John & Susan Howell
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First Name:

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Capt. Robert Polk[1, 2]

Male Abt 1625 - 1703  (~ 78 years)

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  • Name Robert Polk  [3, 4
    Prefix Capt. 
    Birth Abt 1625  Donegal, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Appears on a list of loyal subjects of Somerset Co., MD who addressed a letter to King William and Queen Mary.  [3
    Immigrated 1672  America Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Award Between 1687 and 1742  [3
    land grants on the Eastern shore of Maryland from the Lords Baltimore 
    Occupation Captain in regiment of Colonel Tasker, and a part of the Parlimentary forces under Cromwell  [3
    Death Apr 1703  Somerset, MD Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Will 5 Jun 1704  Annapolis, MD Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Person ID I733  Main
    Last Modified 16 Mar 2017 

    Father Robert Bruce Pollock,   b. 1606, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this locationd. Yes, date unknown 
    Mother Annabel Stewart,   b. 1618, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this locationd. Yes, date unknown 
    Family ID F328  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Magdalen Tasker,   b. 1637, Donegal, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this locationd. 1726, Somerset County, MD Find all individuals with events at this location (Age 89 years) 
    Marriage Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    +1. William B. Polk,   b. 1662, Donegal County, (near) Coleraine, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this locationd. 1740, Whitehall, Somerset, MD Find all individuals with events at this location (Age 78 years)
     2. David Polk,   b. Abt 1666, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this locationd. Yes, date unknown
     3. Anne Polk,   b. 1669, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this locationd. Yes, date unknown
     4. Ephraim Polk,   b. 1671   d. Yes, date unknown
     5. Robert Bruce Polk,   b. 1672, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this locationd. Yes, date unknown
     6. James Polk,   b. 1673   d. Yes, date unknown
     7. John Polk,   b. 1675   d. 1707 (Age 32 years)
     8. Martha Polk,   b. 1679   d. Yes, date unknown
     9. Joseph Polk,   b. 1681   d. Yes, date unknown
    Family ID F327  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 30 Sep 2009 

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBirth - Abt 1625 - Donegal, Ireland Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsImmigrated - 1672 - America Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDeath - Apr 1703 - Somerset, MD Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsWill - 5 Jun 1704 - Annapolis, MD Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarriage - - Ireland Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Notes 
    • There were a total of 9 children according to Angellotti.

      The (extensive) notes below by Bill Polk, Kansas City, MO., family researcher, dated 30 Nov 1998:

      The ancestry of Robert Bruce Polk of Maryland as given in my database was derived by researching multiple sources, some of which conflict with each other. Comparing the best-known genealogies on the Polk family that have the ancestry of Robert Bruce Polk included in them (notably, "Polk Family and Kinsmen," 1912, William Harrison Polk; and "Pedigree of the Pollok or Polk Family from Fulbert the Saxon (A. D. 1075) to the Present Time," Mary Winder Garrett, published in several issues of "The American Historical Magazine," 1896-1899; and many other genealogies which basically use the genealogy as provided in the two cited above) with other sources [Burke's Peerage, History of Renfrewshire, Burke's Presidential Families, Pogue/Pollock/Polk Genealogy as Mirrored in History (see database for full titles and other information about these publications and other sources used] reveals (in the opinion of this researcher) that the ancestral line of Robert Bruce Polk of Maryland, as given by the two above mentioned family writers is not complete or entirely correct. There is still research needed in Ireland to tie together the Scottish branch with the Irish branch (this part of the family line is, in fact, unproven, but as "Burke's Presidents," 1981, lineage of President James K. Polk, puts it, "highly probable"). I submit that the ancestry of Robert Bruce Polk as provided in this database is highly probable, not "proven." It may be impossible to "prove" the Polk lineage to normal and modern genealolgical standards for the ancestry in Scotland for the years before the mid to late 1500s, and perhaps even later. One may just have to accept the previous work of researchers like Crawfurd, Burke and others for the Scottish Polk lineage. I have no problem accepting the Scottish ancestry of the Polks. The ancestry for the Irish branch of the Polks may also be hard to "prove" due to scarcity of records. I find the Irish part of the ancestry, that is the existence of a Sir Robert Pollok/Pollock/Polk I and II, particularly difficult for me to accept and/or believe. I invite other family researchers who have done research on Robert Bruce Polk's ancestry to poke and prod and question and come up with their own version of the Polk ancestry; then let's compare and come up with an even better version. See NOTE at the end of all text.

