Variations of Name
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Variations of the Culpepper Name

There have been three major variations in the spelling of Culpepper.

1. Colepeper

The earliest form of the Culpepper name appears to have been Colepeper, and the first known Colepeper was Sir Thomas, born about 1170 A.D. Nearly every Caucasian Culpepper in our family tree is believed to be his descendant.

The origin of Colepeper is discussed in depth at Origin of the Culpepper Name.

From the 12th through the 16th centuries, the most common form was Colepeper. It also sometimes appeared as Colepepyr. Then during the 17th and 18th centuries, the Colepeper name slowly evolved to Culpeper.

A review of old deeds, wills and other legal documents reveals a number of Colepepers and Culpepers in the 17th and 18th centuries who couldn't seem to make up their minds which of these two spellings to use.

The Colepeper form is still in use today in South Africa. Interestingly, some, if not all, of the current-day South African Colepepers are descended from the Culpepers of Barbados who emigrated from Barbados to South Africa in the late 19th century. The South African branch reverted back to the early English Colepeper spelling after leaving Barbados.

2. Culpeper

Those immigrating to the American colonies in the 17th century used primarily the 2-p "Culpeper", and this appears to be the form that continued to be used by those families that emigrated first to Barbados in the 1600's and then left that island for other parts of the British Commonwealth and the US in the 1800's.   This is also the spelling of the town and county in Virginia, although no Culpeppers, Culpepers, or Colepepers have ever lived there for more than a few years. Probably only 1% to 2% of the Culpeppers in the world use the 2-p variation today.

  • There are branches of Culpepers (2-p) in Puerto Rico and Canada.

  • There are a scattering of Culpepers in the US, the majority of whom are in California. A few are in South Carolina.

  • A well known individual who reverted back to the 2-p version in this century was Charles E. Culpeper, the Coca Cola millionaire and philanthropist. All the rest of his family members were 3-p Culpeppers, and he had no descendants.

3. Culpepper

By the 19th century, the vast majority of American Culpeppers had adopted the 3-p spelling and nearly 99% of them use this form today. The 3-p spelling is now so ubiquitous that many mistakenly use it in spelling the Virginia town and county as well as for old names and places in England.

Conventions Used within our Family Tree

To simplify searches for names, while trying to retain some historical consistency, we have adopted the following conventions within our family tree.

  • Early Culpeppers. For those who were apparently born in England or Barbados, we used the 2-p Culpeper spelling.

  • American Culpeppers. We have adopted the modern day 3-p Culpepper spelling for all names of those believed to have been born in the US, unless we have been explicitly told that a particular family uses the 2-p spelling.

  • South African Colepepers. The South African branch, which emigrated from Barbados around 1900, adopted the Colepeper spelling.

  • Emigrants. There are a few inconsistencies in the above rules related to those who may have been born in England or Barbados but who emigrated, or may have emigrated, to America or Canada.

Searching for the name

When using a web search engine to find references to the Culpepper name and its variants, the name fragment to use that will catch the most variations is: "Culpe". It is quite rare that a search on Culpe will turn up anything other than Culpepper or one of its variants. To find the remainder, a search on "Colep" will find nearly all the rest. If the search engine supports a compound search, then try using "Culpe or Colep or Cullp or Colpe or Culpo". This will catch 99.999% of the variations without producing many false hits. A so-called phonetic search, however, will produce many false hits and will fail to find any occurences of "Cullpepper" or "Curlpepper".

Social Security Death Index (SSDI) Spelling Variations

Through the end of September 2003, the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) contained the names of 71,444,533 deceased people, including 3,226 Culpeppers/Culpepers. Thus, Culpeppers appear to comprise 1 out of every 22,100 people in the US.

The 3,226 Culpeppers included 43 (or 1.3%) spelled Culpeper. There were another 33 people with variations on the name that appear to be the result of error at the Social Security Administration.  These erroneous versions appeared as Cullpepper, Culpeeper, Culpep, Culpepeper, Culpeppe and Culppers, and none are believed to be the actual spelling used by the deceased.


In doing genealogical research, it is useful to understand some of the other ways that a name may appear in historical records, generally as a result of ignorance or mistakes. In the lists blow, the bold variations are the common ones. Some of the variations (listed alphabetically) that have been found include:

  • Variations on the first syllable:

    • Cal, Call,

    • Col, Cole, Coll,

    • Cul, Cull, Curl,

    • Kul, Kull, Kurl

  • Variations on the last two syllables:

    • paper, papper

    • peeper,

    • pep, pepeper, peper, pepernew, peppe, pepper, pepyr

    • piper

    • popper

    • ppeper, ppepper, pper

  • Further variations

    • Sometimes, one or more of the p's will appear as a t

Last Revised: 02 Jan 2015

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