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The 1718 Galbraiths

Article by Dave Colwell in the August 2009 issue of The Red Tower, Clan Galbraith Association, Vol. XXX. No 4, ISSN 1059-4264)

The 1718 Immigrants

Franklin Ellis and Samuel Evans published The History Lancaster County Pennsylvania in 1883. Under the heading Pioneer Settlers the book lists the following, among other names:

Andrew Galbraith, 1718
James Galbraith. 1718
John Galbraith, 1818 (the date was doubtless a typo)
Robert Galbraith, son of John, 1718.

James Galbraith was the father, born, according to his gravestone, in 1666. John (b.1690) was his oldest son. Andrew (b. 1692) was his second son. Robert, son of John, has always been a source of perplexity. Was he James's brother? If so, why wasn't James also listed as a son of John') Was he James's nephew, a son of James's brother, John, who did not make this trip with the others in his family') Was he a cousin to these Galbraiths? Various theories have been advanced, but no definitive answer has yet emerged.

The list of Pioneer Settlers gave only the names of adult males. Wives and minor children were not listed. We know, however, that son John arrived with a wife and two small children. Son Andrew arrived with a wife and one small child. A third son, James Galbraith Jr. (b.1703) and James Sr. 's young daughter, Isabel (birth date unknown), were also included in the group. James's other daughter, Rebecca, remained in Ulster. (I had written in a recent article that another daughter, Eleanor, was a sister to James Jr. and therefore a daughter of James Sr., but I now think that Eleanor, or Elinor, was actually a daughter of James Sr.'s son, John, and therefore a granddaughter of James Sr.) That made a group of 11 Galbraiths.

William Henry Egle was the official Pennsylvania State Historian from 1887 to 1899. He was also a respected genealogist of Pennsylvania's prominent early families. In 1886 Egle published Galbraith of Donegal as a part of his Pennsylvania Genealogies. Many errors were subsequently discovered in Egle's Galbraith genealogy. Some were corrected by Robert Allison Orbison in the early 20th century. Many more were corrected by Jean Harriger, the CGA's outstanding, thorough, and careful genealogist, in the 1980s and 1990s. In spite of all his mistakes, Egle is the starting point for genealogical research into early Pennsylvania Galbraiths. In his defense it should be said that Galbraith of Donegal was published 168 years after these Galbraiths arrived in Pennsylvania: there were no official birth records for most of those years; family bibles and other family records could and did disappear; tales of family ancestry passed by word of mouth from one generation to another were always susceptible to error; and in many cases human memory is hardily infallible.

Egle (who may simply have used some of the information in Ellis and Evans history published 3 years previously) stated that James Galbraith was the son of John Galbraith in the north of Ireland and that his wife was Rebecca Chambers, daughter of Arthur Chambers. Many today agree that James's father was a John Galbraith, although definitive proof is lacking. It seems likely that Rebecca Chambers had died before these Galbraiths left Ireland for Pennsylvania. There is no mention of her anywhere in the Pennsylvania historical record, nor is she among those buried in the Donegal or Derry graveyards, the only two graveyards in which her body might be found.

It might be well to repeat here the customary Scottish naming pattern. The first son was named for his paternal grandfather. The second son was named for his maternal grandfather. The third son was named for his father. The first daughter was named for her maternal grandmother. The second daughter was named for her paternal grandmother. The third daughter was named for her mother.

That James named his oldest son John supports the theory that James's father was a John. (There is another piece of supportive evidence, which appears in the section of this article which discusses James's daughter, Rebecca.) The second son, Robert, was not named after his maternal grandfather, whose given name was Arthur according to Egle. James's third son, James Jr., was named after his father. Rebecca, whom I believe was James's elder daughter, was named not after her maternal grandmother (unless the mother of Rebecca Chambers was another Rebecca), but after her presumed mother. Isabel, James's other daughter, was not named for any near relation in the family, as far as is known. No one of the three sons of James Sr., that is, John, Robert, and James Jr., named a son after their father; rather those three sons named their first sons John, Robert, and William respectively. What's in a name? Sometimes not very much!

Where Did They Come From?