      Much of the following information is taken from "Polk Family and Kinsmen," William Harrison Polk, 1912, [see master sources for complete citation]. I have many questions about some of the data below and the ancestry of Robert Polk and his wife Magdalen.

      I have supplemented the W. H. Polk data below with material from other sources and and with my own opinion as to events, dates, places, etc.:

      Robert (Pollok) Polk and his family probably came to America from Northern Ireland sometime between 1672 and 1680. However, their arrival may have been earlier. Quoting William M. Polk in his 1893 biography, "Leonidas Polk Bishop and General," pg. 3, referring to Robert Pollock: "On the death of Cromwell and the accession of the second Charles, Robert Pollock resolved to emigrate with his wife and family to the American plantations. It 1659 he took ship at Londonderry, and after a stormy voyage, during which one of his children died, he landed on the Eastern Shore of Maryland......" It is probable that the family left Ireland to escape religious persecution (Robert was a Covenanter) and for the opportunities the new land afforded to practice their religion and build a home. Thomas, Robert's elder brother, inherited the family estate in Ireland, and the opportunity to secure land of his own in the colonies must have been factored into the decision to leave Ireland.

      Robert Pollok, the ancestor who settled in Maryland, and the second son of Sir Robert II of Ireland, was a captain in Colonel Porter's Regiment, which served in the parliamentary forces under Oliver Cromwell, a member of the British Parliament who sympathized with the Independents or Separatists. These Separatists, an independent group which developed within the Puritans (the Puritans wanted to "purify," rather than separate from the Church of England), did not favor a central church government. When Parliament met in 1640, it refused to grant King Charles I any funds unless he agreed to limit his power. Charles I refused to do so, and civil war broke out in 1642. Cromwell's military forces defeated Charles I, ending the war. Cromwell, with reluctance, finally agreed to the execution of the King and he was one of the signers of the death warrant which was executed on 30 Jan., 1649. In 1656, Parliament offered Cromwell the title of King, which he refused. Although he professed to be against absolutism, he ruled almost as absolutely as Charles I had ruled. Cromwell died in 1658, and eventually persecution of protestants became the norm in Ireland, causing many to flee to America.

      Colonel Porter was married to Magdalen Tasker for a short time. After Colonel Porter's death, Robert Pollok married the young widow. It has been said that the Porter family, who had strong connections in the government of Ireland, threatened Robert Pollok and took most of "Moneen," the property Magdalen had inherited from her father, Col. Rogert Tasker. However, the Porters, if they acquired any of "Moneen" at all, certainly did not get it all as Magdalen left "Moneen" to her youngest son Joseph at her death.

      After the death of Cromwell and the accession of Charles II in 1660 (who was heavily Roman Catholic in his sympathies) there began a long period of difficulty, danger, and martyrdom for the Covenanters. Vindictive measures were instituted by Charles against all those who had been leading actors in the drama that brought the head of his father, Charles I, to the block. Many of the "Regicides," as were termed those who had been active in bringing about the death of Charles I, in order to escape the wrath of his son, fled to foreign parts, many coming to America and changing their names in order to conceal their identity. The new parliament of 1661 consisted mostly of high churchmen and royalists. It restored ancient oppressive laws and instituted efficient measures to prevent even the smallest degree of toleration to all who refused conformance with the liturgy of the court. This state of unrest continued throughout the reign of Charles II, and in 1679 drove the people of Scotland into rebellion.

      During the reign of Charles II, the American colonies received their greatest accessions of population. Thousands who had become weary of Charles' oppressions turned their faces to the New World, hoping that by going beyond the Atlantic they could find some respite from the exactions of kingly power. Charles II died on 6 Feb., 1685, and was succeeded by James II. James proved to be a most arbitrary and unpopular monarch, both at home and in the British colonies. By his direction, unjust taxes were imposed on his subjects and to escape his persecutions large numbers of them emigrated to America. Seeking to reduce the colonies to direct dependence on the Crown, James cancelled the Charter of Massachusetts and ignored that of Maryland granted to Lord Baltimore. During the first year of his reign a great number of Scotch, Irish and English emigrated to the American colonies. Over a thousand prisoners taken in Monmouth's Rebellion were sent to Virginia to be indentured as servants for years, but the latter design was not carried out and in this way Virginia received many useful citizens. The reign of James, however, was a brief one; in December 1688, he was compelled to abdicate.

