Recorded as Colbert, Colbaird, Culbard, Culbaird, Culbert, and possibly others, this is a very interesting and quite rare surname. It is said to be Scottish from the county of Fife, but research suggests that it is ultimately and arguably English in origin. We had always assumed that the spelling as Colbert was French when in fact it is pre 7th century Olde English from the personal name "Ceol-beort" meaning cold-bright. It would seem that the French connection came about because in the 15th century, a Scot called Colbert took the name to France. Subsequently one of his descendants became a minister of the French government during the reign of King Louis X1V, and an even later one, a film star! The confusion seems to have arisen because Ceolbeort was a name probably used in the former "English" kingdom of Strathclyde in Scotland, some fifteen hundred or more years ago. For reasons not known Olde English was spoken in Strathclyde, not Gaelic. Early examples of the surname recording are those of William Culbaird of Kowford in Brechin, Scotland, in 1578, and in England that of Thomas Colbert at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, in 1616, and William Culbard at St Sepulchre church in the city of London, on May 22nd 1825.
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