From The Historian's Corner:

George Black’s History of the Family of Pollock

Perhaps the best known work on Scottish genealogy and family histories is “The Surnames of Scotland - Their Origin, Meaning and History” by Dr. George Fraser Black, first published in 1946. This book is a serious work of scholarship, over 800 pages long, written over a period of forty years. It lists over 8000 names and is thoroughly documented and referenced. It should be the first stop on any enquiry into the history of a Scottish family.

Dr. Black (1866-1948), was a noted bibliographer and historical scholar who had a 35 year career at the New York Public Library. To prepare this monumental work he combed through any ancient Scottish manuscripts and sources he could find to extract citations of families and historical figures, and compiled them all into this single reference. For those who have not seen it before, here is what he had to say about our family –

POLLOCK, POLLOK. Peter, son of Fulbert or Fulburt, had a grant of Upper Pollock in Renfrewshire from the High Steward, and took his surname from the lands. Between 1177-99 Peter gifted the church of Pulloc and its pertinents to the monastery of Paisley, a gift confirmed by Jocelyn, bishop of Glasgow (RMP., p.98, 99). Within the same dates he confirmed the charter of his brother Helias or Helyas of Perthic (now Partick) to the same house (ibid., p.98, 100). Peter de Pollok or Pulloc also possessed land in Moray, and c.1172-78 he witnessed the charter by William the Lion granting Burgin (now Burgie) to the Abbey of Kinlos (REM., p.454). He also appears among the witness to three other charters by King William in the same chartulary between 1187-99 (p.6, 9, 11). Robert, son of Fulbert, also appears as charter witness between 1165-99, but in no instance is he referred to as ‘de Polloc’ (RMP., p.6, 7, 12). In another charter of c. 1200 he appears simply as “Petrus fratre ejusdem.” [Peter brother of the same.] A daughter of Peter de Polloc, Muriel, Lady of Rothes, married probably about 1220 Walter Morthach, and had by him a daughter Eva Morthach, Lady of Rothes. Between 1224-42 Muriel de Polloc gifted her land at Inuerorkel with all its just pertinents for the benefit of the house or hospital erected beside the bridge of Spe (Spey) for the reception of travelers (REM., p.20). About 1242 or earlier Eva Morthach, domina de Rothes, confirmed the gift of the church at Rothes which her mother Muriel de Rothes had made to the church at Moray, c.1235 (ibid., p.123-4). Among the witnesses appear Robert de Pollok and Adam his son. Thomas de Polloc was witness to a document concerning the land of Cnoc in Renfrewshire, 1234 (RMP., p.180), and to other charters in the same record between 1234 and 1272. In the reign of Alexander II, Robert de Pollok, son or Robert, son of Fulbert, granted in pure alms to the monastery at Paisley twelve pennies yearly for the rents of his land of Pollok, for which he expected in return that he and his heirs be admitted to participation in the spiritual benefit arising from all the pious exercises of the Cluniac order (ibid., p.378). Peres de Pollok of Lanarkshire and John Pollok of Forfarshore rendered homage [Ragman Rolls], 1296 (Bain II, p.211, 212). John Pollok who was steward of the Abbey of Arbroath, 1299 (RAA., II, p.164) is John de Pollok, Sheriff of Forfar, who was sent with others from Aberdeen to Montrose in 1304 to arrest a vessel of the bishop of Aberdeen reported to be laden with rebel merchants’ goods and bring her to Aberdeen (Bain, II, p.439, 441). John Pullok, a Scottish merchant, had safe conduct into England, 1453 (Bain, IV, 1264). Peter de Pollok was one of the witnesses to sale of a tenement in Glasgow to Master Patrick Leiche, Canon of Glasgow, 1454 (REG., p.91). ‘Schir’ Thomas Pollok witnessed a sasine in 1478 (Home, 24), and John Pollike was a skinner in Edinburgh, 1678 (Edinb, Marr.).

The main line of the family of de Polloc disappeared in the War of Succession, “an era of remarkable changes of families and property.” The name has become Polk in the United States, the eleventh president of which was James Knox Polk, a great-great-grandson of Robert Polk or Pollok who emigrated from Ayrshire to the American colonies. The place name on Pont’s map of Renfrewshire is spelled Pook, and that is the pronunciation in common speech. Nile Pook was servitor to the Bishop of Aberdeen, 1549 (REA., I, p.435), Mariota Pook was wife of John Watsoun in Cannongait, Edinburgh, 1632 (Retours, Edinburgh, 694), and Isabella Pook was spouse of William Orrok in Edinburgh, 1648 (Inquis., 3455).

John F. Polk, Ph.D.
Historian
Clan Pollock International
First published in the August 2010 Pollag.