Cuthbert Family Resource Page


Compiled By: James H. Culbert
Last Updated: 24 Apr 2014

Surname Origins

The name CUTHBERT, and the related name CUDBIRD, are variously described as being derived from the Old English name "Cuobeort," dbs or from an old Anglo-Saxon personal name, "Cuthbeorht," meaning "famous - bright" dbs, or "bright champion." 1  The three surname prefixes "Cud-" "Cut-" and "Cuth-" all mean famous in the Old English. bfn  Related Anglo-Saxon names are "Cuthbeorht" and "Cuthbryt" meaning "noted brightness," and "Guobeorht" meaning "war bright." bfn  These names were common after the Conquest in the north of Britain and in the Scottish lowlands. dbs

The CUTHBERT surname became popular in the Lothians of Scotland and the north of England because of Saint CUTHBERT of Lindisfarne, who lived in the seventh century. 1  Many persons were also given the forename "Cuthbert" in his honor.

Originating within the current borders of present-day Scotland, young CUTHBERT was of Saxon ancestry, but became a monk at old Melros Abbey, a Celtic monastery.  He spent some time in his earlier years as a missionary-evangelist among the Picts of the Highland region of Glen Lyon and the River Tay.  He later moved south to the isle of Lindisfarne, just off the current Scottish-English border, where he was supposedly accustomed to saying his prayers standing naked up to his neck in the cold waters of the North Sea.  According to one legend, sea otters would come along after his devotions to help him get warm again.  CUTHBERT was a major figure in the evangelization of the region, and became its patron saint.  He later served as bishop of the area in the days following the famous Synod of Whitby in 664 A.D.  During the Viking era, his body was moved from the coastal island of Lindisfarne to Durham cathedral, where it was interred behind the high altar, and where it still rests.  Saint Cuthbert's Day is March 20, and the following prayer is used at Durham on that day: mc

"Almighty God, who didst call thy servant Cuthbert from keeping sheep to follow thy Son, and to be a shepherd of thy people, mercifully grant that we, following his example and caring for those who are lost, may bring them home to thy fold, through thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen." mc

The town of Kirkcudbright was named after Saint CUTHBERT, and a church in Dryfesdale, dedicated to the Saint, was granted to Jocelin, bishop of Glasgow, in 1174. 1

For more information on Saint CUTHBERT see: St. Cuthbert

Over the north of England and the southern counties of Scotland the common pronunciation of the Saint's name is CUDBERT, from which come the related surnames CUDDIE and CUDDY 1  Another Gaelic influence on the surname comes from a earlier variant, MACCUITHBERT, which means "son of the Arch Druid."  The ancient Druids were associated with wisdom.

A CUTHBERT acquired Castle Hill, in Inverness, in the Scottish Highlands, by marriage in 1371.  It is said that they descend from the most ancient families of Scotland, and we know that the hereditary governors of the Castle were Gaelic chiefs who claimed descent from the ancient Dalriadic royal family originally from Ireland.  Over time they assumed a prominent role in the affairs of that town.  The CUTHBERT families had manuscripts that showed the surnames MCCULBERT and MACCUTHBERT in their descendants.  In addition, the CUTHBERTs of Castlehill were called "Mac Sheorais" in the Gaelic. 2

Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation.  In England, the Poll Tax was probably the first example of this.  The CUTHBERT surname is now widespread in the North of England and in Scotland.  Other variations of the name include CUDBERT, CURBETT, and CUTBIRTH.

A Coat of Arms granted to the CUTHBERT family is a gold shield, with a red fesse, in chief a blue serpent, the Crest being a hand in a gauntlet holding a dart proper.  The Motto "Nec minus fortiter" translates as "Not less bravely." nor  The serpent is a common feature on the Arms of various CUTHBERT and related families, and is associated with wisdom.

Some of the earliest CUTHBERT records include:

Willelmus filius CUTHBERTI, who was a witness of land gifted to the Abbey of Newbattle. 12

CUTBERT is found in the Domesday Book of 1066, and is related to the name GOTOBED. bfn

Austinus filius CUDBERTII, 1202, of Yorkshire, Britain. prrc as referenced in: dbs, p. 92.

Lawrencius filius CUTBERTI, 1207, of Huntingdonshire, Britain. ff as referenced in: dbs, p. 92.

William CUTBRIGHT or William CUDBRIHT, 1260 and 1276, of Cambridgeshire, Britain. ar as referenced in: dbs, p. 92.

John CUTBERT, 1279, of Huntingdonshire, Britain.  In: Rotuli Hundredorum, 2 vols., 1812-18, London as referenced in: dbs, p. 92.

Robert CUDBERT, 1301, of Yorkshire, Britain.  In: Subsidy Rolls (unpublished) as referenced in: dbs, p. 92.

John CUTBERD, 1327, of Cambridgeshire, Britain.  In: Subsidy Rolls (unpublished) as referenced in: dbs, p. 92.

Richard CUTHBERT, of Castle Hill, went to France about 1400, and it is believed he was the ancestor of the famous COLBERT family of France.

James CUTHBERTI, 1453, held land in Forfar, Scotland. 13

Thomas CUTHBERT, who was Burgess of Inverness, in 1455, entered into an obligation to William, Earl of Errol. 7

Paton CUDBERT and Thom CUDBERT, 1466, were tenants in the Grange of Kerso, Scotland. 3

William CUTHBERT, 1469, of Yorkshire, Britain. rfcy as referenced in: dbs, p. 92.

