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About the study
There are two variations of the surname, CULPIN and CULPAN. These appear to have developed separately, from different sources, but it could be that they are connected in the distant past.
The spelling CULPAN appears to have spread originally from a small cluster of villages near to Halifax in West Yorkshire. This spelling of the name seems to be derived from a word meaning a small strip of land. This spelling was very localised and appears to have either changed to the main CULPIN spelling or almost died out.
The main spelling CULPIN appears to have developed from a small number of villages on the Northamptonshire and Rutland border. This spelling, although still not a common surname has spread to many parts of the Country as well as abroad. The surname CULPIN does appear in France and may be a derivative of the more common COLPIN. These names are not popular throughout France but appear mainly in the region around the North East border with Belgium.
Historical occurrences of the name
Origins of the name CULPIN or CULPAN
Finding the original derivation of any surname is not an exact science but this has been particularly difficult with this name. There has been much speculation that the origins were French and certainly that seems to be the best gues we can make at the moment. The CULPIN version is a current surname in France, Belgium and parts of German near the French border, but there is a similar name COLPIN which when pronounced even today sounds very much like our names CULPIN and CULPAN.
Phillipe Catelin, a french genealogist places the origins in a diminutive of the christian name Nicholas (often termed COL)
Nom assez fréquent dans le Nord-Pas-de-Calais et en Belgique. C'est un diminutif du nom de baptême Nicolas, formé à la fois par aphérèse (Nicolas, Nicol > Col) et par suffixation (suffixe diminutif -epin).
Jan George's book on Culpans also traces back the origins of the Culpan form of the surname to France but with a different origin.
The name Culpan is not a common one and is known only in the Halifax area of West Yorkshire from earliest times. It is peculiar to that part of the ancient parish of Halifax allotted to William of Warren, by the King, and comes from the Old French word 'culpan' or 'colpan' meaning 'a detached part'.
Distribution of the name
We currently hold an extensive collection of births, baptisms, deaths, marriages, census, wills, and other items connected with the family name. There is a growing collection of family trees submitted by various members of the different branches of the family.