Pollard was born at Horsham, Sussex, on 10 June 1828, the son of James Pollard (1789–1851) and his wife, Susannah. He became a junior teacher at the Friends' School, Croydon in 1843, and in 1849 entered the Flounders Institute at Ackworth, Yorkshire. He was appointed a master at Ackworth School in 1851 and remained there for 16 years.
Pollard married Lucy Binns of Bishopwearmouth on 12 January 1854. They were to have ten children. Pollard was the author of several Quaker tracts while he was at Ackworth, including Primitive Christianity Revived and Congregational Worship. Ill-health obliged him to leave the teaching profession in 1866, but he was first mentioned as a recorded minister in the same year, when the family moved to Reigate.
A Reasonable Faith
From 1866 to 1872, Pollard worked for the photographer Francis Frith. A proponent of liberal, quietist Quaker theology, he was co-author, with Frith and W.E. Turner, of the influential book A Reasonable Faith, by Three Friends (1884 and 1886), which provoked outcry among evangelically minded Quakers. In 1871 he published Considerations Addressed to the Society of Friends on the Peace Question, and in 1872 he became secretary and lecturer to the Lancashire and Cheshire International Arbitration Association, a branch of the Peace Society. He held this post for most of the rest of his life.
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