This extraordinary surname is found in several equally extraordinary spellings. These include Coldbath, Coldbathe, Calbaithe, Coldbreath, and Galbreath. But however spelt the origins are the same, they all derive from the Olde English and Gaelic 'gals-bhreatnaich', meaning 'the Briton amongst the Gaels'. The most usual spelling is 'Galbraith', and this is the form most commonly found in its 'homeland' of Scotland, where the nameholders are known collectively as 'Clann a' Bhreatannaich'. Quite how the surname originated is not known, but it can be assumed that the original nameholders may well have fled the Vikings in the 8th century who first landed in the Isle of Man, but who then attacked the ancient Kingdom of Strathclyde, in what is now South West Scotland. This area was people by 'Britons', and survivors probably moved east. The name recordings are early and include Hugh de Galbrath, provost of Aberdeen in 1342 and Sir George Calbrathe in Angus in 1494. The name was recorded as Galbracht (1528), Cobreath (1649) and Calbreath in 1685 (all Scotland), whilst in 1715 William Colbathe is recorded in London at the church of St Botolphs without Aldgate, and in 1753 in yet another twist of spelling John Coldbreath appears in the register of Christ Church, Stepney, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gillescop Galbrath, which was dated 1208, in the register of the lands of Campsie, during the reign of King William the Lyon, of Scotland, 1165 - 1214. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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