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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the Scottish Galbreath family come from? What is the Scottish Galbreath family crest and coat of arms? When did the Galbreath family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Galbreath family history?

Galbreath was a name for a person who came from Briton. The surname Galbreath comes from the Gaelic words gall, which means stranger, and Bhreathnach, which means Briton. This surname was given to those who were described as the strangers from Briton. Galbreath is therefore a nickname surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Nicknames form a broad and miscellaneous class of surnames, and can refer directly or indirectly to one's personality, physical attributes, mannerisms, or even their habits of dress. Members of the Galbreath family settled in Angus, prior to the Norman invasion of England, in 1066.

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During the Middle Ages, there was no basic set of rules and scribes wrote according to sound. The correct spelling of Scottish names were further compromised after many haphazard translations from Gaelic to English and back. Spelling variations of the name Galbreath include Galbraith, Galbreath, Galbreith, Galbreth, Galbrith, Galberth and many more.

First found in Angus (Gaelic: Aonghas), part of the Tayside region of northeastern Scotland, and present day Council Area of Angus, formerly known as Forfar or Forfarshire where the first Galbraith chief can be traced back to the 12th century. As this chief married a daughter of the Earl of Lennox the house must have been of a noble status. Sir William Galbraith, who was the fourth Chief of the Clan, became highly involved with Scottish national affairs. He was a co-regent of Scotland in 1255, serving a guardian of the young King Alexander III.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Galbreath research. Another 236 words(17 lines of text) covering the year 1594 is included under the topic Early Galbreath History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Galbreath Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Galbreath family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 261 words(19 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Scots left their country by the thousands to travel to Australia and North America. Desperate for freedom and an opportunity to fend for themselves, many paid huge fees and suffered under terrible conditions on long voyages. Still, for those who made the trip, freedom and opportunity awaited. In North America, many fought their old English oppressors in the American War of Independence. In recent years, Scottish heritage has been an increasingly important topic, as Clan societies and other organizations have renewed people's interest in their history. An examination of passenger and immigration lists shows many early settlers bearing the name of Galbreath:

Galbreath Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • John Galbreath, aged 20, arrived in New York in 1774
  • Angus and his wife Katrine Galbreath settled in Wilmington in 1774
  • Angus Galbreath, who arrived in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1774

Galbreath Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • James Galbreath, who landed in New York, NY in 1815
  • Rachael Galbreath, who landed in New York, NY in 1815
  • Rachel Galbreath, who arrived in New York, NY in 1815
  • Henry Galbreath, who arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1855
  • Samuel Galbreath, who landed in Mississippi in 1856

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  • John Wilmer Galbreath (1897-1988), American building contractor, sportsman and philanthropist
  • Harry Galbreath (1965-2010), American football player
  • Tony Dale Galbreath (b. 1954), former American football running back
  • Frank Galbreath (1913-1971), American jazz trumpeter
  • Charles Burleigh Galbreath (1858-1934), American writer, historian, educator, and librarian
  • Louis Hutchinson Galbreath (1861-1899), American educator who specialized in training teachers


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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Ab Obice Suavior
Motto Translation: Stronger when opposed.

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  1. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  2. Adam, Frank. Clans Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands 8th Edition. London: Bacon (G.W.) & Co, 1970. Print. (ISBN 10-0717945006).
  3. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  4. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and David Hicks. The Highland Clans The Dynastic Origins, Cheifs and Background of the Clans. New York: C.N. Potter, 1968. Print.
  5. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  6. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  7. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  8. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  9. Skene, William Forbes Edition. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots and Other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867. Print.
  10. Paul, Sir James Balfour. An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland Second Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1903. Print.
  11. ...

The Galbreath Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Galbreath Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 6 May 2011 at 10:27.

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