      Hence it was that, from 1660 to 1689--during the reigns of Charles II and James--the American colonies received tremendous accessions of the best and most virile blood of the British Kingdom. In addition to voluntary emigrants who arrived during that period, there were also sent to the colonies, by the government, large numbers of political rebels; also serving men to be sold for a term of years, apprentices and single women. The better class of emigrants, beside the political rebels, was composed of persons of quality, freeholders and religious exiles. The stream of settlers continued to flow to American Colonies steadily from 1660 to 1700.

      The exact date of arrival in America of Robert Pollok and his family has not been determined. It is estimated to have been near or about 1672. The earliest record relating to the Polk family in America is dated 8 Sep., 1680, in Somerset County, Maryland, where Robert's eldest son John registered the ear marks of his cattle. According to Josiah F. Polk, one of the Polk family historians, "there is documentary proof that some of the Polks were in Maryland as early as 1672." The basis for this statement is not known. Robert Polk did not, according to the records in Maryland, receive a grant of land until March 1687. Why he did not, and by what sort of title he held his land for some fifteen years before he was accorded a grant, does not appear in any record located. One tradition handed down in the family is that "they came shortly after the siege of Londonderry." This cannot be correct, for that event did not take place until 1689, two years after Robert received his first land grant. John, Robert's eldest son, is estimated to have been born about 1662. Therefore he would be age 18 in 1680, the year he registered his cattle ear marks. It is reasonable to assume that the family had been here a number of years in order for John to have acquired livestock at an early age.

      The entire company which came in the ship with the Polloks to America consisted of persons who were coming to the New World for civil and religious freedom. The ship (name unknown) landed at "Damn Quarter," now called "Dame's Quarter," on the "Eastern Shore" of Maryland, a low, flat strip of land about four of five miles in length, lying on the south side of a stream (on current maps, the Wicomico River) emptying into Chesapeake Bay. The Polloks took up residence in the colony of Lord Baltimore, who though himself a Catholic, was a man of the most generous impulses and liberal views. His colony was rapidly settled by not only emigrants from abroad, but it also became an asylum for those who were driven out of New England by Puritan persecutions, and from Virginia by the tyrannical measures and impositions of the Established Church against all dissenters. Many ministers were thrown into jail for preaching the Gospel in those areas.

      Robert was a stern Covenanter and he instilled his principles and religion into his children, with perhaps Robert Jr. excepted, who appears, from reading the records, to have been somewhat obstreperous. The Polks were Presbyterians. The family found the freedom to worship freely in Lord Baltimore's colony. Lord Baltimore passed laws protecting all denominations, in consequence of which the Western Peninsula of Maryland was settled almost entirely by Romanists, and the creed still dominants the area to this day. The Eastern Peninsula was settled entirely by Protestants and in that area, that religious creed prevails. As of 1912, using Princess Anne, Maryland, as the center, a radius of eighteen miles would describe a circle in which would be included many Presbyterian churches which county records reveal were fully organized by 1705. There is no certain evidence that Robert and Magdalen were members of any church. There is, however, a strong presumption that they were a religious couple and that they were probable members of Manokin church, named for the stream upon which bank it stands. This would have been the closest church to their home, others being too far away to have made it convenient for them to have attended. The records of Manokin church were lost before 1746. More recent records reveal that later members of the Polk family attended the Manokin church.