John CUTHBERT, 1510, was an alderman of Inverness 1

Maister CUTHBERD WELSHE, 1543, was witness to the laird of Pitfouris band. 4

Andrew CUTBERT, 1545, held a yard and land in Perth, Scotland. 8

John CUDBERT, in 1560, was charged with "casual murder" in Brechin, Scotland. 11

James CUTHBERT, in 1566, was a charter witness in Brechin. nor

A marriage contract was recorded in 1560 between George CUDBERT or George CUDBERTH and Jonet BALYE. 5

James CUTHBERT was a charter witness in 1566 in Brechin, Scotland. 6

Charles Colbert de Croissy (1625-96), whose brother was the Marquis of Seignelay, was granted a warrant in 1686 by the Scottish Parliament for a bore-brieve, as a descendant of the CUTHBERTs of Castlehill, and as a connection of all the older families of Scotland. 9 10

Surname Resources

The traditional harp of Ireland provided by Lindel BuckleyCUTHBERT FAMILY RECORDS IN IRELAND

The historical flag of ScotlandCUTHBERT Family Records of Scotland

  CUTHBERTs and Related Surnames As Ships Passengers

  CUTHBERT Passenger Arrivals at New York City, 1820-1855

  CUTHBERT Passenger Arrivals at Castle Garden, 1855-1890

  CUTHBERT Passenger Arrivals Indexed at the National Archives


1 Dr. George F. Black, 1946, Surnames of Scotland: Their Origin, Meaning and History, New York Public Library, 12th printing (1999), p. 195, ISBN 0-87104-172-3.

2 Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, 1872-1939, Inverness, Scotland, vol. 21, p. 10.  Found in: Black, 1946, Surnames of Scotland. 1

3 Rev. Charles Rogers, Editor, Rental Book of Cupar-Angus, 1879-80, London, England, vol. 1, p. 154, [2 vols.].  Found in: Black, 1946, Surnames of Scotland. 1

4 Miscellany of the Spalding Club, 1841-52, Aberdeen, Scotland, vol. 2, p. 271, [5 vols.].  Found in: Black, 1946, Surnames of Scotland. 1

5 Carta Monialium de Northberwic, 1847, Edinburgh, Scotland, p. 77.  Found in: Black, 1946, Surnames of Scotland. 1

6 Registrum Episcopatus Brechinensis, 1856, Edinburgh, Scotland, vol. 2, p. 212, [2 vols.].  Found in: Black, 1946, Surnames of Scotland. 1

7 Miscellany of the Spalding Club, 1841-52, Aberdeen, Scotland, vol. 2, p. 211, [5 vols.].  Found in: Black, 1946, Surnames of Scotland. 1

8 Protocol Book of Sir Robert Rollok: 1534-1552, 1931, Edinburgh, Scotland, p. 4.  Found in: Black, 1946, Surnames of Scotland. 1

9 The Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland: 1124-1707, 1814-1875, London, England, vol. 8, pp. 611-613, [12 vols. in 13, with vol. 12 an index and vol. 6 in 2 parts].  [Note: The pedigree of several generations is given here.]  Found in: Black, 1946, Surnames of Scotland. 1

10 Miscellany of the Spalding Club, 1841-52, Aberdeen, Scotland, vol. 5, pref. p. 30, [5 vols.].  Found in: Black, 1946, Surnames of Scotland. 1

11 The Presbyterie Book of Kirkcaldie: 1630-53, 1900, Kirkcaldy, Scotland, p. 348.  Found in: Black, 1946, Surnames of Scotland. 1

12 Registrum S. Marie de Neubotle, 1849, Edinburgh, Scotland, p. 235.  Found in: Black, 1946, Surnames of Scotland. 1

13 Registrorum abbacie de Aberbrothoc, 1848-56, Edinburgh, Scotland, v.II, p. 101 [2 v.: v.I Pars prior, Registrum vetus munimentaque..., 1178-1329; v.II Pars alters, Registrum nigrum..., 1329-56].  Found in: Black, 1946, Surnames of Scotland. 1

ar Assize Rolls: 1260 - W.M. Palmer, 1930, The Assizes at Cambridge AD 1260, Linton; Cambridge Antiquity Society 55, 1942; 1276 - Rotuli Hundredorum, 2 vols., 1812-18, London; both referenced in: dbs, p. 92.

bfn Rev. Henry Barber, British Family Names: Their Origin and Meaning, 1968, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland.

dbs P.H. Reaney, 1976, A Dictionary of British Surnames, 2nd Edition, revised, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., London;  ISBN: 0-7100-8106-5.

ff Feet of Fines: Cambridge Antiquity Society 37, 1913; As referenced in: dbs, p. 92.

mc Michael Cuthbertson  [Email: mjc at]  Last Contact: Aug 2003.

nor The foregoing is provided by Name Orgin Research at their website.

prrc Pipe Rolls: Royal Commission, 3 vols. London, 1833-44, Pipe Roll Society; The Great Roll of the Pipe for the 26th year of Henry the Third, H.L. Cannon, Ed., Yale Historical Publication, 1918; As referenced in: dbs, p. 92.

rfcy Register of Freemen of the City of York, 1897-9, Surtees Society 96, 102; As referenced in: dbs, p. 92.


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