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About the study
This study is considered small to medium in size compared to other surnames (see Frequency of Name, below). I have upwards of 20,000 Culbert records in my database so far. This study is challenging because: 1) the history of the surname includes abundant records of migration from Europe to other parts of the world; 2) the surname is also commonly used as a given name (e.g. Culbert L. Olson, Governor of the State of California, 1939-1943), which hampers broad searches of this name (see Footnote 1); and 3) although the origins of the surname are in Europe with a Caucasian ancestry, there is a growing population of African Americans carrying this surname who may or may not be related by birth. For this latter challenge I have yet to find any evidence of how these people became Culberts.
I am looking for CULBERT researchers in Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand to help me with this study. If interested, please contact me.
In Ireland, the surname CULBERT may stem from CULBHEART, which is said to be a Gaelic form of 'crafty'. Crafty is related to 'wisdom,' which is a Gaelic form of CUTHBERT, and this may suggest there is a connection between these surnames. CULBRATH is an eighteenth century variant of CULBERT in County Monaghan, Ireland according to CULBERTSON researcher Dale Leppard. It is also believed that CULBERT is derived from CUTBERT, and this earlier spelling is very similar to CUTHBERT and CUTHBERTSON, and another possible reason for the close relationship between these surnames. In Ireland, I have found that the CULBERT, CULBERTSON and CUTHBERTSON surnames are sometimes used interchangeably.
There is one apparently similar surname, CULBER, for which I have yet to find any evidence that is related to CULBERT.
Although there are a multitude of variants for this surname (listed on my website, link below), none are currently registered with the Guild of One-Name Studies.
Edward MacLysaght, in his 1999 book, The Surnames of Ireland, 6th Ed., Irish Academic Press, (Dublin, Ireland and Portland, Oregon, USA), states that CULBERT is of Huguenot (French Protestant) origin, and found mainly in Ireland's northern province of Ulster. If this origin is correct, it would suggest that CULBERT families left France with great numbers of other Huguenots destined for other parts of Europe and the British Isles in the years following the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in Paris on 24 Aug 1572. However, I have yet to find evidence of this migration among the CULBERTs.
In France today the CULBERT surname is not common. Rather, it is the COLBERT surname that is prevalent. Only a few links have been found between CULBERT and COLBERT. The COLBERT surname is the subject of a separate study being conducted by Jen Colbert-Davies. She can be reached at email: jlcd at hotmail.co.uk. A June 2003 version of her COLBERT website can be found at the link below.
Distribution of the name
I have compiled the following significant Culbert data sets to date:
Australia - New South Wales births, marriages & deaths (1788-1960)
Canada - federal census (1851, 1881); WWI registrations; Ontario Marriages (1801-1928)
International Genealogical Index
Ireland - birth, marriage & death indexes (extracted 2014)
U.S.A - immigrations; federal census, 1790-1900; marriage index (extracted from FamilySearch May 2014); military records (civil war, WW I registrations, WW II enlistments); Social Security Death Index (to 2011)