Margaret Steuart Pollard

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Margaret Steuart "Peggy" Pollard, née Gladstone (1 March 1904 – 13 November 1996), was the great great-niece of Liberal prime minister William Gladstone.[1] She was a scholar of Sanskrit, a poet and self-styled bard of the Cornish language. She was the founding member of Ferguson's Gang, a secret society of supporters of the National Trust, who had their headquarters at Shalford Mill.[2]

From 1920 she attended Newnham College, Cambridge,[3] where she was the first woman to gain first class honours in Oriental Languages. She married Captain Frank Pollard, an expert on Cornish history, and they lived in Truro, Cornwall. By 1938 she had become a bard, and a member of the Cornish Gorsedd. She was an enthusiastic supporter of campaigns to defend the landscape, language and traditions of Cornwall and rural England. She formed Ferguson's Gang (under the mockney pseudonym Bill Stickers).[4] On one occasion she donated £100 to the National Trust, wearing a full mask to preserve her anonymity.[1]

In 1947 a book about her home county, entitled Cornwall, that she had written was published by Paul Elek.[5] She has been described as ‘humorous, perceptive, and intelligent’.[6] In 1951 she converted to Roman Catholicism, and in 1973 built a Roman Catholic church dedicated to Our Lady of the Portal and St Piran on the site of a medieval chapel in Truro. For this she received the Benemerenti Medal from the Pope.[1]

Her husband died in 1968; however, she remained an active poet and translator. She had given away much of her inherited wealth, and lived in a one up, one down, old tin miner's cottage at Quenchwell, Kea, near Truro.[7] She remained a romantic figure, dressed as she was in a long skirt and a scarf wrapped around her head.


  1. ^ a b c Polly Bagnall & Sally Beck (2015). Ferguson's Gang: The Remarkable Story of the National Trust Gangsters. Pavilion Books. p. 10. ISBN 978-1909881716. 
  2. ^ Bagnall, Polly (2012). Ferguson- Exhibition Catalogue. 
  3. ^ Limb, Sue (2014). Breaking Bounds: Six Newnham Lives. Newnham College, Cambridge. ISBN 978-0993071508. 
  4. ^ Hutton-North, Anna (2013). Ferguson's Gang - The Maidens behind the Masks. Lulu Inc. ISBN 978-1-291-48453-3. 
  5. ^ Pollard, Peggy (1947). Cornwall. London: Paul Elek. 
  6. ^ Jenkin, Ann Trevenen (7 December 1996). "Obituary: Margaret Pollard". The Independent. Retrieved 15 October 2010. 
  7. ^ Pollard, Peggy (1947) Cornwall. London: Paul Elek, pp. 11-13