I am researching the CULBERT surname worldwide. I am also interested in other related surnames because I have seen convincing evidence that these surnames have changed over time. As one example, my earliest known ancestor was shown as Moses CUTHBERT on the ship's passenger list when he emigrated from Ireland, however our family has always been known as CULBERT in America. In Ireland, I have found that the CULBERT, CULBERTSON and CUTHBERTSON surnames are sometimes used interchangeably. I believe that those who bore these names in Ireland came originally from Scotland. Despite traditions indicating that these immigrants to Ireland were from Covenanter stock that came from Scotland in the late 1600s, it is more likely that the CUTHBERTSONs from Scotland settled in Ireland in a much earlier time, and they were the ancestors of many of the later Irish CULBERTSONs.
Surnames began to be used in France about the year 1000 A.D., and in England in the century that followed [ref. Lewis R. Culbertson, M.D., 1893, Genealogy of the Culbertson and Culberson Families, Courier Company, Zanesville, Ohio.] There was a time when a son of a CULBERT father was called CULBERTSON. Today there are many more CULBERTSONs than there are CULBERTs.
There are many commercial histories available for these surnames, and some suggest that the origins of CULBERT and CUTHBERT are English. In particular, they claim that CUTHBERT is Saxon in origin and CULBERT is Norman in origin. Although these surnames are found in England, usually on the border with Scotland, the overwhelming majority of these families resided in Scotland. And, one significant grouping was in the Highlands of Scotland at Inverness.
The surname CULBERT may stem from CULBHEART, which is said to be a Gaelic form of "crafty". Crafty is related to "wisdom," and this suggests a connection with the surname CUTHBERT. It is also believed that CULBERT is derived from CUTBERT, and this earlier spelling is very similar to CUTHBERT and CUTHBERTSON, one reason for the close relationship between these surnames. Edward MacLysaght states that the surname CULBERT is of Huguenot origin, and found mainly in Ireland's northern province of Ulster. [ref. Edward MacLysaght, 1999, The Surnames of Ireland, 6th Ed. (Dublin, Ireland and Portland, Oregon, USA), Irish Academic Press.] CULBRATH is an eighteenth century variant of it in County Monaghan. CULBERT families are known in Ireland since the 15th Century, especially in the province of Munster.
In Scotland, CULBERT is associated with County Fife. It is a variant of COLBERT, and of the Old English CEOLBEORHT. [ref. Dr. George F. Black, 1946, Surnames of Scotland: Their Origin, Meaning and History, New York Public Library, 12th printing (1999), p. 190.] The oldest record I have found to date about a CULBERT is that of Elenor CULBERT; m. 8 May 1699, Walter PRICE, St. Andrew, Dublin, Ireland. [ref. D.A. Chart, Marriage Entries from the Registers of the Parishes of St. Andrew, St. Anne, St. Audoen, and St. Bride (Dublin), 1632-1800, William Pollard & Co. Ltd., Exeter and London, 1913, 185 pp.]
The name CUTHBERT, and the related name CUDBIRD, are variously described as being derived from the Old English name CUOBEORT, [ref. P.H. Reaney, 1976, A Dictionary of British Surnames, 2nd Edition, revised, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., London; ISBN: 0-7100-8106-5.] or from an old Anglo-Saxon personal name, meaning "famous - bright" [ref. Reaney, op. cit.] or "bright champion." [Black, op. cit., p. 195.] The three surname prefixes "Cud-" "Cut-" and "Cuth-" all mean famous in the Old English. [ref. Rev. Henry Barber, British Family Names: Their Origin and Meaning, 1968, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland.] Related Anglo-Saxon names are CUTHBEORHT and CUTHBRYT meaning "noted brightness," and GUOBEORHT meaning "war bright." [ref. Barber, op. cit.] These names were common after the Conquest in the north of Britain and in the Scottish lowlands. [ref. Reaney, op. cit.] CUTHBERT became popular in the Lothians of Scotland and the north of England because of Saint CUTHBERT of Lindisfarne, who lived in the seventh century. [ref. Black, op. cit.] Many persons were also given the forename Cuthbert in his honor.
I am interested in receiving additional information on these surnames, particularly if they have connections to Scotland and Ireland where the oldest records are found.