Colter History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Dalriadan kingdom of ancient Scotland was the home of the ancestors of the Colter family. Their name indicates that they lived in or near Coulter in Lanarkshire or Aberdeenshire, in Scotland. The surname Colter is derived from the Gaelic phrase, cúl tir, which means, black land. Colter is therefore a local surname, of which there are many types. For instance, topographic surnames could be given to a person who lived beside any physical feature, such as a hill, stream, church or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties. In this case, the surname is both topographical, in that it comes from the phrase, black land, and local in the general sense, since it comes from the place-name, Coulter.

Early Origins of the Colter family

The surname Colter was first found in Lanarkshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Lannraig) a former county in the central Strathclyde region of Scotland, now divided into the Council Areas of North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, and the City of Glasgow, where they held a family seat from very early times.

Early History of the Colter family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Colter research. Another 100 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1226 and 1281 are included under the topic Early Colter History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Colter Spelling Variations

Translation in medieval times was an undeveloped science and was often carried out without due care. For this reason, many early Scottish names appeared radically altered when written in English. The spelling variations of Colter include Coulter, Colter, Coalter, Coultere, Coultar, Coultur, Coltar, Coltur, Coltir, Coltire and many more.

Early Notables of the Colter family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Colter Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Colter family to Ireland

Some of the Colter family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 75 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Colter migration to the United States +

The descendants of the Dalriadan families who made the great crossing of the Atlantic still dot communities along the east coast of the United States and Canada. In the American War of Independence, many of the settlers traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Clan societies and highland games have allowed Canadian and American families of Scottish descent to recover much of their lost heritage. Investigation of the origins of family names on the North American continent has revealed that early immigrants bearing the name Colter or a variant listed above include:

Colter Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James Colter, who arrived in New England in 1722 [1]
Colter Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Oliver Colter, who landed in New York in 1831 [1]
  • Francis Colter, who landed in Mississippi in 1840 [1]
  • Timothy Colter, who landed in Tippecanoe County, Ind in 1844 [1]
  • John Colter, who landed in Tippecanoe County, Ind in 1844 [1]
  • S Colter, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Colter migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Colter Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • John Colter, aged 26, a farmer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the barque "Independence" from Kinsale, Ireland
  • Mrs. Margaret Colter, aged 56 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Avon" departing 19th May 1847 from Cork, Ireland; the ship arrived on 26th July 1847 but she died on board [2]
  • Mr. Richard Colter, aged 60 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Avon" departing 19th May 1847 from Cork, Ireland; the ship arrived on 26th July 1847 but he died on board [2]

New Zealand Colter migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Colter Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • J. Colter, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ulcoats" in 1864
  • Mr. Patrick Colter, (b. 1864), aged 19, British settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Nelson" arriving in Invercargill, Southland, South Island, New Zealand on 20th October 1883 [3]
  • Miss Ellen Colter, (b. 1866), aged 17, British settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Nelson" arriving in Invercargill, Southland, South Island, New Zealand on 20th October 1883 [3]

Contemporary Notables of the name Colter (post 1700) +

  • John Colter (1774-1812), American member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
  • Steve Colter (b. 1962), retired American professional basketball player
  • Mike Randal Colter (b. 1976), American actor
  • Jessi Colter (b. 1943), American country music artist
  • Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter (1869-1958), American architect and designer
  • Thomas Henry Colter (b. 1850), Canadian farmer and politician in New Brunswick
  • Charles Wesley Colter (1846-1929), Canadian lawyer, publisher and politician in Ontario
  • Newton Ramsay Colter (1844-1917), Canadian physician and politician in New Brunswick
  • George Johnson Colter (1840-1915), Canadian farmer and politician in New Brunswick
  • Randall Colter Bean (b. 1977), former Major League Baseball relief pitcher


  1. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  2. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 69)
  3. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html


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