Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 46.djvu/153

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


In 1415 Popham was constable of Southampton Castle, and in that capacity had the custody of the Earl of Cambridge and the others engaged in the conspiracy discovered there just before the king set sail for France (Rot. Parl. iv. 66; cf. Ord. Privy Council, ii. 33). He took part in that expedition at the head of thirty men-at-arms and ninety archers. Two years later he was one of Henry's most prominent followers in the conquest of Normandy, became bailli of Caen, and received a grant of the seigniory of Thorigny sur Vire, forfeited by Hervé de Mauny. Henry also gave him the constableship of the castle of Snith for life (ib. v. 179). Continuing in the French wars under the Duke of Bedford, Popham became chancellor of Anjou and Maine, and captain of St. Susanne in the latter county. He is sometimes described as ‘chancellor of the regent’ (Paris pendant la Domination Anglaise, p. 298). After Bedford's death he was appointed to serve on the Duke of York's council in Normandy, but showed some reluctance, and stipulated for the payment of his arrears, and for his return at the end of the year. In 1437 he was appointed treasurer of the household, but before the year closed French affairs again demanded his presence, and he acted as ambassador in the peace negotiations of 1438–9. The Duke of York, on being reappointed lieutenant-governor of France in 1440, requested his assistance as a member of his council (Stevenson, ii. [586]). In the parliament of November 1449, in which he sat for Hampshire, his native county, he was chosen speaker. He begged the king to excuse him, on the ground of the infirmities of an old soldier and the burden of advancing age; his request was acceded to, and William Tresham accepted in his stead (Rot. Parl. v. 171). The Yorkists in 1455 reduced his pension, and he seems to have been deprived of his post at court (ib. v. 312). He died, apparently, in 1463 or 1464 (Cal. Inq. post mortem, iv. 320, 338, cf. p. 375). There is no satisfactory evidence that he married, and his lands ultimately passed to the four coheiresses of his cousin, Sir Stephen Popham (son of Henry Popham), who had died in 1445 or 1446 (Cal. Rot. Pat. p. 322; cf. Berry, p. 21). One of them married Thomas Hampden of Buckinghamshire. The male line of the Pophams thus died out in its original seat.

[Rotuli Parliamentorum; Rymer's Fœdera, original edition; Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council, ed. Harris Nicolas; Stevenson's Wars in France, Rolls Ser.; Returns of Names of Members of Parliament (1878); Cal. Inquis. post mortem and Cal. Rot. Pat. publ. by Record Commission; Calendar of Ancient Deeds, publ. by the Master of the Rolls; Paris pendant la Domination Anglaise, ed. Longnon for Soc. de l'Histoire de Paris; Warner's Hampshire; Berry's Pedigrees of Hants (1833).]

J. T-t.

POPHAM, Sir JOHN (1531?–1607), chief-justice of the king's bench, born at Huntworth in Somerset about 1531, was the second son of Alexander Popham by Jane, daughter of Sir Edward Stradling of St. Donat's Castle, Glamorganshire (Visitation of Somerset, Harl. Soc. xi. 125; Clark, Limbus Patrum, p. 437). It is stated (Campbell, Lives of the Chief Justices, i. 209) that while quite a child he was stolen by a band of gipsies; but the story is probably no more than a gloss upon a statement made by Aubrey (Letters by Eminent Persons, ii. 492), and repeated in more detail by Lloyd (State Worthies), to the effect ‘that in his youthful days he was a stout and skilful man at sword and buckler as any in that age, and wild enough in his recreations, consorting with profligate companions, and even at times wont to take a purse with them.’ It is more certain that he was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, and subsequently entered the Middle Temple, becoming reader in the autumn of 1568, and treasurer twelve years later. A certain John Popham is mentioned (Official List of Members of Parliament) as representing Lyme Regis in Queen Mary's last parliament, but his identity is uncertain. Popham, however, represented Bristol, of which city he was recorder, in the third or fourth parliament of Queen Elizabeth—i.e. in 1571—and from 1572 to 1583 (Barrett, History of Bristol, p. 156). He was created a privy councillor in 1571, and in the following session (1576) assisted in drafting bills for a subsidy, for abolishing promoters and for preventing idleness by setting the poor to work.

Meanwhile he had acquired considerable reputation as a lawyer, and on 28 Jan. 1578–9 he was specially called to the degree of the coif. In the same year he accepted the post of solicitor-general, considering that, though inferior in rank to that of a serjeant-at-law, it more certainly led to judicial honours (Dugdale, Orig. Jurid. p. 127; Chron. Ser. p. 95). The death of Sir Robert Bell [q. v.] in 1579 having rendered the speakership vacant, Popham was elected to the chair on 20 Jan. 1580. On taking his seat he desired the members to ‘see their servants, pages, and lackies attending on them kept in good order’ (D'Ewes, Journal, p. 282). A few days later he was sharply reprimanded by the queen for allowing the house to infringe her prerogative by appointing a day of public fasting and humiliation. He confessed his fault-