was born about 1735 (from age of 64 yrs given in burial records and tombstone
inscription of 1799). He was most likely born in Scotland, as documentation referred to below will indicate.
There is no corresponding baptism in Scotland for Thomas around 1735.
We know that he had
a brother William born about 1745 [see William's
will]. William was a Scotch factor in London. This lack of baptismal evidence continues with
the children Thomas had with
wife Mary Ann or Marian (apart from James in 1769),
with no further baptisms for children from that marriage in either Paisley, Glasgow, New York or
London. It is possible that his 1st wife was Janet
Russell, and the children from this marriage are recorded in the baptismal
records. Fortunately Thomas left other evidence in his
activities as a merchant, in newspapers and directories etc., in
and the Bunhill Fields burial records and inscriptions [see
items further below].
Thomas may not have been of the mainstream Church of Scotland, which may
explain the lack of church records. In London he used the
non-conformist Islington Lower Street Church.
The family tradition is that my Galbreath family were originally
from Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland. There is a family
comprising a Thomas Galbreath and his wife Janet Russell in
Paisley in the mid 1700's. Two of the children named in Thomas's will, Margaret
& David, match baptisms of Thomas G. & Janet Russell, and
are possibly the surviving children of that marriage, if indeed it
is the same Thomas. The fact that Thomas' daughter Margaret
married Paisley man William Sharp, tends to confirm the
Paisley origins or connections.
The Paisley Thomas :-
The Marriage Proclamation in the Port Glasgow Register for Thomas
Galbreath & Janet Russel/Russell reads :-
"18th Sept 1756 Thomas Galbraith Mercht in Kilbarchan and
Janet Russel daughter to the deceased David Russel farmer in the
parish of Lanark, were booked in order to proclamation for
This Thomas demonstrated his mobility and desire to move and
explore new opportunities, as the records of Thomas Galbreath
& Janet Russel have the marriage at Port Glasgow, with Thomas being
resident of Kilbarchan, their first child being baptised in Port
Glasgow, and the rest in Paisley. There is no doubt that this is
all one family as Janet is always shown as Janet Russel[l] in the
records. Thomas's surname is variously spelt in the same records
as Galbraith & Galbreath.
If the Paisley Thomas is the one, then his first wife Janet Russell
must have died, with Thomas subsequently marrying Mary Ann or Marion/Marian McBeth. No record has
been found of a burial of Janet (Paisley burial books have not
survived), nor of his marriage to Mary Ann. Recorded in the Burgess Books
of Pailsey, is the purchase of a burial lair
in 1762 in the Paisley Laigh (Low) Church by Thomas Galbreath,
Merchant. He buried at least one child in Pailsey, as two baptisms are recorded
for a child named Jean.
Thomas Galbreath & Janet Russell had no more
children baptised after 1766 in Paisley Low Church, hence the possibility that she had
died. There is a baptism in Paisley Low Church in 1769 of a James Galbraith, son of Thomas
Galbraith and Marion McBeth. Thomas Galbreath of Islington buried a son James in Bunhill
Fields, London, in 1800, he was aged 31. This fits the age of the Paisley baptism in
1769. Also in Bunhill Fields, Marian a daughter of Thomas, was buried in 1797.
The burial book records her as Mary Ann, whereas the Monumental Inscription
records her as Marian. It is therefore equally possible that the burial records
for Thomas' wife showing Mary Ann, could actually be for a Marian or Marion, especially
given Thomas would have had a Scottish accent. This would then match the Paisley
Low Church baptism of James in 1769 to a Thomas & Marion.
Thomas in Glasgow
Regardless of whether Thomas is the same man as the Paisley Thomas or
not, he can definitely be traced from Glasgow, to America, and finally to
London. Thomas was trading in Glasgow as a
merchant (Thomas Galbreath & Co.) before which he went to New York, as
evidenced in the following Probative writ :- Glasgow Discharge of Assignation 1777.
If the Paisley Thomas is the same person, then he must have moved to Glasgow,
probably shortly after James was born in 1769.
