Sir John Popham, MP, Speaker of the House of Commons

Is your surname Popham?

Research the Popham family

Sir John Popham, MP, Speaker of the House of Commons's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


John Popham

Birthplace: Huntworth, Somerset, England
Death: before June 10, 1607
Wellington, Somerset, England
Place of Burial: Wellington, Somerset, England, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Alexander Popham, Kt., MP and Joan Popham
Husband of Amy Popham
Father of Elinor Popham; Elizabeth Champernowne; Mary Popham; Katharine (Popham); Jane Horner and 3 others
Brother of William POPHAM; Robert POPHAM; Elizabeth (Popham); Dorothy (Popham); Edward Popham, MP and 1 other

Occupation: Lord Chief Justice, Speaker of the House of Commons (1580-1583), Lord Chief Justice of England (June 2, 1592-June 1607), Lord Cheif Justice, England
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sir John Popham, MP, Speaker of the House of Commons

Family and Education

b. 1532/33, 2nd s. of Alexander Popham, and bro. of Edward. educ. Balliol, Oxf.; M. Temple. m. by Jan. 1549, Amy, da. and h. of Hugh Adams of Castleton, Glam., 1s. Francis† 6da. Kntd. 1592.1


  • Sir Francis Popham, his only son and heir
  • Penelope Popham
  • Elinor Popham
  • Elizabeth Popham
  • Mary Popham
  • Amy Popham

Offices Held

Autumn reader, M. Temple 1568, Lent 1573, treasurer 1580-8.

Recorder, Bridgwater 1571-2, Bristol 1571-80; j.p.q. Som. 1573/74-d., Mdx. 1583, Bucks., Norf., Wilts. 1594, Beds., Cambs., Hunts., Suff. 1600; serjeant-at-law 1579; solicitor-gen. 1579-81; attorney-gen. 1581-9; 2nd justice, Lancaster 1581-9; j.c.p. 1589-92; l.c.j. KB 1592-d.; receiver of petitions in the Lords, Parlts. of 1593, 1597, 1601, 1604; custos rot. Som. by 1594; commr. eccles. causes, Salisbury diocese 1599, chancellorship of duchy of Lancaster 1601; PC 1599.2

Speaker of House of Commons 1581.


John Popham married very young, apparently when no more than 17; his wife, who was heir to the manor of Castleton in Glamorganshire, may have been a ward of his father, from whom John was to inherit property in Bridgwater, Somerset. According to Aubrey it was not until he was 30 years old that Popham was persuaded by his wife to concentrate on his legal studies. He had earlier been put out of commons by his inn, where in November 1556 he was restored on paying a fine of 40s.; and it was not until the 1560s that he began that progress which brought him to the top of his chosen profession.3

Popham’s election to the Parliament of 1558 by Lyme Regis may have been the work of his brother-in-law William Pole, who sat for the town in 1545 and who was to become its legal counsellor. Nothing is known of Popham’s role in Mary’s last Parliament although his name is marked with a circle on a copy of the list of its Members in use for the second session: the significance of the circle has yet to be explained.4

After a long and distinguished career under Elizabeth, Popham died on 10 June 1607, and was buried in the church at Wellington. Several portraits of him in middle age survive.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. Aged 25 on 15 May 1558, but allegedly 76 at death according to MI, St.Ch.3/9/88; Collinson, Som. ii. 483. Vis. Som. (Harl. Soc. xi), 125; CPR, 1553, p. 326.
  • 2. W. Barrett, Bristol, 115; Dugdale, Chronica Series, 95, 97-98; APC, xxix. 738; LJ, ii. 168, 191, 226, 263; Somerville, Duchy. i. 396-7; C66/1421; SP 13 case no. 11.
  • 3.CPR, 1553, p. 326; Manning, Speakers, 247; C142/108/104; M.T. Recs. i. passim.
  • 4. Wm. Salt Lib. SMS 264.
  • 5. Collinson, ii. 483; Cat. Boughton House State Rooms and High Pavilion, 1, 2.



view all 12

Sir John Popham, MP, Speaker of the House of Commons's Timeline

Huntworth, Somerset, England
Age 18
Huntworth, Somerset, England
Age 20
Somerset, , England
Age 24
Huntworth, Somerset, England
Age 26
Huntworth, Somerset, England, United Kingdom
Age 28
Huntworth, Somerset, , England
Age 29
Huntsworth, Somerset, , England
Age 42
Littlecott, Wiltshire, England
June 10, 1607
Age 76
Wellington, Somerset, England