King James II of England (VI of Scotland), who came to the English throne when Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, declared the Irish province of Ulster escheated to the English crown when two leading Irish Catholic earls fled Ireland. He then conceived a scheme under which Protestant English and Scottish settlers were "planted" in Ulster and were granted most of the land in that province, ousting the Irish Catholic natives from their landholdings. This process, known as the Plantation, commenced in 1610.
There were a number of Galbraith lines in Donegal and elsewhere in Ulster in the early days of the Plantation. There was the line of James Galbraith of Balgair and his family, which I discuss further below. There was the line of Robert, 17th Galbraith Chief, who is reported to have gone to Ulster, probably Donegal, after he lost Culcreuch Castle in 1624. He had a number of sons. As Robert's affairs and financial situation deteriorated after 1600, some of those sons might have gone to Donegal before their father, at the same time as their father, or after their father had gone there. There were also the Galbraiths of Dunduffs Fort, who arrived early at an unknown date. And there were likely a number of Galbraiths of lesser social standing who were tenants of those who received land grants during the Plantation and who came from less well known Galbraith lines.
The 1630 Muster Roll of Donegal, which listed all the tenants of suitable age for military service (excluding those of higher social standing who had received land grants during the Plantation or were otherwise significant landholders), listed five Galbreaths, John, Alexander, Andrew, Martin, and William. One or more might have been sons of l ?" Chief Robert or they might have been less prominent and less well off Galbraith tenants on various land grants. The Donegal 1665 Hearth Money Roll, an early kind of real estate tax listing, gave the names of some other Galbraiths: Malcome Galbraith of Leek Parish; Thomas Galbraith of Lisnowall; Elspet Galbraith of Rateine; James Galbraith of Gortree; Ninian Galbraith of Creghadow; and Walter Galbraith of Mongavlin. Ninian, not a common Scottish given name, came into the Balgair Galbraith family when an earlier Galbraith married the daughter of Sir Ninian Seton in 1548. Was this 1665 Ninian Galbraith a descendant? Seventeenth Chief Robert had a natural son, one born out of wedlock, named Walter. In 1606 a Galbraith lady in Stirling, with whom Robert had placed this baby, brought suit against Robert for failure to pay for the baby's care. Was 1665 Walter Galbraith that natural son who had found his way to his cousins in Donegal? Or might he have been a natural son, born out of wedlock to one of the Donegal Galbraiths.
Elsewhere in Ulster other Galbraiths were to be found. Archibald Galbraith, son of John Galbraith, younger brother of James Galbraith of Balgair, moved to Mountcastle in County Tyrone. His son, John Galbraith, settled at Blessingbourne in Tyrone. Another John Galbraith, who is reported to have come to Ireland about the same time as the family of James Galbraith of Balgair, settled at Roscavy in Tyrone.
Although the relationship between James and John Galbraith of Balgair and their descendants is recognized, the relationship of other Galbraiths to each other is unknown.