Thomas in America
Thomas arrived in America in June 1771, from Scotland in the Friendship.
traded as a merchant in New York in the haberdashery, millinery, hosiery and
men's furnishing trade. [Son David's biography in the
Biographical Register of Saint Andrew's Society of the State of New York
by William M. MacBean; 1922]
Several newspaper advertisements tell us more
about his time in America - For full details see newspaper items.
He is mentioned as one of forty associates being granted a Patent for 30,000
acres on the East side of Lake Champlain, New York State. Whilst the patent was
granted in 1774, the first petition for the patent was lodged in 1771. See
Mr Galbreath is twice mentioned in letters by Hugh Simm, New York, to
his brother Andrew Simm in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland :-
3 Mar 1772 - "PS. Mr. Galbreath just now send me the following lines
and desires you to aquaint his sister Mrs Galbreath that he hath his
complements to her that his wife was safly delivered of a son feb the 26
and recovers very well the childs name is William that he desires her to
aquaint Mrs freenos of the same and that he and family are well and love
9 Jan 1773 - "I have nothing material to write since my last with Mr
Galbreath but having this opportunity to send this letter with the Shipe
Buchanan I think proper to observe these few things ...........
- In a letter directed to Mr Galbreath I see an account of the badness of
trade in pasley (sic. Paisley) that 600 weavers are turned off
which I am very sorry for and hope that affairs will soon take a better
['Discoveries in America - Personal Accounts of British
Emigrants to North America during the Revolutionary Era' by Barbar De
Thomas was the first signatory in a petition in 1775 by 15 New York merchants
regarding the shipping of flax seed to Ireland - see petition.
In 1776 & 1784, Thomas sold some of his Scottish lands, the papers
of which were recorded in 1787 in the Register of Deeds, of the Court of
, in Edinburgh. Further research is required to try and find the records of
purchase. However it is quite clear that Thomas was a man of some means to
be able to purchase the property, whether inherited money or of his own
efforts? The properties were farms, and most likely tenanted out. The
places of residence for Thomas recorded in the documents, match the actual
residence of our Thomas in New York in 1776, and London in 1784, leaving
little doubt as to correct identity.
See Court of Session transcript.
In 1777 Thomas was summoned to appear in Court of Session, Edinburgh,
Scotland over a debt. The Court documents in the National Archives of
Scotland [ref - CS16.1.170]
are in too poor a condition to be copied. Only a copy of the summons was
available. See Court of Session summons.
may have got himself into trouble during the American War of Independence. If so
he must have traded in or moved to Newark, New Jersey at some stage, most likely
traded as all documents at this time have hime as a resident of NY. See
NJ Inquisition of Thomas Galbrath 1778. We also
see in the next para. that he fell foul of the American side. His
son's father-in-law, John Stites, suffered a similar fate whilst trying to do
business across the same military lines between New York & New Jersey during the Revolutionary War.
John Stites situation is recorded in his claims to the
British for compensation (see John Stites). Perhaps
was similarly involved?
Thomas was involved in a dispute before the Chamber of Commerce which
ruled in his favour. [See excerpt]
moved to London in 1779, as per his New York newspaper advertisement of 23 Oct 1779. See
It is possible that the prospect of an American victory, coupled
with the New Jersey troubles, scared Thomas into leaving? This can further be
deduced from a petition lodged by a T. Galbreath with
the Privy Council in London in 1783 where he claims to have been branded a spy
by the Americans. Thomas continued to do business in America after his move to
London with his son David, who stayed in New York until he also moved to
London in 1791. It looks like a couple of former customers took
advantage of their credit
:- NJ Supreme Court case re. Thomas & David Galbreath
The London Thomas :-
There is evidence of the Thomas Galbreath being in Islington, London from 1780
when he appears in the Islington rate books. The 1780 appearance in the
rates books coincides with his move from New York to London.
[Islington rate books]
There are two entries of the surname Galbreath (without any
further information as to first names or event) in the Islington
Lower Street Independent Church Register in 1781 & 1783. His grandson John was baptised in 1791 in the same
church, soon after Thomas's son David also moved to London from New York.
His occupation as a Merchant has been recorded in various document and
publications (The Scotland addresses subject to above comments**.) :-
- Port Glasgow Marriage 1758**.
- Paisley Lair Book 1762, **.
