Galbraiths of Donegal

(Variations of spelling: Calbreath, Colbath, Colbreath, Galberth, Galbreath, Galbreth, Gilbraith, Gilbreath, Gilbreth, Gilreath, Kilbreath, Kilbreth, Kulbeth)

According to the Pennsylvania Genealogies: Chiefly Scots-Irish and German by William Henry Egle, MD, MA, the Galbraiths were from a remote part of Stirling, Scotland in the “Parish of Baldunoch.”

“A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 1” states that In Frazer’s statistical account of the inhabitants of the Isle of Gigha, the following occurs: “The majority of them are of the names of Galbraith and McNeill, the former reckoned the more ancient. The Galbraiths in the Gaelic language are called Breatannich, that is Britons, or the children of Briton, and were once reckoned a great name in Scotland according to the following lines translated from the Gaelic:

“Galbraiths from the Red Tower, Noblest of Scottish surnames.”

Culcreuch Castle

My Galbraith line starts with Martha, my 3rd great-grandmother, born about 1800. And, according to the Pennsylvania Vital Records, Vol. II and Lineage Book : NSDAR : Volume 164 : 1921, married John Stitt on 23 October 1817. According to the same DAR Lineage Book, her father was John Galbraith and her mother was Anne, last name unknown. They married about 1786.

John’s parents were James and Martha McClelland, as the lineage shows. The lineage book also states, “James Galbraith was county lieutenant with the rank of colonel, 1777, and also served as private in the Pennsylvania troops under Colonels Miles, Bull, and Butler. He was born in Cumberland County; died, 1802, in Pennsylvania.”

I have not been able to find anything more about John, but his father was James, born about 1743 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, according to the DAR lineage and the Sons of the American Revolution. He married Martha McCelland about the year 1760. He was a captain in William Peebles company in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania March, 1776.

In the Pennsylvania Genealogies: Chiefly Scotch-Irish and German by William Henry Egle, 1886, it states, James Galbraith ,5 (John ,4 Andrew ,3 James ,2 John ,1) born about 1741 ; died prior to 1790 ; was county lieutenant of Cumberland county in 1777 ; a soldier of the Pennsylvania Line in the Revolution; in 1783 , resided in “Washington borough , near Carlisle ;” married Martha McClellan , daughter of John McClellan ,* of Donegal .

Revolutionary War Battalions & Militia Index Cards. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

James’ father was John born about 1717. (notice the names alternating and staying in the family).

John married Jennet McCullough about 1742. Not much is known about this John either.

His father was Andrew born about 1692 and married to Mary Kyle.

Appletons’ Cyclopedia of American Biography; Volume: Vol. II

Andrew Galbraith,3 (James,2 John,1) was born about 1692 in the North of Ireland; came to America with his father, and settled along the run which has its source at Donegal meeting house, now Lancaster County, Pa., in the year 1718. Upon the organization of the county of Lancaster, he was appointed the first coroner, afterwards, in 1730, one of the justices of the Court of Common Pleas and Quarter Sessions, a position he held six years. In 1732, he and his neighbor, John Wright, were candidates for the General Assembly. At that time, none but freeholders were allowed to vote, and the only polling place was the town of Lancaster, where all voters were obliged to go. Mr. Galbraith took no active part in the canvass himself, but his wife mounted her favorite mare, Nelly, and rode out through the Scotch-Irish settlement, and persuaded them to go with her to the county town. She appeared at the court-house leading a procession of mounted men, whom she halted and addressed. The effect was that her husband was triumphantly elected. After his first election, he seems to have had no opposition. He took out a patent for two hundred and twelve and one half acres, May 2, 1737; and was one of the first ruling elders of the old Donegal church; appointed a justice of the peace in 1730, a position he held until 1747, when he removed west of the Susquehanna; he served several years in the Provincial Assembly, and was one of the most prominent of the pioneer settlers–a safe and trustworthy officer. After the year 1746, when he disposed of his farm, very little is recorded concerning him. (Pennsylvania Genealogies: Chiefly Scotch-Irish and German. William Henry Egle, 1886.)

Andrew’s father, James, is thought to have been born in Donegal, Ireland about 1666 and emigrated about 1718. He was one of the founders of the Old Derry Church. He was said to be a “man of prominence.” James married Rebecca Chambers about 1689.

Ca. 1880s lithograph: Old Derry Church – – Built A. D. 1720 – –
Repaired A. D. 1760 (Palmyra, PA, Dauphin County)

He died 23 Aug 1744 at age 78.

James’ father was John, wife unknown. He was born about 1646, born in Baldunoch, Stirling County, Scotland. It is thought that he died before the emigration of his sons, James and John.

From William Gilbreath of the Clan Galbraith Facebook group:

We do not know if James of 1666 was born in Ireland but he came from there in 1718. We don’t know that his father was John and we have failed to link James back to the first Galbraith family of Ireland, who arrived there abut 1613. Our last Chief from Culcreuch fled to Ireland in about 1625 and left living sons in Scotland who might have lines to the present. We are pretty sure that Group 1 links back to the 1400s at Culcreuch–but we do not know if the Chiefs maintained the DNA into the future (or past to Bretnach of 1150).

From Dana Love same group:
We know the two groups have the same YDNA Haplogroup and most of the same markers which leads us to believe they were related at some point, but they are several generations apart. We haven’t found any source documents to tie them together.

DNA has become an important tool in genealogical research, and as more people take the test, the number of matches increases, making it even more useful. Hopefully this will be true for these family lines.

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