record for William
?Plentowe (E179/196/105, m.2, tax assessment, 7 September 1441)
https://www.englandsimmigrants.com/person/55714 - hence
perhaps from Plante family at Pentlow in Essex, as in the
above 1381 record 1285 ate Palente John, Sussex, Assize
Rolls 1296 de Palenta John, Sussex, Subsidy
Rolls 1343 Plente John,
messuage of land, vicar of the cathedral church of Chichester, Sussex, Patent
Rolls 1219 Radulphus Plente
(Oxon) Et in operatione castri de Oxon' infra idem castrum xxiij li. et
iij s. et iiij d. per breve R. et per visum Petri de Haliwell' et Radulfi
Plente. Et in reparatione domorum R. extra villam lxv s. per breve R. et per
visum eorundem. [3 Henry III Pipe Rolls] 1219 William Plente (Kent) Et de dim.
m. de Willelmo Plente pro panno vendito contra assisam. [3 Henry III
Pipe Rolls] 1230 Simon Plente
(York) Et de dim. m. de Willelmo filio Ailredi et Simone Plente pro
eodem. (By reference back to the preceding records eodem
equates to dissaisina.) [14 Henry III Pipe Rolls] 1230-1 Radulphus Plente [ A cartulary
of the Hospitals of St John the Baptist, ed H.E.Slater (1914) in Oxford
Historical Society Publications 68, 202] 1272 Symon Plente [Feet Fines Oxf. in
Oxfordshire Record Society: Record Series (Oxford, 1919-)
12, 200] 1272-84 William
Plente (and then his widow Gerbergia) of Ormesby (Norfolk)
--- charter for piece of land at Hemesby [Norwich Cathedral
Charters] 1307 Robert Plente, witness of quitclaim,
Exeter, Devon Record Office, 5714, M/T/4 1307-26 Matillide Plente, Bosham. [Register
of Bishop Walter de Stapeldon of Exeter, concerning Clerks and Clergy of
Cornwall and Devon, 1307-26, p 56] 1340 Alice Plente, tenement anf garden in
Tavistock, Devon Record Office,482A/PF11 [W68/4] 1342 Plente Walter, Exeter co. Devon,
Patent Rolls 1343 Plente John,
messuage of land, vicar of the cathedral church of Chichester, Patent
Rolls 1343 Plente John, witness
at Theydene Boys on release of claim to lands in Theden Boys, Close
1346 acolite Walter Plente [Register of Bishop John
de Trillek of Hereford, Clerks and Clergy of Herrefordshire, Shropshire and
Gloucestershire, pp. 419, 431] 1348 At Prestbury,
Walter, son of William Plente of Bishop's Castle [Register
of Bishop John de Trillek of Hereford, p. 399] 1349 sub-deacon Walter son of
John Plente; deacon Walter Plente
[Register of Bishop John de Trillek of Hereford, pp. 486, 491] 1350 presbiter Walter Plente de Castro
episc., ad ti. domus de Sandone [Register of Bishop John de Trillek of
Hereford, p. 543] 1361 Roger Plente, witness of Charter of
Feoffment, Exeter, Devon Record Office, 51/1/2/2 1364 Plente Roger of Exeter, license to
take 20 packs of large cloth of divers colours from port of Exeter to
Gascony, Spain, and other parts beyond seas; and to return with wine and
other merchandise to the ports of London, Suthampton, Sandwich or Exeter,
Patent Rolls 1364 Plente Roger,
right to be collector of customs at Exeter, Fine Rolls 1364 Plente Roger, searcher of gold and
silver exported without license in the county of Devon, assault on, Patent
Rolls 1365 Plente Roger, merchant
of Exeter, his ship `le Ceorge' of Exmouth, Patent Rolls 1367 Plente Roger, king's minister in
Devon, Patent Rolls 1368 Plente
Roger, collector of customs in port of Exeter, Patent Rolls 1372 8th November, Roger Plente, mayor of
Exeter, witness to lease, Devon Record Office, 51/1/2/5a-b 1386 30th April, ground formerly belonging to Roger Plente,
Exeter, Devon Record Office, 51/1/3/5 1386 Plente Reynold, rights to yearly rent
had been granted by William Botreaux, knight, the elder, Inquisition at
Launceston Cornwall 1394 Pleyntif Richard, Somerset, Patent
Rolls 1164 Geffrey Plante
illegitimate son, Hamelyn, from Anjou,
married Isabel de Warenne and inherited the
earldom of Surrey with traditional lands in Norfolk etc. Hamelyn's offspring
may have retained some cultural connection to the `de la Planta' name from
their ancestral home of Anjou, though surviving primary evidence for the
early use of the Plant(a/e)genet name is sparse.
Roger de, Chester's Charters 1199 Radulphus
Plantebene (Norfolk) [1 John Pipe Rolls] 1200 Radulphus Planteben' (Norfolk and
Suffolk) [2 John Pipe Rolls] 1209 Plantefolie Gilbert, Leic', Curia
Regis 1210 Plantefene Andrew,
Inhabitants of Leicester (1103-1327).
