The Pulvertaft Papers

A Newsletter about the Pulvertafts and Pulvertofts

 ISSN 0261-118X   As originally researched and compiled by Rear Admiral D.M.Pulvertaft

Robert Pulvertaft writes:

My understanding, through verbal tradition, is that the name was originally Viking. This fits with the original geographic location of the family in East Anglia. The family name went to Ireland as part of Cromwell's army and stayed there until the early twentieth century.

My late grandfather, Professor Robert James Valentine Pulvertaft OBE, wrote:

“Your letter has been forwarded to me as the current doyen of the Pulvertaft clan. It appears that Pulvertaft hunting is a national, even international sport, as few years go by without some enthusiast discovering, with delight, that like the coelacanth we are not extinct.

I think the reason is that it is one of the very few Norman Conquest surnames still in use. The family lived from time immemorial in East Anglia, Boston has a Pulvertoft Lane and Lincolnshire has a Pulvertoft Place, no longer in the family.

Here follows information handed down verbally. In the “Visitations” countless Pulvertofts appear. There are two grants of arms to members of the family. A number of the periodical “The Antiquarian” some 50 years ago was devoted to the family records. I do not bear arms whether qualified or not.

The recent family history begins with Cromwell who hung a Pulvertoft for burning a church; he was a Leveller. Cromwell established a battalion of Levellers among them at least one Pulvertoft who was sent to Ulster and fought at the Battle of the Boyne.

During a post-Cromwell settlement, a piece of land known now as Castle Hackett in Co Cork was granted to my ancestor, who lost it at cards to a Hackett. I examined at medical finals with the contemporary Hackett (now in Australia). He would not give me back my land!

Pulvertafts are extinct in Ireland. They thrive in the USA where I was received with acclamation by a Cork policeman. I had missed a plane, but he held it back, saying “Never let it be said that a Pulvertaft had to stay in New York a minute longer than he wanted.”

A Rev Thomas Pulvertaft appears in Trinity Dublin records (I think 1750) and another, my father, also Rev Thomas Pulvertaft about 1890.”

Another Explanation (Volume 4 No. 5):

“The Irish surname Pulvertaft or Pulvertoft is ultimately of English origin, having been brought to Ireland during the Anglo Norman invasion of 1172, becoming more common in Ireland than in England. The name is of toponymic origin, denoting “one who came from Pulvertaft or Pulvertoft”, the name of a place in Lancashire which is today extinct. The toponym Pulvertaft is derived from Pulver, the name of a stream, also preserved in the toponym Pulverbatch, Shropshire, derived from the Old Norse “puldra” meaning “to gush”. The suffix of the name “taft or toft” is derived from the Old Norse “topt” meaning “homestead” and is a common element in Norse and northern English place names, where the Scandinavian influence is felt the most.

The earliest records of this surname mention Robert and John Pulvertaft who were married in Cork in 1753 and 1765 respectively. All modern bearers of this surname, which is also found in America, Australia, South Africa and Denmark, as well as Ireland and England, seem to be descended from one Thomas Pulvertaft, whose marriage was registered in apx. 1840.”

BLAZON OF ARMS: Argent, a mullet between eight fleur-de-lis gules.

CREST: A fleur-de-lis of the arms.