The 1718 Immigrants



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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!




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