Coulthard - What's in a name?

The website is dedicated to the distribution and preservation of the Coulthart family history throughout the world. It includes information about all Coulthart families no matter how the surname is spelled, e.g. Coulthard, Coulthard, Colthart, Coltart, etc. At the website you can browse through many different web pages, and review back copies of the "Clan Coulthart", a quarterly newsletter about the Coulthart family.

This is not perhaps, a border family in the accepted sense but long associated with the border county of Cumberland through their real headquarters seems to have been at a place called Coulthard in Co. Wigtown, across the border in Scotland. This family possesses a most elaborate pedigree dating back to a suppositious Coulthardus, a Roman lieutenant who fought under Agricols and who gave his name to the lands which afterwards in turn gave it back to the family as its surname. Needless to say this document cannot be accepted as authentic but the family is of great antiquity.

In the 13th and 14th centuries they were written De Coulthard and the place in Scotland may have been named from a somewhat similar place name in Normandy. There is a family seal dated 1443 depicting a Colt and a Hart. While we cannot grant them anything like the antiquity they claim, they are indeed, a respectable race, long associated with one fair spot and bearing a name which gives an appearance of an aristocratic "territorial" origin but, to go from the sublime to the ridiculous, while not denying antiquity and respectability, surname etymologists today say that Coulthard is really Cold-herd and to be classed with Coward (which is Cow-herd) Gossard (Goose-herd) and similar names. So the first of the name, however quick his rise may have been (and the family certainly did rise quickly) must have earned a living minding colts! I do not know how this is reconciled with the place name the prefix "De" which was acquired, or assumed long ago.

(source unknown)

According to Tradition and a most elaborate Pedigree the Coultharts of Coulthart, Co. Wigtown, are descended from Coulthartus, a Roman Lieut. who fought under Julius Agricola, and who gave his name to certain lands near Whithorn, which in much later times was erected into a barony, and returned to the family its generic appellation when surnames became common. The genealogy in question associates the heads of the family with many great national events in connection with the Romans, Picts, Scots, Danes, Irish, Normans, etc. and may pass "Quantuum valeat." It is sufficient to observe that few families in Britain can claim a more respectable origin than the Coultharts of Coulthart and Collyn, as attested by documentary evidence. There can be no doubt of the name having originated from the place, as it is written, in the 13th and 14th centuries with the territorial prefix DE. The name of the Scottish locality is probably synonymous with that of Coudhard, a village in the Department of Orne, a few miles N.E. of Argentan in Normandy. It is deserving of mention that the head of this family (in whom now centres the blood of Coulthart "of that ilk," Ross of Renfrew, Macknyghte, Glendonyn of Glendonyn, Carmichael of Carspherne, Forbes of Pitscottie, Mackenzie of Craighall, and Gordon of Sorbie) has immemorially borne supporters to his coat-armour, allusive to the name, and perhaps this may be considered a unique instance of "canting supporters." A COLT and Hart uphold the ancestral ascocheon and a seal appended to a charter of Sir Roger de Coulthart dated 1443. The surrounding legend is "Sigillum Coultharti."

The name is variously spelt Coulthart, Coulthard, Coldhart, Coulhard, Coldard, etc.

I give my thanks to Terry Meinke for the following description of the source of the above.

"A Genealogical and Heraldic Account of the Coultharts of Coulthart and Collyn Chiefs of the Name from Their First Settlement in Scotland, in the Reign of Conarus to the Year of our Lord 1854" by George Parker Knowles. (The Roman Julius Agricola dates to 79 AD so this genealogy goes from 79 AD to 1854!!)

This genealogy was written for John Ross Coulthart, Esq. of Croft House, Aston-Under Lyne, Co. Lancaster in 1854. I believe only 75 copies were published. (The copy I found was on microfilm at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City). John Ross Coulthart was born in southwestern Scotland and became a very wealthy banker who lived in the Manchester/Liverpool area. He hired George Parker Knowles to research the familyCoulthard coat of arms based on a bunch of old documents he claimed were passed down in the family. None of these documents exist any longer or maybe they never existed. When John Ross Coulthart retired he returned to Southwestern Scotland and built a mansion. Although it burned down a few years ago you can still see it on the road between Castle Douglas and Ayr. I drove by it when I was in Scotland and the place was immense. John Ross Coulthart also applied for a coat of arms which he was granted. It's really neat. Consists of three colts two on the top and one on the bottom. I saw a carved wooden version in the museum in Kirkcudbright and a stone version was placed on John Ross's fathers grave in Kirkpatrick Fleming, Scotland...

This entire genealogy is considered pure fiction and I read something while I was in Scotland that called it the purest example of what not to do in genealogical research. "Those of the name Coulthart have suffered ridicule as a result of the "Notorious pedigree of Coulthard" published in the last century, which ascribed their origins to "Coulthartus"". This is quoted from Alfred Coulthard's book. (Alfred Coulthard is considered the expert in the British Isles on the Coulthard name. He has written a book, which was updated in 1994).

Return to John and Eleanor Coulthard's home page.

Updated: March 21, 2004