These Galbraiths and other Scotch-Irish immigrants who lived in a part of what is now Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, changed the name of that area from Conestoga Township to Donegal Township. They named their first church the Donegal Church and the nearby springs the Donegal Springs. They named the presbytery which included the Presbyterian churches in their area the Donegal Presbytery.
They named their next church in what is now Hershey, Pennsylvania, the Derry Church after Derry or Londonderry, which is just across the River Foyle in Ireland from that part of County Donegal, where most of them came from. They came, then, almost certainly from Donegal in Ulster.

Galbraiths in Donegal

King James II of England (VI of Scotland), who came to the English throne when Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, declared the Irish province of Ulster escheated to the English crown when two leading Irish Catholic earls fled Ireland. He then conceived a scheme under which Protestant English and Scottish settlers were "planted" in Ulster and were granted most of the land in that province, ousting the Irish Catholic natives from their landholdings. This process, known as the Plantation, commenced in 1610.

There were a number of Galbraith lines in Donegal and elsewhere in Ulster in the early days of the Plantation. There was the line of James Galbraith of Balgair and his family, which I discuss further below. There was the line of Robert, 17th Galbraith Chief, who is reported to have gone to Ulster, probably Donegal, after he lost Culcreuch Castle in 1624. He had a number of sons. As Robert's affairs and financial situation deteriorated after 1600, some of those sons might have gone to Donegal before their father, at the same time as their father, or after their father had gone there. There were also the Galbraiths of Dunduffs Fort, who arrived early at an unknown date. And there were likely a number of Galbraiths of lesser social standing who were tenants of those who received land grants during the Plantation and who came from less well known Galbraith lines.

The 1630 Muster Roll of Donegal, which listed all the tenants of suitable age for military service (excluding those of higher social standing who had received land grants during the Plantation or were otherwise significant landholders), listed five Galbreaths, John, Alexander, Andrew, Martin, and William. One or more might have been sons of l ?" Chief Robert or they might have been less prominent and less well off Galbraith tenants on various land grants. The Donegal 1665 Hearth Money Roll, an early kind of real estate tax listing, gave the names of some other Galbraiths: Malcome Galbraith of Leek Parish; Thomas Galbraith of Lisnowall; Elspet Galbraith of Rateine; James Galbraith of Gortree; Ninian Galbraith of Creghadow; and Walter Galbraith of Mongavlin. Ninian, not a common Scottish given name, came into the Balgair Galbraith family when an earlier Galbraith married the daughter of Sir Ninian Seton in 1548. Was this 1665 Ninian Galbraith a descendant? Seventeenth Chief Robert had a natural son, one born out of wedlock, named Walter. In 1606 a Galbraith lady in Stirling, with whom Robert had placed this baby, brought suit against Robert for failure to pay for the baby's care. Was 1665 Walter Galbraith that natural son who had found his way to his cousins in Donegal? Or might he have been a natural son, born out of wedlock to one of the Donegal Galbraiths.

Elsewhere in Ulster other Galbraiths were to be found. Archibald Galbraith, son of John Galbraith, younger brother of James Galbraith of Balgair, moved to Mountcastle in County Tyrone. His son, John Galbraith, settled at Blessingbourne in Tyrone. Another John Galbraith, who is reported to have come to Ireland about the same time as the family of James Galbraith of Balgair, settled at Roscavy in Tyrone.

Although the relationship between James and John Galbraith of Balgair and their descendants is recognized, the relationship of other Galbraiths to each other is unknown.

What Was the Ancestry of the 1718 Galbraiths?

Do we know who their ancestors in Donegal were? Specific links are still missing, but we know quite a lot about their ancestors.

In a recent article in the Red Tower I wrote about a 1784 or 1785 memorandum written by Bartram Galbraith, second son of James Galbraith Jr. and grandson of James Sr. Addressed to an Alex Scott who was about to leave on a trip to Britain, Bartram wrote the words, "James Galbraith of the House of Bogeare," towards the end of the memorandum, as if to suggest that Alex Scott see if he could discover some information about this James Galbraith. I stated that this was the first genuine clue, indeed, actual evidence as to the ancestry of the 1718 Galbraith immigrants. I believe that the word Bogeare was a corruption over several generations of the word Balgair. As the name of James Galbraith of Balgair was passed down by word of mouth from one generation of Galbraiths to the next, perhaps Balgair became Bagair, then Bogair, and finally Bogeare. That corruption of the word Balgair was something which had to have occurred over time. It was probably not something Bartram had learned contemporaneously or he would have spelled it correctly as Balgair. I believe, as do others who have studied the subject, that the Pennsylvania Galbraiths were descended from the Balgair Galbraiths in Ulster.

