Family History – Uncle Jack

Maggie Pollock, half-sister of Jack Pollock: “He was too much of a coward.”

Having inquired upon the part of our Lord the King when, where, and how the said John Campbell Pollock came by his death,  I say that on the 21st day of July 1933 in Bedroom No. 26, on the 3rd Floor of the Doutta Galla Hotel, Racecourse Road, Newmarket in the said State, the said John Campbell  Pollock died  from a bullet wound of the head there wilfully self inflicted on the 20th or 21st day of July 1933.  – David Grant, Coroner, Melbourne 18 August 1933

Many years later I heard of the untimely death of my unknown-to-me Uncle Jack and I asked my mother about it. Her reply was short and sharp: “He was too much of a coward to shoot himself ”. Mention of her halfbrother had been infrequent but enough for me to gain the impression he was a selfish bully. It was his younger brother Robert Wilson Pollock we knew about, our Uncle Bob, married to Jean (Ginny), father of Clyde, Norma, Nancy, Joyce and Bill; he was a weighbridge clerk who lived at Moonee Ponds and who died at age 72 from lung cancer. These Pollocks were part of our extended loving family.

My grandfather, William Hendry Pollock, died of influenza in November 1928, aged 80, four months before I was born. Before his death William was still farming his property variously described as being at Woodfield, Brankeet, or Bonnie Doon. William’s Last Will and Testament appointed Robert (Bob) as joint trustee along with the bank manager, and provided that after payment of legacies to his daughters, the residue of his estate was to be equally divided between his wife, Mary Ann, and his sons Bob and Jack, allowing for the postponement of the sale of the estate so as to carry on the property as it had been carried on in his own lifetime, with Jack as manager.

Within five years of Jack’s management the farm had been sold, Mary Ann and her unmarried daughter Marion and her unmarried son David were relocated in Benalla, and Jack was living at The Doutta Galla Hotel in Newmarket, gambling at the races, drinking heavily and owing money for his hotel lodging and his gambling debts.

To paraphrase my mother I would say that Jack was too much of a coward to face up to the mess he’d made of his life and suicide was the easy way out, quick and final! However, there were other personal opinions at the time that Jack had not shot himself. My cousin, the late Neil Black gave me his father’s opinion that gangsters, probably the infamous Sqizzy Taylor and company, had executed him for non-payment of gambling debts.

My brothers’ father-in-law, the late Harold Snook, who was living at Bonnie Doon at that time, told me that the rumour was that a barmaid had shot him. Neil and I agreed that it seemed unlikely that Jack could have fired the revolver pointed backwards directly at his forehead, especially as there were no powder burns to the skin.

In the next posting I will include some of the evidence given by the hotel-keeper, the cook, the waitress, and the police. It should be interesting reading and throw some light on how low Jack had come from “retired grazier” to impoverished gambler.

– almewett

Published in: on June 27, 2011 at 11:41 am  Leave a Comment  

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