James K. Polk

portrait of James K. Polk c. 1846, oil on canvas, by George Peter Alexander Healy; photo by Minor K. Kellogg [CC BY-SA 1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Birth Name: James Knox Polk

Date of Birth: November 2, 1795

Place of Birth: Pineville, North Carolina, U.S.

Date of Death: June 15, 1849

Place of Death: Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.

Ethnicity: Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, Scottish, Irish, English

James K. Polk was an American politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he was the 11th President of the United States, having served from March 4, 1845 to March 4, 1849. He was elected to the position in 1844. He was also a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Tennessee, from March 4, 1825 to March 4, 1839, the 13th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, from December 7, 1835 to March 4, 1839, and the 9th Governor of Tennessee, from October 14, 1839 to October 15, 1841.

He received one electoral vote for Vice President of the United States, from Tennessee, in the 1840 presidential election.

President Polk was the son of Jane (Knox) and Samuel Polk. He was married to Sarah Childress Polk, until his death. The family surname was Pollock several generations back.

President Polk’s mother was related to John Knox, the Scottish minister, theologian, and writer who was a leader of Scotland’s Protestant Reformation.

President Polk’s paternal grandfather was Ezekial/Ezekiel Polk (the son of William Polk, Jr. and Margaret Taylor). President Polk’s grandfather Ezekial was born in Pennsylvania, near Carlisle, Cumberland. William was the son of William Polk, who likely was born in County Donegal, Ireland, and of Nancy Knox.

President Polk’s paternal grandmother was Maria/Mary Wilson (the daughter of Samuel Wilson and Mary Winslow). President Polk’s great-grandmother Mary was the daughter of Benjamin Winslow.

President Polk’s maternal grandfather was Capt. James Knox (the son of John Knox and Jean/Jeane Gracy). President Polk’s grandfather James likely was born in Rowan County, North Carolina. John was born in Renfrewshire, Scotland. Jean was born in Coleraine, Londonderry, Northern Ireland, the daughter of Jean Sinclair.

President Polk’s maternal grandmother was named Lydia Gillespie (the daughter of Thomas Gillespie and Naomi).

President Polk was a second cousin, five times removed, of British-born actor Charles Shaughnessy. President Polk’s paternal great-grandparents, William Polk, Jr. and Margaret Taylor, were also Charles’s paternal six times great-grandparents.

Sources: Genealogies of President Polk – https://www.geni.com

4 Responses

  1. andrew says:

    He had more Scots-Irish/Scottish/Irish ancestry than English

    William Bruce Polk’s wife was from Donegal, County Cork, Ireland

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