- New York 1771 - Son David's biography at the St. Andrew's Society of New York.
- Rivington's New York Gazetteer
- Probative Writ of 1777
- Royal Gazette 1779
- Bailey's British Directory or , Merchant's and Trader's Useful Companion 1784,
1790 - as Thomas Galbraith.
- Kent's Directory 1782, 83, 85, 86, 88.
- London Directory 1783 & 1785, Universal Directory 1791.
- Lowndes's London Directory 1782-7, 89, 90 incl as Thomas Galbraith.
- Holden's London Directory 1790 - as Thomas Galbraith.
- Warehouseman - London Directory 1795.
His addresses have been variously recorded as (The Scotland addresses subject to above comments**.)
Scotland - to 1781
- Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, Scotland (1756 Marriage)**
- Port Glasgow, Renfrewshire, Scotland (1757 Dau baptism)**
- Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland (1759-1766 children's baptisms)**.
- formerly of Glasgow, now of New York (Probative Writ of 1777)
New York - 1771 to 1780
His New York addresses are as found per his business. His residence may (or may
not) have been separate.
- Corner of Maiden Lane, facing the Fly Market, New York - (Rivington's New York Gazetteer
- 219 Queen St., New York - (Royal Gazette 1779)
London - 1780-1799
- Colebrook Row Islington, London - 1780 to 1782 (Islington Rate Books) 1784
- Britannia Row (off Lower St), Islington - 1783 to 1787 (Islington Rate
Lower St, Islington, London (Sun Fire Insurance policy 1786 on
Colebrook Row, Islington - "unfinished but intended for his
own occupation" )
- 5 Colebrook Row, Islington :- 1794 to 1799 (Islington Rate Book, Will
1798, Bunhill Fields Cemetery Burial Book 1799)
The following are his London business addresses, as distinct from his London
residential addresses as above :-
- 130 Wood St, London (London Directory 1783)
- 8 Bow Church Yard (London Directory 1788)
- 16 Bread St, Cheapside, London (Universal British Directory 1791)
- 57 Friday St, London, as Galbreath, Henderson & Co. (London
He is also recorded as subscribing to :-
"Poems, chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (3rd edn), Burns, Robert.
London." - as Thomas Galbraith
Thomas is shown in various partnerships in NY and London as evidenced in
newspaper reports and court documents. It appears that one partnership was
involved in weaving :
1794 - Records of the Sun Insurance Office :-
"Insured - Andrew Brown, William Sharp, John Burns, Thomas Galbreath, Colin
Sharp, James Henderson, John Sharp, 16 & 17 Bread St, Cheapside, gauze
[Guildhall Library - MS11936/397/624152]
Thomas was involved in at least three Court cases in relation to
his business dealings :-
1. Court of Common Pleas and Exchequer Chamber - 11 Feb 1789 - See
2. Court of Chancery - Miller v Galbreath (PRO ref. C12/191/17)
- Complainant's Pleadings 6 Nov 1793.
- Defendant's Answer 23 Nov 1793.
If this case proceeded to judgment further research will be required at the PRO
to access the decree or order.
The Complainant's pleadings suggest that Thomas and his co-defendants
had already instituted proceedings in the Court of the King's Bench in this matter.
Unfortunately to date the King's Bench records have not been catalogued individually
by the PRO.
3. Court of the Kings Bench - De Garron v Galbreath :-
- Report in the "The Times" 4 Jul 1795,
Thomas married his last wife Elizabeth Augusta CRAWFORD in
Reading in 4 Feb 1794. Marriage notification "The Times" 6
Feb 1794 :-
"On Tuesday last, at Reading, Thomas Galbreath Esq. of
Islington, to Miss Elizabeth Augusta Crawford"
The marriage Licence issued by the Faculty Office London on the
25 Jan 1794 gave his address as Islington, and that he was a widower. She was
shown as of Reading and a spinster.
They had at least one child - Augusta GALBREATH, born 21 March
1795 at Islington, London.
[baptism recorded in Dr. William's Library records].
He died on the 20th of May 1799 [London Gazette 18 Jun
1799], and was buried on 27 May 1799 in Bunhill
[see the Bunhill Fields Burial records & Monumental
His Last Will and Testament was proven in
the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in London on the 10 June 1799.
