Literally this means in English, 'British foreigner'. It denotes the P-Celtic-speaking Britons, or 'Southern Picts', who occupied Strathclyde in south-western Scotland. Its capital had been Dumbarton, the impregnable rock fortress called "Fortress of the Britons" in Gaelic. Strathclyde became a part of Scotland in 1124AD, and the first Galbraith Chief appeared, in circumstances that indicate he was the equal to the royal house of Lennox.
His name was Gilchrist Brydon (Brethnach in Gaelic) , and he married a daughter of Alwyn Og, son of Moireahh (Muirdhach in Gaelic), first Earl of Lennox in the new order. Their son, 2nd Chief, Gillespic, was father of a 3rd Chief, who bore the suggestive name of Arthur. The family stronghold stood at Inchgalbraith. Arthur's son, William, 4th Chief, moved into the centre of the national stage when he became on of the co-regents of Scotland.
Sir William died shortly after the outbreak of the Scottish wars of independence, but his son, Sir Arthur, supported Bruce and outlived the victory at Bannockburn. Thereafter, the fortunes of the Galbraith varied with those of the house of Lennox. James, the 9th Chief, was the first from Gilcreuch in Strathendrick, a cadet branch until then.
It was at that time that James I returned from his 18 year captivity in England, and killed off his own Stewart relatives. First among them was the ducal family of Albany and their Lennox kinsmen. James of Gilcreuch was said to have helped the Lennoxes sack Dumbarton in 1425, and had to flee west to Kintyre with 600 Galbraiths to escape the King's wrath.
After James III had been murdered in 1488, Thomas the 12th Chief, took up arms with Lennox against the royalists. But these possessed the person of the young King, and after the defeat of Talla Moss, Thomas was hanged in 1489. His brother escaped and received the estates n the general remission which followed. Andrew, the 14th Chief, once again joined Lennox in 1526, when he attempted to rescue the young King James V from the Douglases.
Lennox was captured and killed, but the King remained grateful. The long association between the houses of Galbraith and Lennox was culminated when the James, the 16th clan Galbraith Chief, administered the vast Lennox estates. Robert, the 17th Chief, was an unscrupulous rogue who brought disaster upon his house, in which ironically, the proscribed Clan Gregor played a part. In 1592, he was given a Royal Commission to pursue the Clan Gregor, and he misused his powers to persecute the Chief of MacAulay, who had married Robert's widowed mother (against his wishes).
Due to this and other criminal acts, Robert was denounced as a rebel, and in 1622, fled to Ireland where he died before 1642. His son and heir inherited nothing, and his grandson, James the 19th Chief, is the last traceable one of his line. A generation after the sack of Dumbarton, a member of the family of hereditary Galbraith harpers in the island of Gigha, composed the poems that survive in the Book of the MacGregor Dean of Linsmore. This ancient tradition is carried on by the Gaelic singer, Carol Galbraith.