RANT, Thomas (c.1604-71), of Gray's Inn and Thorpe-next-Norwich, Norf.
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Family and Education
b. c.1604, 3rd s. of William Rant, MD (d.1627) of Norwich, fellow of Caius, Camb. 1589-96, by Mary, da. of Edward Ward of Bixley. educ. Norwich g.s.; Caius Camb. adm. 1 May 1619, aged 15; G. Inn, entered 1619, called 1629. m. by 1634, Mary, da. of Edmund Burwell of Woodbridge, Suff., s.p. Kntd. 24 July 1660.1
Bencher, G. Inn 1645; commr. for assessment, Norf. 1657, Aug. 1660-9, Norwich and Lincs. (Kesteven) Aug. 1660-1; j.p. Norf. 1659-d., 1659-d., commr. for militia Mar. 1660, dep. lt. Sept. 1660-d., commr. for corporations 1662-3.2
Rant’s family can be traced back in Norfolk to the middle of the 15th century. Though they were granted arms in 1583, they belonged chiefly to the professional class. Rant’s father and elder brother were both doctors, and he himself became a lawyer. His brother, a fellow of Caius, contributed to the King’s coffers in the Civil War, and his own sympathies were undoubtedly royalist, but he took no active part. On his brother’s death in 1653 he returned to Norfolk and was appointed to local office under the Protectorate. He inherited property in Norwich and bought an estate at Thorpe Market, just outside the city boundaries.3
‘A very honest gentleman’ in royalist eyes, Rant signed the Norfolk address for a free Parliament in 1660, and was elected to the Convention for Norwich. Doubtless a court supporter he was knighted in July, but he was not active in Parliament. He was appointed only to the committee of elections and privileges, to two committees concerned with the poll-tax, and to another on a bill to establish a chapel in Waltham forest. Though his epitaph records his membership of the ‘Healing Parliament’, he never stood again, nor did any other of the family sit. He died on 2 June 1671 and was buried at Thorpe.4