Wife Mary-Ann / Marion (McBeth?) was born about
1746. She was buried on 3 Jul 1786 in Bunhill Fields, London (shown as aged 40
yrs on tombstone).
The children listed below may not be strictly in order of age nor
necessarily all the children of wife Mary Ann, if indeed she was his
2nd wife. These are the children that can be definitely attributed to Thomas
through the Bunhill Fields Burial records & Monumental
Inscriptions, and his Will.
i. Margaret GALBREATH
- Married William SHARP
of Paisley in Islington St Mary, London on 24 Jul 1783. Possibly bapt 2 Dec 1757, Port
GALBREATH. Possibly baptised on the 18 Oct 1761 in the Paisley Low
Church. David died in 1812 in Gibraltar (adj. Spain).
iii. Thomas GALBREATH.
Possibly bapt 22 Jan 1766, Low Church,
Paisley. Thomas doesn't appear in his father's will, indicating that he had died
by 1799. However he is known to have existed as he appears as a witness,
"Thomas Galbreath jnr." in a deed of David Galbreath in New York in
If he is the Thomas baptised in Paisley he would have
been 18, of working age, and most likely working for David. (see David's pages via link above).
There is an interesting monumental inscription in the Paisley High Churchyard.
The age of this Thomas matches the baptism above :-
"129 - (Tomb Stone) Thos Galbraith 28.4.1793, 27, w. Marion Morrison
21.11.1806, 39; Walter Carswell manufacturer here d Newark on Trent on business
journey 27.2.1812, 42."
iv. James GALBREATH was born
on 13th Nov 1769. Baptised
Paisley Low Church on 16 Nov 1769 (Thomas Galbreath & Marion McBeth - With proviso that this is his correct baptism
entry) [Pailsey Low Church Register]. He
was buried on 7 May 1800 in Bunhill Fields, London aged 31 (Burial Register).
There are no baptismal records for Thomas' children born in New York.
As his wife continued to have children after they arrived in London it is
reasonable to presume that they had children during their 8 years stay in
New York. Only one possible child is know about from this period :-
William - born 1772 - see Hugh Simm letters mentioned
vi. Marian or Mary Ann GALBREATH was born about 1780. She
was buried on 24 May 1797 in Bunhill Fields, London. [Note - the burial book
records her as Marian, the tombstone inscription as Mary Ann].
vii. Elizabeth GALBREATH
born ca.1782/3 in St. Mary, Islington, London.
[Birth details - 1851 Census - HO/107/1498/f.142/p.39].
Named in Thomas's Will. Married James Fiddes of Great St. Helens, London in
1810. Beneficiary of her sister Catherine's will. Death details not known.
Also mentioned in letters [see David's
viii. Archibald GALBREATH was born on 14 Apr
1785. He died on 28 Jun 1785 in Islington, Middlesex and was
buried in 1785 in Bunhill Fields, London.
ix. John GALBREATH.
Named in Thomas's Will. No other details known.
x. Catherine GALBREATH.
Named in Thomas's Will. Born about 1774 (age 67 on death certificate).
She died on 23 April 1841 in Brighton, Sussex, apparently a spinster. See her Will.
Mentioned in letters of brother David and niece Cornelia [see David's
xi. Peter GALBREATH.
Named in Thomas's Will. No other details known.
xii. Elizabeth Augusta Crawford, born 21 March 1795
[baptism recorded in Dr. William's Library records].
She married Christopher Wearing on 11 January 1816, St Gregory, Parish of Saint Clement Danes, Westminster.
Possible further children if Thomas was from Paisley and previously married to Janet Russell
i. Jean GALBREATH bapt 30 Sep 1759, Low Church,
ii. Jean GALBREATH bapt 12 Feb 1764, Low Church,
Obviously the first Jean died before 1764. This leaves only one of the children baptized in
Paisley unaccounted for in documentation found so far, the 2nd Jean, in
order for Thomas to be definitely confirmed as the most likely for the Thomas of
Paisley. Given mortality rates in the 1700's this lack of documentation for the
2nd Jean is not unusual.