POPHAM, Sir John (d.1418), of South Charford, Hants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Jan. 1397
Jan. 1404

Family and Education

yr. bro. of Henry Popham* m. (1) by 1394, Maud ?da. and h. of Oliver Zouche of South Charford and Eynesbury, Hunts., at least 1s. Sir John Zouche; (2) 1400, Isabel (d. 24 May 1419), da. of Sir Walter Romsey of Rockbourne, Hants, wid. of Thomas Lye of Staunton Fitzherberd, Wilts., 1s. Kntd. by Nov. 1390.

Offices Held

Bailiff of the duchy of Lancaster hundred of King’s Somborne, Hants c. June 1397-31 May 1408.1

Commr. of arrest, Hants Nov. 1399; array Dec. 1399, May 1406, Apr. 1418; inquiry, Wilts. May 1403 (claim to land by Elizabeth, countess of Huntingdon), Hants Jan. 1416 (trade through Southampton); to take musters, Southampton June 1412, Nov. 1417, Mar. 1418, escort the prior of St. Swithin’s, Winchester, to the Tower of London, Aug. 1415.

Sheriff, Hants 18 Jan.-19 Feb. 1404.

Constable of Southampton castle 23 Mar. 1404-d.

J.p. Hants 27 Jan. 1406-Feb. 1407.


John, who was a younger son, acquired his landed holdings for the most part through purchase and marriage. One such purchase was the manor of Denham and lands in Eye (Suffolk), which he acquired before 1381 but relinquished in 1402. His first marriage, to a member of the family of Zouche, brought him South Charford in the Avon valley in Hampshire as well as Eynesbury and other properties in Huntingdonshire. Under the terms of the agreement made in preparation for his second marriage, Popham’s future father-in-law, Sir Walter Romsey, promised to entail the large manor of Rockbourne on him and his future wife and their issue, and in November 1400, after the wedding had taken place, Popham procured the necessary royal licence for the settlement. But Sir Walter then refused to carry out his promise and, indeed, two years later entailed Rockbourne in favour of his grandson, Thomas Romsey. Amicable relations with the Romseys were resumed later, but Popham never acquired Rockbourne. His second wife did, however, bring him possession, for her lifetime, of her dower from a previous husband, which included the manor and advowson of Staunton Fitzherberd near Highworth in Wiltshire. Popham also held substantial properties in Salisbury and Southampton, the latter dating from his time as constable of Southampton castle. According to the assessments made in 1412 his lands in Hampshire were worth £20 a year, those in Huntingdonshire £31 and those in Wiltshire 19 marks, making a total of £63 13s.4d.2

Although he is first recorded in 1376, little is heard of Popham before 1390, by which date, as he had become a knight, it seems likely that he had spent some considerable time engaged in military service abroad. In this, as in other respects, he differed from his elder brother, Henry, who, despite his wealth and standing, never took up knighthood. Like Sir Philip Popham, probably his uncle, who had served as bailiff of the duchy of Lancaster hundred of King’s Somborne since before June 1350 and received an annuity of £10 from the duchy until his death in 1397, Sir John found a patron in John of Gaunt.3 He apparently succeeded Sir Philip in the duchy office, holding it until 1408, and it may be significant that it was not until the duke’s son came to the throne that he was appointed to any royal commissions. Then, in and after 1399, his rise to prominence was swift. He and his brother were both summoned from Hampshire to attend great councils in 1401 and 1403, and one or other of them represented the shire in all but one of the five Parliaments assembled between 1402 and 1407. Sir John was appointed as sheriff in January 1404, but, possibly because he was at that time a Member of the Commons and therefore in technical breach of the statute forbidding the return of sheriffs to Parliament, he was dismissed only a month later. That there was no disgrace attached to his dismissal is clear from his appointment in March following as constable of Southampton castle, to which post he was re-appointed by Henry V. Southampton was the focus of preparations for Henry’s first expedition to France in the summer of 1415, and it was, therefore, Popham who received custody at the castle of Richard, earl of Cambridge, Henry, Lord Scrope of Masham, and the others implicated in the plot discovered shortly before embarkation, pending their arraignment on charges of high treason. His son, John, was already a member of the entourage of the earl’s brother, Edward, duke of York, and was shortly to be knighted, possibly on the field of Agincourt.4

Sir John was still alive in November 1417, when his brother Henry named him as an executor of his will, but he was not awarded administration of the Pophan estate on 22 June 1418, and died some time before 27 Oct. that year, when his son, Sir John junior, succeeded him as constable of Southampton castle. The Sir John who supervised musters there and served on commissions of array in April 1418 is most likely to have been the father, for the son had been appointed bailli of Caen the previous December and was certainly still in France in the early spring. The younger Sir John, who went on to lead a distinguished career as chamberlain to the duke of Bedford, chancellor of Anjou and Maine, and treasurer of the household of Henry VI, was elected Speaker in the Parliament of 1449 (Feb.), only to decline the office.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


He is not to be confused with Sir John, s. of Sir Hugh and Hawise Popham, who held property in Somerset, including the manor of East Postridge, valued in 1377 at £30 a year. That Sir John died in about 1410, leaving as his heir his son, Thomas. (F. W. Popham, Pophams, 15; Hylle Cart. (Som. Rec. Soc. lxviii), 45-47; E159/156 recorda Hil.)

  • 1. Somerville, Duchy, i. 628.
  • 2. CCR, 1381-5, pp. 98, 216; 1402-5, pp. 278, 281; 1405-9, pp. 178, 180; 1409-13, p. 425; CAD, i. B6; VCH Hants, iv. 562, 583; VCH Hunts. ii. 274; Feudal Aids, vi. 456, 462, 536; CPR, 1399-1401, pp. 372, 458; God’s House Cart. (Soton Rec. Ser. xx), 263, 367; CFR, xiv. 283; C138/38/31.
  • 3. CPR, 1348-50, p. 546; 1350-4, p. 464; 1361-4, p. 50; CIPM, xi. 118; DL29/738/12104; CCR, 1374-7, p. 458.
  • 4. PPC, i. 161; ii. 33, 87; RP, iv. 66; N.H. Nicolas, Agincourt, 39. The DNB (xvi. 147) is in error in stating that the younger Sir John was constable of Southampton in 1415.
  • 5. Reg. Chichele, ii. 138; CPR, 1422-9, p. 111; J.S. Roskell ‘Sir John Popham’, Procs. Hants Field Club, xxi. 38-52.