James Galbraith, Gudman of Balgair

Various lines of Galbraiths moved from Scotland to Ireland during the Plantation. Among the earliest was a family from Balgair, a district near Fintry in Scotland and close to the Culcreuch Castle, home of the last Galbraith chiefs. The Balgair Galbraiths were a cadet line of those chiefs. Humphrey Galbraith of Balgair and his wife Isabel Cunningham had two sons, James (born c1560) and John (born c1565). James married Mary Buchanan of Ibert in 1593 and had with her four sons, James, Robert, Humphrey, and William (and perhaps more), and one possible daughter. This James Galbraith of Balgair moved his family to Donegal in Ulster in 1614/15. There is no record of Mary Buchanan in the Galbraith Donegal history. Possibly she passed away before the move to Ireland.

On 17 August 1616 a James Galbraith Sr. and a James Galbraith Jr. of Rateine, a townland in Donegal, were granted denization. (Scotland and England, including Ireland, were two separate countries. Denization conferred the rights of English citizenship on Scottish settlers in Ireland.) Those who have studied the history of the Galbraiths during the Plantation, including me, believe that these two James Galbraiths were James Galbraith of Balgair, the father, and his oldest son, another James. The younger James would have been born a year or two after his parents' 1593 marriage and would have been just 2l. As was normal in such proceedings, the names of minor sons and a wife, if she were still alive, would not have been listed, but they would have been included in the denization.

In a 1945 book on the Wrays, a leading Donegal family, author Charlotte Violet Trench discussed "a very ancient tombstone that lies in the churchyard of Mullibrack in County Armagh," which was inscribed, "James Galbraith, Gudman of Balgair who departed this Lyfe the 3 of No. Anno domini 1618." (Mullibrack adjoined the large land grant at Markethill in Armagh given to Sir Archibald Acheson.) In an article in a 1985 issue of the Red Tower 40 years later an article based on research by Patricia D' Arcy, a respected English researcher in Galbraith genealogy, reported that the gravestone actually read "James Acheson Galbraith, Gudman of Balgair" and stated further that this James Galbraith was a tenant on the Acheson land grant. Some believed that this was the senior James Galbraith who had received denization 2 years earlier in Donegal. I was skeptical because James Galbraith of Balgair was well-born and I did not believe would have been an ordinary tenant on Sir Archibald Acheson's land grant. Not only was I skeptical that James Galbraith was a tenant, but I also doubted his name as reported in 1985. While today it is common for an individual to bear two family names (as my middle name is Galbraith and my last name Colwell), such a use of two family names for a man was unknown in those times.

It was also suggested that he was not an ordinary tenant but rather the land agent or overseer on that land grant, another suggestion of which I was skeptical because there was no evidence whatsoever that he ever held such a position.

Pat D'Arcy never saw the gravestone, I later learned, but talked with a retired, elderly former warden of the Mullibrack church, who reported that he remembered the "Acheson Galbraith" inscription on the gravestone, which had itself long since disappeared. But the archaic spelling of the inscription reported by Trench seemed more credible. Trench, however, didn't say she had seen the gravestone. Where had her information come from?

Finally it dawned on me. In the in the late 1800s and early 1900s a small army of volunteers went to thousands of Irish graveyards and copied all the gravestone inscriptions they found before those inscriptions were lost to time and the elements. Most often those inscriptions were printed in a series of volumes entitled "Memorials of the Dead" published from 1888 to 1930. I thought information about the gravestone of James Galbraith, Gudman of Balgair might be found in one of those volumes. However, T.G.F. Paterson (b.1888 d.1971), later the first curator of the Armagh County Museum in Ulster from 1935 to 1963, wrote separately and extensively about the Mullibrack church. With the help of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City I obtained the film which contained more than 100 pages of notes he made regarding that church, including lists of those buried there, gravestone inscriptions and other memorials to those who had passed away, and much church history, lists of all the vestrymen church expenses, and so forth.

