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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: German, Scottish

Where did the Scottish Polk family come from? What is the Scottish Polk family crest and coat of arms? When did the Polk family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Polk family history?

Among the the peoples of ancient Scotland, the first to use the name Polk were the Strathclyde- Britons. Polk was a name for someone who lived at Pollok (Gaelic:Pollag), a large district on the south-western side of the city of Glasgow, home to Crookston Castle, where Mary, Queen of Scots, was once held. The name of the town has Gaelic origins, from the word 'poll', meaning "pool" or "pit".


Medieval Scottish names are rife with spelling variations. This is due to the fact that scribes in that era spelled according to the sound of words, rather than any set of rules. Polk has been spelled Pollock, Pollocke, Polk, Polke, Pollok, Pollick, Polloch, Pook, Pooke, Poock, Pogue, Poag, Poage, Poague, Poak and many more.

First found in Renfrewshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Rinn Frił), a historic county of Scotland, today encompassing the Council Areas of Renfrew, East Renfrewshire, and Iverclyde, in the Strathclyde region of southwestern Scotland, where the first occurrence of the name is Peter, son of Fulbert or Fulburt who was granted the lands of Upper Pollock by the High Steward, and who took the surname from the lands, making him the first Pollock. Peter gave the church of Pulloc and its pertinents to the monastery of Paisley, sometime between 1177 and 1199. Within that same period of time, he also confirmed the charter of his brother Helias of Perthic to the same house. Peter also possessed lands in Moray and circa 1175, he witnessed the charter by William the Lion granting Burgin to the Abbey of Kinlos. Circa 1230, Murial de Polloc, a daughter of Peter, gifted her land of Inuerorkel and all its pertinents for the benefit of the hospital erected beside the bridge of Spey for the reception of travelers. Continuing this pattern of generosity, Robert de Pollok granted to the monastery of Paisley, during the reign of Alexander II, alms of twelve pennies a year from the rents he earned from his lands. Other important Pollocks include John Pollok who was both steward of the Abbey of Arbroath and sheriff of Forfar.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Polk research. Another 300 words (21 lines of text) covering the years 1234, 1272, 1590, 1603, and 1827 are included under the topic Early Polk History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Polk Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Polk family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 300 words (21 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Many Scots were left with few options other than to leave their homeland for the colonies across the Atlantic. Some of these families fought to defend their newfound freedom in the American War of Independence. Others went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of all of these families have recently been able to rediscover their roots through Clan societies and other Scottish organizations. Among them:

Polk Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Robert Polk, who settled in Maryland between the years 1672 and 1680

Polk Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Alexander Polk, who came to Delaware in 1813
  • N. Polk, who arrived in San Francisco in 1850

Polk Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • David Peale Polk, aged 25, who emigrated to the United States, in 1905
  • Amy Polk, aged 57, who emigrated to the United States, in 1907
  • Christine Polk, aged 43, who landed in America, in 1913
  • Anne Polk, aged 51, who settled in America from Watchet, England, in 1919
  • Anna Polk, who landed in America, in 1922


  • Louis Frederick Polk Sc.D., American Industrialist, Banker and Investor
  • James R Polk, American Journalist
  • George Polk (1913-1948), American journalist for CBS murdered in Greece
  • Oscar Polk (1899-1949), American actor who starred in Gone with the Wind
  • Albert Fawcett Polk, American lawyer and United States representative from Delaware
  • Willis Polk (1867-1924), American architect most well known for his work in San Francisco, California
  • Leonidas Polk (1806-1864), American soldier, who was made a major-general in the Civil War
  • President James Knox Polk (1795-1849), American politician from North Carolina, who was the 11th president of the U.S.A.
  • James G Polk (1896-1959), United States representative from Ohio


  • The Genealogical Study of David Reese: with Allied Families: Polk et al. by Cynthia Jones Reese.
  • The Seed of Sally Good'n: a Black Family of Arkansas (also Polk family), 1833-1953 by Ruth Polk Patterson.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Audacter et strenue
Motto Translation: Boldly and earnestly.


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  1. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  2. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  3. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  4. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  5. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  6. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  7. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. The Charters of David I The Written Acts of David I King of Scots, 1124-53 and of His Son Henry, Earl of Northumerland, 1139-52. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1999. Print.
  8. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  9. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  10. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Polk Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Polk Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 4 May 2015 at 09:46.

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