This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from some minor, unrecorded or now "lost" place, believed to have been situated in either Yorkshire or Lancashire, because of the large number of early recordings in that region. An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets are known to have disappeared since the 12th Century, due to such natural causes as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished, and to the widespread practice of enforced "clearing" and enclosure of rural lands for sheep pastures from the 15th Century onwards. The placename derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "colt", ass, young horse, with "hyrst", wooded hill; hence "wooded hill frequented by young horses". Colthurst in the West Riding of Yorkshire takes its name from a family so called, rather than vice versa, as was more usual. Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the marriage of John Colthurst and Agnes Hydde on June 29th 1573, at Gargrave, Yorkshire; the christening of Johes, son of Egidii Colthurst, on November 20th 1579 at Clitheroe, Lancashire; and the christening of Henry, son of James Colthurst, on January 15th 1587 at Halifax, Yorkshire. It is interesting to note that the family have also distinguished themselves in Ireland, where three Coats of Arms have been granted to members of the family. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Giles Coulthurst, which was dated December 29th 1538, witness at a christening, at Whalley, Lancashire, during the reign of Queen Mary, known as "Bloody Mary", 1553 - 1558. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.