When I looked at that film, sure enough, Trench's report of the inscription was correct and James Galbraith did not have Acheson as his middle name. Mr. Paterson made a drawing of the gravestone of James Galbraith, which is reproduced here. This drawing was probably made in 1926 before he became curator of the museum,

The inscription on the tombstone reads: "HAER LAYIS IN TOJM THE BODY OF JAMIS GALBRAIT GUUDMAN OF BALGAIR WHA DEPARTIT THIS LYFE IN THE 3 OF NO ANNO DOMINI 1618 ANNO AETATIS SUE," (The last three words mean "in the year of his age," I suspect those who carved tombstone inscriptions were often illiterate - note the backwards "n" which is the third such error I have seen in Galbraith gravestone inscriptions of the 1600s, Someone gave those inscribers a pattern and they simply carved it.

Probably it was standard practice to inscribe "Anno Aetatis Sue" on all graves; so it was done here. And then the carver found out James Galbraith's birth date was unknown, so there is a blank space on the tombstone.

On the tombstone there are the three bears' heads, The Galbraith coat of arms contains a bear's head; so these three bears' heads may indicate that the individual buried here was of a chiefly line, which was true of the Balgair Galbraiths; there was also an hourglass; a skull and crossed bones; and the words "MEMENTO MORI" ("Remember you shall die").

In his neat (and somewhat difficult to decipher) handwriting Mr. Paterson wrote "GALBRAITH OF BALGAIR;" "Guudman;" "All who held their lands of a subject [meaning unclear], though they were of very large, and their superiours [ancestors?] very noble were only called Good-men from the old French word Bon-homme, which was the title of the master of the family." "[Science of Heraldry, Pages 13 and 14]." "The Galbraiths of Balgair came from Stirlingshire in Scotland." Then he gave some references to the history of James Galbraith.

(I had earlier found the word "Goodman" in The Oxford Universal Dictionary described as, among other things, "A man of substance, not of gentle birth; a yeoman, etc.;" and I was therefore skeptical that this James Galbraith was the son of Humphrey of Balgair and his wife, Isabel Cunningham. But I was wrong. Mr. Paterson's explanation of the word elevates somewhat the social position of James Galbraith, the Gudman.)

If this 1618 James Galbraith of Balgair was the elder of the two James Galbraiths who received denization in 1616 in Donegal, what was he doing far from home in Armagh? Discussing this point one day with Bill Gilbreath, he suggested offhand that perhaps James Galbraith was simply visiting Sir Archibald Acheson when he died. That seems to me possible, for there was clearly some family connection between the Achesons and the Galbraiths at that time.

Sir Archibald Acheson died in 1634 in Letterkenny, a town in Donegal. He had no landholdings and no known business in Donegal, 65-70 miles from his home in Armagh; perhaps he had gone there to visit brothers James Galbraith (now of Magevelin,, a mile or so from Rateine) and Robert Galbraith (now of Dowish, perhaps 2 miles from Rateine), the sons of James Galbraith of Balgair. Both of their homes were near Letterkenny. In fact, James Galbraith of Mageve1in signed the 1634 funeral certificate of Sir Archibald Acheson as "a kinsman." If Archibald Acheson could possibly die while visiting those Galbraiths, perhaps their father had died in 1618 while visiting Acheson.

In 1638 James and Robert's younger brother, Humphrey, signed the funeral certificate of Sir Patrick Acheson, Archibald's son, "as being his kinsman." Some years later Sir George Acheson, second son of Archibald, served as overseer for the will of James Galbraith of Ramoran, the son of Robert Galbraith of Dowish. All are clues that there was a bond or family connection between those Achesons and Galbraiths. Exactly what that bond was had yet to be discovered.

Who had ordered this gravestone carved with the inscription and various symbols? If James, the Gudman, had in fact died on a visit to Sir Archibald Acheson, perhaps one or more of his sons had accompanied him and directed the making of the gravestone.

After considering all possibilities, including the reference to "James Galbraith of the House of Bogeare" in Bartram Galbraith's memorandum, I now think that James Galbraith, Gudman of Balgair, who died in 1618, was the son of Humphrey Galbraith of Balgair and Isabel Cunningham, the father of at least four sons of his own, and a direct ancestor of the 1718 Pennsylvania Galbraiths.

