Family History


David Galbreath - born Paisley, 1761?

A paper on the following two David Galbreaths :-

1. David Galbreath of New York & London who married Cornelia Stites in 1785 from whom I am descended, referred to as "my" David below and

2. David Calbreath of Paisley who married Jean Whitehill in 1798 and appears to be the ancestors of several CGA (Clan Galbraith Assoc) & early CGA members (including Iva Boom) and member Ann Frondal.

Descendants of both David's consider that their David's parents were Thomas Galbreath & Janet Russell of Paisley. Only one can be correct.

Let us look at each David in turn.

"My" David Galbreath of New York & London.

The oral tradition in my family is that our Galbreaths were from Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland. This tradition survived through my New York / London family line in excess of 200 years. With this family lore regarding Paisley, it is natural to look to a David Galbreath baptised 18 Oct 1761 in Paisley Low Church, son of Thomas Galbreath & Janet Russell.

We know that my David, of New York (1771 -1791), & London (1791-1812), was the son of a Thomas Galbreath. There is ample evidence of this:
- Thomas's Will of 1799 (London PCC 1799 PROB 11/ 1325).
- David was a witness to his sister's Margaret's marriage in London in 1783.
- They used the same non-conformist cemetery, Bunhill Fields, London in late 1700's.
- Letters from David's daughter Cornelia to her brother John, in 1834 & 1835, confirming family relationships.
- New York newspaper items, 1779 confirming father son relationship, and 1779 & 1791 confirming their respective departures for England.
- Scottish naming patterns: Unfortunately only baptisms for David's first three children have been found - Susannah 1787, Thomas 1789, and John 1791. These match the Scottish naming patterns, first son Thomas after his father, Susannah & John being wife Cornelia's parents. A second daughter would have been named after David's mother, however the daughter's name is not known. That a further three children were born between 1797& 1800 are known from other records, however this leaves a gap from 1791-1797 where no doubt more children would have been born. If they had a second daughter named Janet in line with naming patterns then she would be in this missing period.

We have tracked "my" David's father Thomas back from London (1779-1799) and New York (1771-1779) to Glasgow (1769). The earliest definite document I have for Thomas is a Probative Writ from the Glasgow Archives, dated 1777, confirming that Thomas, Merchant of New York, was formerly of Glasgow. There are no other records for him in Glasgow suggesting only a short stay there before going to New York in 1771.

A connection for Thomas from Glasgow back to Paisley pre 1771, now needs to be established. There is some evidence that Thomas was originally from Paisley:
- My family "lore".
- The marriage entry of Thomas G. of Kilbarchan and Janet Russell of Paisley confirms that this Thomas was a Merchant (Port Glasgow Marriage Register 1756), as was "my" Thomas who ended up in London, via Glasgow & NY.
- The first two of the children named in Thomas's will, Margaret and David, match baptisms of the first daughter and son of Thomas G. & Janet Russell of Paisley, and were possibly the surviving children of that marriage at the time of the will was made in 1799. This is significant when considering Scottish naming patterns as outlined further below.
- Margaret the daughter of my Thomas of London & NY, married a Paisley man William Sharp(e) in London where her father was then living, confirming the Paisley connections. It is interesting to note that Margaret's first two children were named Thomas & Janet as per naming traditions thus reinforcing the argument that they are the parents of Margaret & her brother, my David.
- Thomas of London had a wife Mary Ann/Marian (recorded as both, no doubt sounding the same to London ears), and had a son James born circa 1769 (burial age). A Thomas Galbreath & wife Marian McBeth had a son baptised in Paisley Low church in 1769. This baptism would indicate the Paisley Thomas's wife Janet Russell had died (we do not find births to her after 1766), and Thomas had subsequently married Marian (McBeth). The lack of further baptisms would indicate either Marian's death or a move, a move matching up with the Thomas in Glasgow who subsequently went to New York and then London, and had a son James born ca. 1769, as detailed above.

