Colbert Family Resource Page


Compiled By: James H. Culbert
Last Updated: 4 Jan 2008

Surname Origins

The COLBERT surname is English, sometimes Scottish, and in post medieval times, French.  It derives from the Old English pre-7th century personal name "Coel-beort" translating as "cool-bright".  It is first recorded as COLBEORHT in the 1086 Domesday Book of England, and found in the counties of Devonshire, Cheshire, and Lincolnshire.  Other spellings of the surname include: COLEBERT; COLEBERTE; COLBERD; COLEBURT; COLBURT; and in Scotland: CULBARD; COLBARD; and COLBAIRD. 1

COLBERT is also suggested to be Huguenot (French Protestant).  Beginning in the late 1500s, the Huguenots left France in great numbers for other parts of Europe and the British Isles.  However, COLBERT is found in south Ireland in the 1400s, before the Huguenot exodus from France.  Thus, it appears that these COLBERT families came to Ireland from England, France, and Scotland at various times.

The surname COLBERT is perhaps best known from France's Jean Baptiste COLBERT (1619-1683), who became the Minister of Finance under King Louis XIV.  He claimed to be descended from a noble Scottish family.  It is supposed that his ancestor would have gone to France with Scottish soldiers under Lord Buchan and Lord Douglas, who assisted France's King Charles VII in opposing the English about 1400 A.D. 2

These COLBERT people came to Ireland from England, and this surname appeared as early as 1417 when Thomas COLBERT was involved in a trespass case at Tipperary.  Griffith's Valuation found them very numerous in County Waterford in 1850, with more than 55 householders recorded.  More recently, Cornelius COLBERT was one of the signatories of the Irish declaration of the Irish Republic, who was later executed by the British after the 1916 rising. 3

Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation.  In England, the Poll Tax was probably the first example of this.  The first recorded spelling of the COLBERT family name was that of John Colbert, dated 1205, found in the Pipe Rolls of Devonshire during the reign of King John (a.k.a. "Lackland").  Other early examples of these names from surving church records include the christenings of Thomas COLBERT, on 23 Oct 1616 at St. Dunstan's in the East, Stepney, and of Elizabeth COLEBERTE on 25 Jun 1620, also at St. Dunstan's.  A coat of arms was granted in 1723 to Count de Colbert, of France, which has the blazon of a gold shield charged with a black snake, in pale. 1

Surname Resources

The traditional harp of Ireland provided by Lindel Buckley  COLBERT Family Records in Ireland

The historical flag of ScotlandCOLBERT Family Records in Scotland



The COLBERT One Name Study Website may be found: Click Here

Culbert & Related Surnames Home Page

Jim Culbert's Home Page

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