The Sons of James Galbraith of Balgair

James Galbraith of Balgair and his wife, Mary Buchanan, had at least four sons and a possible daughter. The sons of James Galbraith of Balgair were James, Robert, Humphrey, and William. The first three were well known, well respected, and well documented in various accounts and histories of Donegal in the 1600s. These Galbraiths were a leading Donegal family at that time. James served twice as a Member of the Irish Parliament and later as a Lt. Col. in the Lagan Army, which was a military force of Scottish immigrants in Donegal, mobilized to confront the Catholic Irish uprising in 1641, and which later fought a losing battle against the forces of Oliver Cromwell and Parliament. Robert was also a Lt. Col. in the Lagan Army. (There is a possibility that both James and Robert had previous military service fighting in the Thirty Years War on the Continent and were accorded high rank in the Lagan Army because of it.) Humphrey served as a minister in the Church of Ireland, an Anglican church, and rose to the senior position of Archdeacon. There are only a few references to William in the historical record and we know little about him, except that he is explicitly referred to as a brother to the others.

James had four daughters. Robert had two sons and two daughters: one son died young. The other son was James Galbraith of Ramoran, another Galbraith who served a term in the Irish Parliament. James of Ramoran had three daughters. His uncle, Humphrey, had three daughters. There were no sons in the historical record to continue the line.

With respect to the possible daughter, the will of James of Ramoran, son of Robert Galbraith of Dowish, refers to an uncle, Thomas Lucy. We know nothing of any Lucys in Galbraith history; Thomas Lucy must have been married to James of Ramoran's aunt, whose given name is unknown. That aunt could have been a sister of his father's, and sister to the other Galbraith brothers, or she could have been a sister to his mother, Jean Cunningham. We do not know the Cunningham genealogy. At any rate, there has so far been discovered no further reference to this aunt, the wife of Thomas Lucy

The 1718 Galbraiths were clearly a leading and well respected family when they arrived in Pennsylvania. They were elected to the colonial assembly and to such other positions as sheriff, justice of the peace, and coroner. They helped to found the Donegal Church, served as elders at that church, and represented their church at meetings of the Donegal Presbytery. If the important 1718 Pennsylvania Galbraiths were descended from that leading Donegal Galbraith family, how did that occur?

A Theory

I believe that the descent may well have been through a natural son, one born out of wedlock. I believe it very unlikely that brothers James and Humphrey and their nephew, James of Ramoran, had only daughters. Natural children were not uncommon in those days. James, 13th Galbraith Chief, had a natural son named Walter who later received "letters of legitimation" in 1558. Robert, 17th Chief, also had a natural son, Walter, whom he placed with a Helen Galbraith in Stirling. We only know of this natural son because he failed to pay Helen and in 1606 she brought suit against him for "twa zeirrs susteinment" of Walter, for which she received "three score sax punds money." So this Walter was born in 1604.

The histories and documents of the period make little or no mention of natural children. While natural children would certainly have been known to others, I think they were generally deliberately omitted from the historical record. Were it not for Helen's lawsuit, for example, we would be unlikely to know of 17th Chief Robert's natural son, Walter.

I have wondered if brother William Galbraith might have been a natural son of James Galbraith of Balgair. There are found very few references to him, while there are many to his brothers, James, Robert, and Humphrey.

I also wonder if the unnamed aunt, who married Thomas Lucy, if she were a Galbraith, might also have been a natural daughter, which could have been responsible for her being omitted in the historical record. There was also a genuine brother, Andrew, mentioned in Robert Galbraith's will, who had a son Humphrey, to whom Robert left 20 pounds "to put him to a trade." Neither Andrew nor his son, Humphrey, appears in historical accounts of the period. These Donegal Galbraiths were an elite family of members of parliament, landowners, army officers, and ministers and did not work at "a trade." Perhaps Andrew was the natural son of James Galbraith of Balgair and/or perhaps Andrew's son; Humphrey was a natural son. The family histories and accounts of the Galbraith brothers all indicate that James Galbraith of Magevelin had four daughters, all of whom, as it happened, married Hamiltons. But other less formal accounts state that there were two additional daughters, one of whom married a Sir Harry Echlin and the other a member of the Babington family. Were these two daughters natural daughters?

