The Colver/Culver Family in America
Much of the following information through the 4th generation is from Valerie Giorgi's 1985 book, Colver-Culver Family Genealogy.
The Colver family is readily traced in the English counties of Dorset, Hereford, Oxford, Suffolk, Leicester, and Middlesex as well as in various parts of Ireland, and was, for the most part, of the landed gentry and yeomanry of Great Britain. The name is found in various forms of spelling, such as Colver, Collver, Coluer, Culver, Cullicer, Colvers, Colvar, Colvir, Colvur, Culvir, Calver, Kolver, etc., the variations arising principally from the poor spelling during the Middle Ages and the mood ofthe scribe who wrote the document, who would often spell the same word in two or perhaps more ways in the same record. Among the earliest records of the family in England were those of William Culvere of Herefordshire in the year 1273 and of John and William Culvard or Culverd of Oxfordshire at slightly later dates. One William Culver ofHerefordshire is mentioned in the Hundred Rolls of the reign of King Edward I, circa 1275. Several excellent authorities state that the Colver family originated in Saxony, the spelling of the name there being Kolver, and that the descendants in England and later in America were of Saxon ancestry. The history of the early Colvers in England gives evidence of their Saxon origin.
In America the various branches have invariably used one or the other of the two forms Colver and Culver, both of which are found in the old records applying to the same person.
The name seems to have been derived from the word culver, meaning a pigeon or dove. The name Culverhouse is found in some parts of England and evidently means dovecote, probably from the fact that the person with whom the name originated kept a number of pigeons or doves.
Indications are that Edward Colver, the Puritan emigrant, came from one of the southern counties of England in the vicinity of London. John Winthrop, in whose company Edward Colver came to America, recruited his band of colonists from the counties of Middlesex, Kent, and Essex; and as the name Colver or Culver is found in the Middlesex records, especially in some parishes of London, it is more than probable Edward Colver was a native of those parts.
The Puritans of Massachusetts and Connecticut, urged by a keen desire to better their condition and stimulated by the love of adventure under the leadership of John Winthrop and others, came to America and organized the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Puritans came to the shores of New England in many companies and on various dates from 1630 to 1640. Winthrop had some twelve ships in his main expedition, which reached the vicinity of what is now Salem, Massachusetts, on 1 April 1630, with nearly eight hundred persons aboard after a voyage of seventy-six days.
On 30 July 1630, the Winthrop colonists removed to Charlestown, and on 17 September 1630, they settled what is now Boston, Massachusetts. The Puritan ideas represented a national liberty and a severe, but simple Protestantism.The first General Court met at Boston in May 1631. The name of Edward Colver is found on the original covenant entered into by members of the colony at Boston for the settlement of Contentment, which was renamed Dedham, Massachusetts, 8 Sept. 1636, one of the earliest records of Puritan affairs.
The name Dedham was taken from Dedham, Essex County, England. Dedham, Massachusetts is about ten miles southwest of Boston on the Charles River. It was at Dedham that the first white man was shot by an Indian in 1671. This event started King Philip's War in 1675.
Edward Colver sailed from the port of London in 1635 in one of the ships that carried John Winthrop's company of emigrants to America, but so far research has failed to reveal his parentage. One version put forth is that Edward Colver of New England was the grandson of Rev. Edward Colver, born ca 1550, whom Queen Elizabeth presented to the Rectory of Hard monds worth, County Middlesex, England, 2 September 1575, and who died 28 March 1594. In 1881, JamesP. Snell published a History of Sussex and Warren Counties, New Jersey, which gives another version of the origins of the Culvers in England, as follows: "John Culver, born ca 1575-80 in England, had three sons; (1) John remained in England, inherited the estate; (2) Edward came to this country in 1635; (3) Joseph went to Ireland and remained, starting a new line."