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POPHAM, Sir JOHN (d. 1463?), military commander and speaker-elect of the House of Commons, was son of Sir John Popham, a younger son of the ancient Hampshire family of Popham of Popham between Basingstoke and Winchester. His mother's name seems to have been Mathilda (Ancient Deeds, i. 217; Cal. Rot. Pat. p. 322). His uncle, Henry Popham, the head of the family, inherited, through an heiress, the estates of the Saint Martins at Grinstead in Wiltshire, Dean in Hampshire, and Alverstone in the Isle of Wight; served as knight of the shire for Hampshire in various parliaments, from 1383 to 1404, and died in 1418 or 1419 (ib. pp. 198, 252; Cal. Inq. post mortem, iv. 36; the family tree in Berry's Pedigrees of Hants, p. 181, cannot be reconciled with the documentary evidence). From a collateral branch, settled at Huntworth, near Bridgwater, Sir John Popham [q. v.], the chief justice, was descended. 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).]

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