Others have claimed that a John and a Hugh were also brothers of James, Robert, Humphrey, and William. Perhaps they were natural sons as well. For that matter Elspet Galbraith, recorded in the 1665 Hearth Money Roll as living in Rateine, might have been the natural daughter of one of the Balgair Galbraiths, still living in the townland to which they had originally come in 1615.

James Galbraith, the paterfamilias of the 1718 Galbraiths, was born in 1666. From which one of the descendants of James Galbraith of Balgair might he have been descended? It might have been brothers James or Humphrey, both of whom had no sons according to the record. He might also have been descended from James of Ramoran, who was a wealthy man with no recorded sons. James of Ramoran was younger (b.1620-1630); he might barely have been the grandfather of 1718 James (b. 1666), or possibly he was his father. If he were his father, it would have been contrary to the limited evidence indicating 1718 James's father was a John Galbraith, but, as we have seen, the naming pattern was not always followed.

If a man had a legitimate son, he might not bequeath much to that son's illegitimate brother. But if a man had no legitimate son and a natural son he cared for, he might leave a lot to that natural son, particularly if all his daughters had married well. The descent then might have been from James Galbraith of Magevelin. Perhaps he had a natural son, whom he named John; and this John was the father of 1718 James Galbraith (named after his paternal grandfather), who in turn named his oldest son John. The descent might also have come from James of Ramoran, who was a wealthier man than his uncles. Probably the descent did not come from Humphrey, for there are no Humphreys among the descendants of 1718 James.

I don't think there was much stigma attached to natural children. I suppose the father arranged for the child to be cared for elsewhere. Their wives certainly would not want evidence of their husbands' behavior, or misbehavior, in their homes and probably just muttered "Men!" to themselves in disgust. If, then, James of Magevelin had a natural son whom he named John and to whom he bequeathed a substantial amount, he might perhaps have parked the boy in Newton Cunningham, where Sir John Cunningham, an uncle of Jean Cunningham Galbraith, brother Robert's wife, had received a sizable land grant.

If the descent were through James of Ramoran, he too might have parked the boy in Newton Cunningham, where his mother's uncle had established a village on his land grant. That could account for the reference to Newton Cunningham found in the history of Rebecca Galbraith, a daughter of 1718 James Galbraith (see below).

Perhaps such a natural son might have married well and/or his son, 1718 James Galbraith, the immigrant, might have done the same. That might have accounted for his apparent wealth when he arrived in Pennsylvania. Or, more speculatively, perhaps the Cunninghams of Newton Cunningham gave him a helping hand. Sir John Cunningham probably had no sons, for in the 1654 Civil Survey of Ireland the property at Newton Cunningham was owned by Sir John's co-heiresses, probably his daughters. If his property were still in their names and not in the name of any husbands, possibly they were unmarried and had no immediate heirs. If a natural Galbraith son became established at Newton Cunningham, and if he were a good man, might not those two co-heiresses have also left him some money? He was a relative; Cunninghams and Galbraiths had always been close in Scotland and in Ulster; and Sir John had made a success out of the property he acquired in his land grant and must have become fairly wealthy. So perhaps those two co-heiresses helped him. That is merely conjecture. There is no substantiation of it in the historical record.

So there is a theory. It is a reasonably plausible hypothesis, which may be proved or disproved when, hopefully, more of the actual historical record comes to light. If this theory is correct, we have charted the 1718 Galbraith immigrants in Pennsylvania from their origin in Balgair in Scotland through their stay of 100 years or so in Ulster to their arrival in America. It is possible another scenario could explain these facts, but I have been unable to come up with one.

In the meantime all we 60 CGA members who are descended from the 1718 Galbraiths might consider ourselves the natural descendants of James Galbraith of Balgair. (But I don't suppose we need letters of legitimation.)

