Clan Pollock

Pollock General History

The name of Pollock (Pulloc, Pollok) is among the oldest family names in Scotland. The surname was adopted from the ancient lands of Pulloc in Renfrewshire.

The main branch of the family descends from a progenitor named Fulbert whose three sons Peter, Robert and Helya (Elias) came to Scotland in the 12th century as followers of Walter fitzAlan the first High Steward of Scotland and founder of the royal Stewart line. Little is known of Fulbert from Scottish records but there a strong likelihood that he was a Norman of significant standing in England. His sons clearly earned Walter fitzAlan’s trust, probably from their military service and the family’s proven loyalty. Walter accordingly granted them extensive land holdings not just in Renfrewshire, but in East Lothian and in Moray, as part of the implementation of the Norman feudal system being introduced into Scotland under King David I.

Helya was a priest and canon at Glasgow Cathedral, and was granted the prebend of Partick. Peter used the title Peter de Polloc and held the lands both of Nether Pollok in Renfrewshire and of Rothes in Moray but had no male heirs. His daughter Muriel (Mauricle) married Walter of Mordach and the lands of Rothes passed to him and in later generations to the powerful family of Leslie. The lands of Nether Pollock passed to Roland of Mearns and then by marriage into the Maxwell family of Caerlaverock.

Robert held lands both in Stenton in East Lothian and in Upper or Over Pollok in Renfrewshire. He became the founder of the main line of the family known as Pollok of Pollok or Pollok of that Ilk. His daughter Isobel married William Wallace, possibly an ancestor of the famous military leader, by which the lands of Stenton passed into the Wallace family. The lands in Upper Pollok passed down through Robert’s successors and remained in the family into the 20th century.

The lineage of the family of Pollock-of-that-Ilk in Scotland was recorded by George Crawfurd in his "General Description of the Shire of Renfrew, Including an Account of the Noble and Ancient Families," first published in 1710. John Pollok, 9th of That Ilk, as town Baillie, signed the Charter of St. Andrews University in 1453, the oldest university in Scotland. John Pollock, fourteenth in descent from Fulbert fought with the forces of Mary, Queen of Scots, at Langside, only a few miles from Pollok Castle. For his role in her losing cause, he forfeited some of his lands. On 30 November 1703, Sir Robert Pollock-of-that-Ilk was knighted and made Baronet of Nova Scotia by Queen Anne for his services to the crown, with a "recital of the antiquity and flourishing condition of the ancient family of Pollock-of that-Ilk, for 600 years." Other notable Pollocks in Great Britain were The Rt. Hon. Sir Jonathan Frederick Pollock, Bart., Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer; Field Marshall Sir David Pollock, Bart.; Sir David Pollock, Lord Chief Justice of Bombay; Sir Frederick Pollock, Bart., famous barrister and codifier of English Law; Robert Pollock, scholar and author of the once widely read epic poem "The Course of Time;" and John Pollock, official biographer of The Reverend Billy Graham and author of many books, including "The Apostle" and "The Master."

With the passage of time, other forms of the Pollok surname such as Polk, Pollock and Pogue became common. Thomas Pollock, born at Balgray, Renfrewshire, Scotland in 1654, was a prominent official in colonial North Carolina, serving as its acting Governor when he died in 1722. Robert Polke/Pollock emigrated from Donegal Ireland to Maryland around 1687 and was progenitor to a great number of persons now using the name in both forms, Polk and Pollock. Prominent among these were Governor Charles Polk of Delaware and Governor/Senator Trusten Polk of Missouri.

Many members of the Pollock family joined the great wave of Scotch-Irish immigration from Ulster in the 18th century. Prominent among these was William Polk, the ancestor of James K. Polk, 11th President of the United States, and of Bishop and General Leonidas Polk of Civil War fame, and Colonel Thomas Polk of Charlotte, North Carolina, who convened the meeting at which Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, declared its independence of Great Britain in May 1775. Oliver Pollock of Bready, County Tyrone settled with his father at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, but started a trading business out of Philadelphia and became a highly successful international merchant. He played a key role in securing Spain’s support for the American cause during the Revolution and was known as the "financier of the American Revolution in the West." He is also credited with the creation of the US dollar sign ($). Other notables were James Pollock, 13th Governor of Pennsylvania and Leonidas Lafayette Polk, national leader of the powerful Farmer’s Alliance and the expected presidential nominee of the People’s Party when he died suddenly in May 1892. Frank Lyon Polk was the acting Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson and his emissary to the Paris Peace Conference after World War I. General James H. Polk was one of General George Patton’s front line regimental commanders in WW II, and became the commanding general of the U S Forces in Europe during the height of the cold war, 1967-1971. George W. Polk was a foreign correspondent working for Edward R. Morrow at CBS when he was assassinated on assignment in Greece in 1948. The prestigious annual George Polk journalism awards are named in his honor.

Today there is no Pollock of that Ilk recognized as the hereditary head of the family. The last in the direct male line of descent from Fulbert was Sir Robert Pollok, 18th of that Ilk and 2nd Baronet, who died in 1783. The title passed through his granddaughter Robina to her son Sir Robert Crawfurd-Pollok and by collateral descent to James Fergusson-Pollok whose nephew Robert Hew Fergusson-Pollok inherited the title in 1950 but had no successor. The title has been vacant since his death in 1967.

Pollok Castle, in its last configuration, was a magnificent structure, built in the style of a British manor house. The castle was used as a military storage facility during World War II but was demolished in 1954 and the lands were sold by the last inheritor. For the first time in eight centuries the lands of Upper Pollock were no longer Pollok lands.
Nothing of the old Pollok estate remains except the two gate houses, the stable, and the gardener's cottage (all are presently occupied), the castle stone foundation, the south entrance steps and a few stones that once formed the castle's massive walls. One of those stones, cut and polished, is imbedded in the Scottish Memorial Cairn in North Carolina. The cairn was dedicated in 1980 at the site of the annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, near Linville, North Carolina.

Clan Pollock International was incorporated in 1980 and is recognized as the representative of the family by the Council of Scottish Clans and Associations (COSCA). It has adopted its own tartan and registered it with the Scottish Tartan Society in Scotland. The clan badge portrays a boar pierced by an arrow, with the motto Audacter et Strenue (Boldly and Strongly).

If you would like more information about Clan Pollock International or have other questions, please contact Clan Historian, John Polk, at