      Robert Polk received two land grants from Lord Baltimore, both in March of 1687. One grant was called "Polke's Folly," consisting of 100 acres, and the other was called "Polke's Lott," which encompassed fifty acres. "Polk's Folly" was described as lying in Somerset County, on the North side of the Manokin River, near the head of Broad Creek. "Polke's Lott" was also on the North side of the Manokin River. These grants are dated 7 March, 1687, and are recorded in the Maryland Archives, Land Office Patents, Liber 22, pages 356 and 357. Perhaps Robert named the one grant "Polk's Folly," because he felt it had been his "folly" to come to the New World. "Polk's Folly" remained in the Polk family until 1748, sixty-one years, when it was sold to William and John Shores. It remained with the Shores family one hundred and twenty years when it was bought in 1868 by William Harrison Polk and a Mr. Dashiell, the land being purchased from the trustee of the estate of Thomas Shores. In those earlier days there seems to have been much delay in the issue of patents to land claimants. Many immigrants came in and marked out and claimed tracts for which they did not receive patents until years later. Robert Polk apparently settled in the Province of Maryland about 1672 and occupied a tract for which he did not receive the patents until 1687. In 1992, Bill and Alicia Polk visited the area where Robert's land grants were located. Today, the area is part of Deal Island Wildlife Management Area, and is marsh land. On a modern map of Maryland, one can locate the land's location by following Highway 363 West out of Princess Anne, on through Monie, past St. Stephen and finally, where the first game reserve road exits the highway (heading southwest), is where the land grants were. When one exits the highway there, the land all around once belonged to Robert Polk, some 300 years ago.

      From 7 March, 1687, to 11 Nov., 1742, a period of fifty-five years, 4,152 acres were granted to members of the Polk family. There were many other land transactions at later dates to various Polks. It appears that all of the sons of Robert Polk received grants from Lord Baltimore. Ephraim secured the largest quantity of land, 908 acres being entered in his name. William Polk received 500 acres and his brother Charles, 600 acres. The other sons received various amounts of land.

      Robert continued to farm the lands on which he had settled when he came to the colony of Maryland and for which he received patents in 1687. He purchased other land to add to his holdings and continued to improve his estate. There are not many records on Robert other than land records; one such record found, dated 10 Mar 1697, was a petition to the court in Somerset. In this petition, he alleged that he had purchased a tract on Monie near Damn Quarter, had cleared a cornfield, and that the horse road passed right through his field, and asked permission to turn the road around his fence. Although they must have had to work very hard, carving a plantation out of the land, life was probably good for Robert, Magdalen and their children. They had the freedoms here in the New World they had not enjoyed in Ireland. The couple watched their children grow and start families of their own in this new land. Robert appears to have spent the remaining years of his life on the plantation in Somerset County, Maryland. Where he is buried is not known. There are two reasonable possibilities. The first is that he was buried on his plantation in a family graveyard. The second possibility is that he was buried in the churchyard of the church where he worshipped.

      For many years, Polk family historians thought that Robert Polk had died in Ireland before the family came to America. This belief was based on his will not being located in Somerset County. Only after a Polk descendent, Mr. R. C. Ballard Thruston of Louisville, KY., discovered the will of Robert Polk on file in the records at Annapolis, MD., did the long standing belief end. In the early existence of the Colony of Maryland, there was a "Chief Commissary," as he was called and this officer had in each county a "Deputy Commissary," by whom all wills were probated and put on record. A copy of the document was then forwarded to the Chief Commissary for re-entry and filing thus ensuring greater security in case either office should be burned. Apparently the county copy was lost and/or not recorded in Somerset County. The discovery of Robert Polk's will in Annapolis plus the two land grants to him in 1687 proved beyond a doubt that he did come to America with his family. [6, 7]

    • Immigrated prob. between 1672 - 1680 to America

  • Sources 
    1. [S2] John S. Howell, Jr., JSH Feb 13 2003 gedcom.

    2. [SAuth] John Spencer Howell, Jr., John Spencer Howell, Jr., (

    3. [S748] Mrs. Frank M. Angellotti, Angellotti - Polks of NC and TN, (Originally published by the New England Historical and Genealogical Soc., 1923-1924. ISBN 0-89308-543-X), p .134.

    4. [S716] Loula Allen Lentz, L. A. Lentz - Our Heritage, (Privately published manuscript. March 1, 1959. 198 pp. 8.5 x 11 in 19 ring binder, green custom impritned cover with gold lettering. Scanned into .PDF format. Cpies of the PDF file may be obtained from John Howell,, p. 20.

    5. [S984] Dr. Reginald V. Truitt and Dr. Millard G. Les Callette, Worcester County Maryland's Arcadia, (Worcester County Historical Society, Snow Hill, MD 1977), p. 25 "Robert Polk, whose will dated in 1703 left considerable land....".

    6. [S747] Bill Polk, Polk, Bill - Kansas City, MO, (Large web site, Kansas City, MO,

    7. [S751] Dan Buckely, Dan Buckely, (