Believed to be of Gaelic origin, the Galbraith name is derived from the words, ‘Gall’ and ‘Breathnach’ meaning “British Foreigner”. It is believed that this name was given to the clan due to their links to the Welsh-speaking Britons, a group that inhabited the Kingdom of Strathclyde – an early medieval kingdom in southern Scotland and northern England – which had its capital at Dumbarton on the banks of the River Clyde.
The early Galbraiths are believed to have held land at Lennox, North of Dumbarton with their stronghold being based on the island of Inchgalbraith on the West side of Loch Lomond.
The first written reference to the Galbraith family came in 1208 when a Gillescop Galbraith was said to have witnessed a charter.
The clan would go on to become very influential in Scottish history – supporting King Robert the Bruce in the Scottish War of Independence and then helping to attempt to carry his remains to the Holy Land for burial following his death.
However, while the family would enjoy further prominence over the coming years, by the end of the 16th century, personal troubles would cause the 17th chief, Robert Galbraith of Culcreuch, to be forced to give up much of his lands in Lennox to appease his enemies and eventually in 1622, following the dramatic fall of the clan’s reputation, they would be forced to sell their traditional seat at Culcreuch castle in order to settle debts. Today the clan is Armigerous and remains without a chief.