1214 Planet' Susan de, Jelding' Kent, Curia
Regis 1220 Plantan'
William, Suff', Curia Regis 1221 Planetis Ralph de, Kent, Curia
Regis 1226 Plantefolie John,
Somerset, Curia Regis 1230 Planterose Robert, Warr' Wigorn',
Curia Regis 1254 Plantin Roger, serjent of E. of
Norfolk, Close Rolls 1258 Plantyn
Roger, butler of E. of Norfolk, Close Rolls 1258 Plantyn Roger, lands in Norfolk,
Patent Rolls 1263 Plauntefolie Maud, Weston', Close
Rolls 1266 Plauntegenet Galfrido,
serjent at arms, Wodestock, Close Rolls 1267 Ph'us
filius Elye Plauntefolye, Nottingham. Fine Rolls 1268 Planteng' Roger, Guldeford' Norff',
Close Rolls 1270 Plantefolie
Adam, Welle Fanerwal' (co. York), Close Rolls 1285 Plauntain Henry, Patent
Rolls 1310 Johannes
Planterose [Two Bedfordshire subsidy listings ed
S.H.A.Hervey (1925) Suffolk Green Books 18 87] 1341 le Plaunter Henry,
Cambridge-Huntingdon border dispute, Patent Rolls
It is misleading to place too much emphasis on any one isolated record for the medieval Plant name. However, the following is an attempt to outline some of the general context for some of the available records.
There are some indications of a French, or still earlier Alpine, context to the name. In the Swiss Alps, Zuoz was the site of the Stammhaus, or original castle of the family of Planta, who as far back as 1139, in the times of Geffrey Plante Genest (1113-51), held the Engadine in feof. An early known Plant record, in 1202, in Anjou in western France, can be related to the feuding of Arthur of Brittany and his uncle King John, grandson of Count Geffrey Plante Genest (Plantagenet) of Anjou. It is unclear whether the early Plant records in Angevin France, in 1202 and 1273, were directly related to the noble Planta family, whose hegemony in the Upper Engadine is confirmed in the 1244 record listed above. Also in the Alps, Verbier Castle was probably built in the twelfth century and belonged to the Duchy of Savoy though it was largely destroyed in the Battle of La Planta in 1475.
In England, a Savoyard influence became important in the mid thirteenth century after the 1236 marriage of King John's son, Henry III, to Eleanor of Provence whose uncle, Peter of Savoy, had been granted lands in England by 1240. Peter was appointed guardian of Warenne lands, for example, including the Manor of Boston in south Lincolnshire and the Honour of Lewes in Sussex. These two places coincide with two early instances of the Plant name in England - in 1279, the Plante name was hereditary, apparently for three generations, at Burgh near Boston; and, around 1280, a Plonte is described as `once bailif of Marsfelde', which could have been the one near Lewes. Alpine Savoyard origins might also be associated with the 1301 record of the industrious Richard Plant in Flintshire, who might be set in the context of a Savoyard master mason who, in 1280-82, oversaw, on behalf of Henry III's son, King Edward I, the building of Flint Castle across the river Dee from Chester; this castle was partly rebuilt after a Welsh attack in 1294. Later, the 1350 mention of the London priest Henry Plante of Risole evidently refers to Risoul in the French Alps.
There might also have been associations of the Plant name with traditions ensuing from the earlier English earldom of Chester and Lincoln. As already indicated, the earliest known evidence that the Plant name was hereditary in England is the listed 1279 Plante record for Burgh in Lincolnshire, which suggests that the Plante name had been hereditary for one or two generations previously. A 1344 Plant record for Burgh Marsh indicates that the family was still there some time later. Burgh-le-marsh in Lincolshire is about 16 miles from Boston and 9 miles from Bolingbroke Castle which had been built by Randulf de Blundeville, earl of Chester, and earl of Lincoln from 1217, who also held Huntingdon, which is the location of the de Plantes listed record dated 1282. In 1189, Ranulph had married Countess Constance of Brittany, the widowed daughter-in-law of Geffrey Plante Genest; and, in 1214, he had founded Dieulacres Abbey, near Leek, to relocate the community of Poulton Abbey to the other side of Cheshire, safer from attacks from the Welsh. In 1237, the earldom was annexed by the crown. The Black Prince, eldest son of Edward III, was buying wool from Dieulacres in 1347 and the Abbey owned land near Macclesfield, the location of the Prince's stud farm. Subsequently, there is evidence that the hereditary Plant surname was established in its main homeland, around both Macclesfield and Dieulacres, astride the Cheshire-Staffordshire border, as evidenced in the listed Plont(e) records of 1360, 1373, 1379, 1381, 1383-84, 1395, and 1406.
John of Gaunt, another son of Edward III, acquired Bolingbroke Castle in south Lincolnshire and lived there during the 1360s and 1370s. In 1394, a sexagenerian John Plaint appeared as a witness at Lincoln in connection with the issue of John of Gaunt's earlier extra-marital affair. The Angevin Warennes, descendants of count Geffrey Plante Genest, had by then relocated their main base to Poynton in east Cheshire, near Macclesfield in the main (?subsequent) Plant homeland. The 1352 Plant record can be tentatively associated with this relocation to east Cheshire from the Warenne's Hundred in Norfolk. Migration to the south from east Cheshire might have related partly to the fact that Dieulacres Abbey was a major landholder in Staffordshire; and, as indicated by the listed 1381 Plonte record, the maintenance of these land-holding rights attracted more attention than might be imagined from a more usual view of religious duties for the eleven monks in 1381 at Dieulacres.
How any of this relates to the modern Plant surname is a matter for conjecture and ongoing investigation, except to say that there was an early secondary cluster of the Plant name around Bolingbroke in south Lincolnshire, with the main cluster of the name persisting around Dieulacres, in Leek parish, at the northernmost tip of Staffordshire, just over the border from east Cheshire. This is described further elsewhere on this web site.
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