K is for Kin
I began studying my ancestors as a teen, starting with my mom’s family. My mom was a Culpepper. There are a lot of Culpeppers out there with records dating back to English Lords, Sirs, Sheriffs, and Justices of the Peace, so they are not hard to trace. With the invention of the internet, it became easier and easier.
The Culpepper name, originally Colepeper, is believed to hail from Sir Thomas de Colepeper, born 1170 in Kent, England. ‘De’ meaning of or from; ‘Cul’ meaning bottom (in French); and the family was from Pembury, originally known as Pepenbury, so the full translation is ‘of the bottom of Pepenbury.’ Makes sense. Eventually the ‘de’ was dropped as it fell out of fashion.
Back in the 1990s, I traced back to my favorite Culpepper ancestor. I don’t know why he’s my favorite; he just intrigues me. His name was John Culpepper. He was my 12th great grandfather. He was born in 1530 in Salehurst, Sussex, England and died 20 Oct 1612. He owned Wigsell Manor (pictured below) which he inherited from his father William Culpepper. His mother was Cicely Barrett, and much later in my research I found the Barretts, who married into the Bellhouse and Poyntz families, to be just as interesting as the Culpeppers. They were big in politics and owned enormous estates, making Wigsell look like a little cottage. It’s quite possible Cicely married beneath her. Perhaps she married for love. ♥
There are no records of John’s education. He seems to have lived a quiet life. He married Elizabeth Sedley around 1560 and records show they had about seven children. Records for female children are far and few between, but he did have a daughter named Cicely, named after his mother. He was a Justice of the Peace, and the only public records of him are testimonies in Queen Elizabeth’s Privy Council from 1558 to 1592. Following the chaos of King Henry VIII’s rule, bloody Queen Mary’s rule, and finally Queen Elizabeth’s, the country was in political and religious turmoil. That may be why he lived such a quiet life. If you didn’t, you would surely be beheaded or burned at the stake for something.
He died at the age of 82, considerable for the time, and is buried at Salehurst Church as “Johanes Colepeper, armiger, etatis 82.” The word ‘armiger’ means ‘entitled to the coat of arms.’ The Culpepper Coat of Arms graces the church wall near the front door. (I also have it tattooed on my back.) RIP grandpa Johanes.
Update: By special request, here’s my tat.
The bottom is French and means, “I hope.”