Robert Pollok

Robert Pollok (1799 - 1827)

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rp1Robert Pollok  -  Author and Poet  -  1799 - 1827

Robert Pollok was born on October 19, 1798 at North Moorhouse, Eaglesham. His father, John Pollok, was a farmer, first at North and then at Mid Moorhouse. His mother was Margaret Dickie, daughter of James and Margaret (Gemmell) of Horsehill. She was descended from Covenanters, and this was to have a profound influence on Robert. He received his early education at home from his mother and from the age of eight from Mr Jackson at Mearns Parish School at Mearnskirk. Aged fifteen, he attended Fenwick School, where Mr John Fairlie tutored him in Latin in preparation for entry to Glasgow College. He studied Latin. Greek and Moral Philosophy and in July 1820 he passed the examination by the United Associate Presbytery of Glasgow for admission into the Divinity Hall of the United Secession Church, where he studied theology under the professorship of Dr Dick for five years and was  licensed to preach in the United Secession Church in 1827. Ill health prevented him seeking a charge and he preached on only a few occasions.

While studying, he wrote stories which centred on the lives of local people during the Covenanting struggles of the 17th century: “Helen of the Glen”, “Ralph Gemmell” and “The Persecuted Family” were published anonymously, but after his death, these were published together under his name as “Tales of the Covenanters”
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In 1827, shortly before leaving the University, Pollok published what was to be his final and most famous work:“The Course of Time”, which extends to ten books in blank verse and describes the mortal and immortal destiny of man. On the recommendation of John Wilson, Professor of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh University, the "Course of Time" was published by Blackwood Publishers early in 1827. By its fourth edition, “The Course of Time” had sold 78,000 copies and was popular as far away as North America.

Soon after Robert was licensed to preach and following the publication of “The Course of Time”, symptoms of tuberculosis became apparent. Well-wishers contributed to enable Robert to travel to Italy as it was thought that the milder climate would  improve his health. He was unable to complete the journey with his sister and travelled only as far as Southampton.

He stayed on Shirley Common but his health continued to deteriorate and he died on 15th September 1827. He was buried in Millbrook Cemetery and the monument erected at his grave has the inscription:

THE GRAVE OF ROBERT POLLOK, A.M.AUTHOR OF "THE COURSE OF TIME"HIS IMMORTAL POEM IS HIS MONUMENT.
Erected by Admirers of his Genius

In Mearns, a monument to the poet was commissioned to celebrate the centenary of his birth. On 24th September 1900, in the presence of hundreds of people, the monument, sited at Loganswell at the junction of the Mearnskirk Road and the Glasgow/Ayr Road, was unveiled. It bears the tribute:

“He soared untrodden heights and seemed at home”.

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