Rebecca Galbraith

Before considering the matter of Rebecca Galbraith, daughter of 1718 James Galbraith, we should consider the birth dates of all of his children. James, born in 1666, may have married in 1688 at the age of 22. His oldest son, John, was born in 1690 and his second son, Robert, in 1692. His third son, James, was born in 1703. His daughter, Isabel, was married on August 21, 1735, and therefore, if she were a normal 18 to 22 years old when married, would have been born 1713-1717. Leaving Rebecca's birth date aside for the moment, that is a strange pattern. Two sons were born: then 11 years passed before another son was born; then perhaps another 10 years passed before Isabel was born. Did the mother of John and Robert, presumably Rebecca Chambers, die following Robert's birth? Did James Sr. marry again before the birth of James Jr.? Did a second wife die following the birth of James Jr.? Did James Sr. marry yet again before the birth of Isabel? And did that third wife also die before they all left for America, where there is no historical reference or mention of a wife to James Sr.? That is unlikely. But the sequence of birth dates is strange.

Where does Rebecca fit in this picture? We know that Rebecca did not make the trip to America in 1718. A Stewart family genealogical record states: "Alexander Stewart of Fort Stewart and Carnemauga, born about 1703, m. about 1732 Rebecca dau. John Galbraith of Newton Cunningham." We know Rebecca was the daughter of James Galbraith Sr. and we also know she did indeed marry Alexander Stewart. Could the Stewart genealogist have erred in mistaking her grandfather, John Galbraith of Newton Cunningham, for her actual father? That could support the idea that the father of 1718 James Galbraith was a John Galbraith.

If Rebecca were a normal 18-22 years old when she married Alexander Stewart, she would have been born 1710-1714. She would certainly not have been left behind in Ireland when her family left for America in 1718. Rebecca is credited with six children, the oldest being Alexander Stewart Jr. Alexander Stewart, the father, is reported to have died 1742 - 1743 in Ireland. Following his death, in 1745 Rebecca and five of her children came to Pennsylvania to join her family; and there Rebecca died in 1748. Alexander Stewart Jr. did not make that trip, but stayed behind in Donegal and inherited his father's land, If he were a son of Rebecca, Alexander Jr. might have been born at the earliest in 1733/1734. That would have made him 11-12 years old when Rebecca, his mother, left for America. That too is pretty unlikely. Surely a mother wouldn't leave an liar 12 year old child behind when she left for another continent. But all her other five children who made the trip to America appear to have been of an age to have been born after 1732.

I wonder if Rebecca was not born 1700-1701 and had been just married when her family left Donegal for America. Whom did she marry? Her will refers to a son named James Karr, but in those times individuals might refer to their sons-in-law and daughters-in-law simply as sons and daughters. So we don't know if James Karr was actually her son or a son-in-law. But if he were her son, the name James would not have been inappropriate and he might have been named for her father. One of the witnesses to her will was Elizabeth Kerr. Was she the wife of James Karr? To be 21 and a witness when Rebecca wrote her will, Elizabeth had to have been born no later than 1727. So, Rebecca might have been married to a Karr/Kerr c 1718 just before her family left for America and James might have later married an Elizabeth (last name unknown). Or Rebecca could have jkmarried a man (name unknown) c 1718 and had a daughter Elizabeth who later married James Karr/Kerr. Or James and Elizabeth were brother and sister, Rebecca's children of her first marriage with a man named Karr/Kerr. In any case James and Elizabeth might have come to America with Rebecca and her five other children. Rebecca then would have been widowed before she married Alexander Stewart in 1732. I wonder also if Alexander Stewart had not been previously married and was a widower with a son, Alexander Stewart Jr., when he married Rebecca in 1732. That would account for Alexander Jr. being older than Rebecca's other children and being left behind when Rebecca and her other children left for America.


When you make a foray into poorly charted genealogical territory, you may find answers, at least possible or tentative answers, to some questions. But you inevitably raise others. Ah, questions, always questions.

(Source - Article by Dave Colwell in the August 2009 issue of The Red Tower, Clan Galbraith Association, Vol. XXX. No 4, ISSN 1059-4264)

Owner/SourceThe Red Tower, Clan Galbraith Association
DateAugust 2009
Linked toAndrew Galbraith; Humphrey Galbraith; Humphrey Galbraith; James Galbraith; John Galbraith; John Galbraith; Rebecca Galbraith; Robert Galbraith; William Galbraith; Humphrey Galbraith of Balgair; Robert Galbraith of Dowish; James Galbraith of Ramoran; James Galbraith of Rateine (later Magevelin); A Natural Son; James Galbraith the Gudman of Balgair, Scotland

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