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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Pollock, Cullen

by Vernon O. Stumpf, 1994


Cullen Pollock, colonial official, was the son of acting governor Thomas Pollock by his first wife, Martha Cullen West Pollock, the second of their three sons and one daughter who lived to adulthood, Thomas, George, and Martha. Cullen and his brothers received much of their formal education in Boston, where their father had property and business connections. He also probably read law under his father. The three brothers benefited from their father's political and landowning interests in North Carolina; they held many colonial offices and owned large tracts of land themselves in Chowan, Bertie, Edgecombe, and Tyrrell precincts. Thomas Pollock II sat on the Council, while his brother Cullen was a member of the Assembly from Chowan and George was a successful merchant. Later Cullen served on the Council after his older brother retired.

As a child Cullen was a member of St. Paul's Parish in Edenton, but with its division in 1722 he became a vestryman of the South Shore Parish. When his father was acting governor, after the death of Governor Charles Eden, Cullen was appointed a judge of the General Court of Oyer and Terminer. He received another appointment as associate justice of the supreme court from royal governor Gabriel Johnston in 1734. He also held assorted minor offices and served for several terms as assembly-man for Chowan County. In 1733 he was made a member of the Council, a post he held for the remainder of his life.

The practice of factional politics is an ancient one in North Carolina; Governor Pollock had to wrestle with factions and so did his sons. The records reveal one incident involving violence, and when Cullen Pollock was summoned by Chief Justice Christopher Gale in October 1722 to answer charges that he had beaten and abused Thomas Cooke "very notoriously"—and which was proved before the court—he was fined forty shillings and required to post a security bond of twenty pounds on condition that if he behaved himself until the third day of the next General Court, the sentence would be voided. Pollock complied with these terms, but he appeared in court on other occasions for minor misdeeds. He also was involved in disputes over land claimed by Christoph von Graffenried and the Palatines who established New Bern.

Pollock married his cousin, Frances West, and they were the parents of two sons, George and Cullen, and three daughters, Martha, Frances, and Mary. He instructed the executors of his will that his minor children should have as good an education as could be had in the province after which his two young sons should be sent to Boston for further study until they were eighteen.


Walter Clark, ed., State Records of North Carolina, vols. 11, 22, 25 (1896–1907).

R. D. W. Connor, History of North Carolina: The Colonial and Revolutionary Periods, 1584–1783 (1919).

J. Bryan Grimes, ed., North Carolina Wills and Inventories (1912).

J. R. B. Hathaway, ed., North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. 1 (1900).

Hugh T. Lefler and William S. Powell, Colonial North Carolina: A History (1973).

Pollock-Devereux Papers (North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh).

Pollock, Devereux, and Hinsdale Family Papers (Manuscript Department, Duke University Library, Durham).

William L. Saunders, ed., Colonial Records of North Carolina, vols. 1–5 (1886–87).

Additional Resources:

"CSR Documents by Pollock, Cullen." Colonial and State Records of North Carolina. Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (accessed July 30, 2013).

North Carolina General Court. Minutes of the General Court of North Carolina October 30, 1722 - November 03, 1722. Colonial and State Records of North Carolina Volume 2. 478-480. Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (accessed July 30, 2013).

"Cullen Pollock's Will." North Carolina wills and inventories copied from original and recorded wills and inventories in the office of the secretary of state. Raleigh, Edwards & Broughton printing company, printers. 1912. 336-340. North Carolina Digital Collections. (accessed July 30, 2013).

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