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The name of Pollock (Pollok) is among the oldest family names in Scotland. The surname was adopted from the ancient lands of Pollock in Renfrewshire. Records of the 12th century reveal these lands were held by the sons of Fulbert, progenitor of the Pollocks of Scotland. Fulbert's son. Petrus, who inherited the lands of Pollock from his father in 1163, was the first person to use Pollock as a surname. One surviving document charters the lands to Petrus through Walter Fitz-Alan, High Steward of Scotland and the progenitor of the Royal Stewart line. The lands then passed to Robertus, brother of Petrus, when Petrus had no male heir.
The main line of Pollock descent is from Robertus, who was a witness to the founding of Paisley Abbey in 1160, being described as "Roberto filio Fulberti." Between 1189 and 1199 he granted the Church of Mearns to the Monastery of Paisley. The original church building no longer stands. The location for the present church of Mearns is at the intersection of Eaglesham Road and Mearns Road. Many prominent Pollocks are buried in the adjoining cemetery and within the walls of the church.
The lands were divided into Upper and Lower Pollock. The Pollocks retained upper Pollock while Lower Pollock was chartered to the Maxwell's. The Maxwell's of Pollock became a prominent branch of that powerful border clan. A common alliance was formed between the Maxwell's and the Pollocks. Marriages took place between members of the two families. Today, Pollocks continue to be recognized as septs of Clan Maxwell and may correctly wear the Maxwell tartan.
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.
With the passage of time, changes occurred to the Pollock surname. For some descendants of Scottish Pollock it became Polk and Pogue, spelled in various ways. Capt. Robert Bruce Pollok emigrated from Donegal Ireland to Maryland around 1680 and was the progenitor of a great number of persons now using the name Polk and Pollock. Prominent among his American descendants were James K. Polk, 11th President of the United states. Spellings of the name include Pollock, Pollok, Pook, Polk, Polke, Paulk, Poalk, Poalke, Poulk, Pogue, Poage
Today there is no Pollock of that Ilk recognized as the hereditary chief of the clan. The last Pollock chief recognized by the Crown was in 1845. The clan badge portrays a boar pierced by an arrow and the motto, "Audacter et Strenue" - Boldly and Strongly. In 1980, Clan Pollock adopted its own tartan and registered it with the Scottish Tartan Society in Scotland. Pollock Castle, in its last configuration, was a magnificent structure. Built in the style of a British manor house, the castle was demolished in 1954 and the lands were sold. For the first time in eight centuries the lands of Upper Pollock were no longer Pollock lands.
Nothing of the old Pollock 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.
Maccus Well, a pool in the River Tweed by Kelso, is claimed as the origin for this name. Maccus was believed to be a Norse chief who lived in the reign of David I. Sir John Maxwell, Chamberlain of Scotland, died without issue and was succeeded by his brother, Aymer, from whose sons sprang many branches of this family throughout the southwest of Scotland.
Sir Herbert Maxwell swore fealty to Edward I of England in the ragman Roll of 1296. His son, Eustace, held Caerlaverock Castle as a vassal of the English, but later followed Robert the Bruce to Bannockburn in 1314. His descendent, another Sir Herbert, was created Lord Maxwell around 1440, taking his seat as Lord of Parliament. From his second son descended the Maxwells of Monrieth, who were later to be created baronets in 1681. The fifth Lord intrigued with Henry VII of England, although by 1542 James V had appointed him warden of the marches. Maxwell was captured at the Battle of Solway Moss in the same year.
John, the seventh Lord, remained a devout Catholic throughout the Reformation, and his name was linked with a number of plots to restore Mary, Queen of Scots to her throne. After Mary's execution in England in 1687 and the defeat of the Spanish Armada the following year, Lord Maxwell continued to correspond with Philip of Spain, seeking support for a Catholic revolution. Maxwell was killed in 1593 during a feud between his family and the Johnstons, near Lockerbie. The feud continued, however, and the next Lord Maxwell shot Sir James Johnston, who was attempting to reconcile the two warring factions.
His brother, Robert, succeeded to the Maxwell title and additionally was created Earl of Nithsdale. His descendent, the fifth Earl of Nithsdale, was a staunch Jacobite who was captured at the Battle of Preston during the ill-fated rising of 1715. He was taken to London, tried and sentenced to death for treason. On the eve of his execution, with the assistance of his wife, he escaped from the Tower of London, disguised as a serving woman. The couple fled to Rome where the Earl died in 1744.
A number of the cadet branches rose to prominence in their own right, including the Maxwells of Cardoness, Monreith, Sprinkel and Pollok, each achieving the rank of baronet. Pollok House, the seat of the Maxwell Baronets of Pollok, was gifted to the city of Glasgow in 1967; in its grounds is the world-famous Burrell Collection of art.
James Clerk Maxwell, born in Edinburgh in 1831, was a physicist who made a fundamental contribution to this branch of science through his formulation of electromagnetic theory. Gavin Maxwell, the Scottish author and naturalist who died in 1969, was the youngest son of Sir Herbert Maxwell who descended from the Maxwells of Monreith.
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