David Galbreath & Jean Whitehill of Paisley

The other David is one who first appears in the Paisley records marrying Jean Whitehill on 27 July 1798 in Abbey Church, Paisley. I should point out here that although the LDS IGI/OPR has his surname as Galbreath, it is actually written Calbreath in the original Church Register. I have a copy of the actual entry in the Parish Register:

In light of the naming patterns below, and also the actual marriage entry giving David's name as Calbreath, it is interesting to note that there is a David Calbreath baptised on 31 May 1745 in Dalrymple, Ayr, with properly matching parents, William and Agnes. Dalrymple is about 20 miles from Paisley.

David G. & Jean Whitehill had children: Agnes 1799, Janet 1801, Jean 1802, William 1804, Alexander 1807, Jean 1809, David 1812, Rebekah 1815, and James 1818 - Note there is no child named Thomas.

Let's look at their children's names in relation to traditional Scottish naming patterns. The first option in the table below is the 'standard' however it could and often did swap around as indicated.

David Galbreath or Calbreath and Jean Whitehill children and the matches with regard to Scottish naming patterns if David's parents were William & Agnes of Dalrymple and that Jean Whitehill's parents were Alexander & Janet :-

Traditional Scottish naming patterns

Their children were

Naming match




1st son after the father of the husband


see below

2nd son after the father of the wife


yes -Alexander

1st daughter after mother of the wife


Janet –see below

2nd daughter after the mother of the husband


see below

3rd son after the husband


yes - David

3rd daughter after the wife


yes - Jean

As we can see the naming patterns are slightly out of the strict naming pattern, they still match the often used variables to this pattern. Therefore we can assume that David & Jean had the traditional naming patterns in mind, and that there is sufficient conformance in the naming patterns to assume that this David's parents should be named William and Agnes, not Thomas nor Janet. Even more importantly, there is no child Thomas, strongly suggesting no father or grandfather of that name.

Even if the baptism of a David in Dalrymple in 1745 is incorrect, (it could be a bit early), it is still logical from the names of their first 6 children, to suppose that David (husband of Jean Whitehill) parent's names were William and Agnes, not Thomas & Janet as claimed in other pedigrees. In particular, several pedigrees submitted to the LDS Pedigree Resource Files.

I can find no evidence confirming the age of the David Calbreath of the Whitehill marriage. No burials or death records for this David are mentioned in any of the pedigrees, nor have I found any other types of evidence mentioned that confirm his parentage.

In conclusion.

I have yet to find any other evidence that David, spouse of Jean Whitehill, is the son of Thomas and Janet of Paisley, apart from a convenient baptism in the same town. It should also be noted that David, spouse of Jean Whitehill, used Paisley Abbey Church, not Paisley Low Church as Thomas Galbreath & Janet Russell did. This is more important than it seems at first glance. Abbey is more likely Conservative or Establishment, while Low is certainly evangelical or protestant non-conformist. It is unlikely that father and son would have used disparate churches. Of note is that my Thomas and David in London used the Islington Lower Street Independent Church, matching the type of church used by the Thomas G. of Paisley.

Scottish Parish Church Registers on the IGI and Old Parish Registers Index are far from complete, especially before 1800, as Bill Gilbreath the Clan Galbraith Genealogist has found. To use just the IGI & OPR to construct pedigrees must be considered provisional and unproven until other supporting evidence is discovered to fill these gaps in the church registers.

I believe there is enough evidence from a number of sources to say that "my" David is the true son of Thomas G and Janet Russell, and not the parents of David Calbreath, spouse of Jean Whitehill. I would be interested in hearing from anyone descended from David Galbreath and Jean Whitehill or connected to that area. Particularly with any evidence concerning David's age or parentage.

Return to David GALBREATH



Copyright Simon
Please acknowledge me if you use info from my web pages, or email me for permission to reproduce (normally given) :-