The surname of GILBREATH was originally derived from the Gaelic 'Gall-Bhrealnach' a name meaning a stranger, a Briton, a name given to settlers in Ireland, and Scotland. The use of fixed surnames or descriptive names appears to have commenced in France about the year 1000, and such names were introduced into Scotland through the Normans a little over one hundred years later, although the custom of using them was by no means common for many years afterwards. During the reign of Malcolm Ceannmor (1057-1093) the latter directed his chief subjects, after the custom of other nations, to adopt surnames from their territorial possessions, and there created 'The first erlis that euir was in Scotland'. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. Early records of the name mention Gillescop Galbrath, who witnessed the gift of Maldown, son of Alwin, earl of Levanax of the church of Kamsi, to God in 1208. Maldouen, the earl in 1238, granted to William, son of Arthur, son of Gillescop Galbrath three carucates (originally an amount of land such as one team of oxen could plough in a season) of land in Lennox. Hugh de Galbrath was the provost of Aberdeen in the year 1342. The name is also spelt Galbreath and Calbraith. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered at Culcreuch, County Dunbarton. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
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