POPHAM, Alexander (by 1504-56), of Huntworth, Som.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1504, 1st s. of John Popham of Huntworth by Isabel, da. of Thomas Knolle. educ. ?M. Temple. m. by 1530, Joan, da. of Sir Edward Stradling (d.1535) of St. Donat’s, Glam., 4s. inc. Edward and John 3da. suc. fa. 17 Feb. 1536.2

Offices Held

Escheator, Som. and Dorset Apr.-Nov. 1536, 1551-2; j.p. Som. 1538-d.; recorder, Bridgwater by 1541-d.; commr. benevolence, Som. 1544/45, relief 1550.3


Everything in Alexander Popham’s career points to his having had a legal training but his name does not appear in the registers or books of any of the inns. Since he was almost certainly the ‘Mr. Popham of the Middle Temple’ who oversaw the will of his father-in-law, Sir Edward Stradling, he may be confidently assigned to that inn which many of his descendants also attended. In 1536, during his term as escheator, he had the unusual duty of holding the inquisition following his own father’s death and of finding himself to be the heir. He was soon afterwards put on the Somerset bench and served on a variety of other commissions during the next 20 years.4

His home being only two miles from Bridgwater, Popham was naturally brought into contact with the town as indeed his forbears had been. The returns made by Bridgwater do not survive for Henry VIII’s previous Parliaments, but presumably he sat for the borough in the Parliament of 1542 since he already held the recordership. If he had succeeded a previous holder, Baldwin Malet, after Malet’s death in 1533, he may also have sat in the Parliament of 1529, replacing Henry Thornton, and the two following ones. It is not clear why he did not sit again after 1547, but several of the Members chosen by Bridgwater before his death were apparently favoured by Popham. There is no indication that he had noble or government connexions, but he was a familiar figure among the Somerset gentry, appearing frequently as executor or supervisor of their wills.5

Popham had inherited from his father only the manor of Huntworth but he took advantage of the Dissolution to acquire other lands. Some of these he re-sold, but at his death he held the manors of Buckland and Huntworth, and 60 houses in Bridgwater. He made his will on I June 1556. After asking to be buried in North Petherton church Popham provided for several charities, his children and his servants. He left annuities to Lady Margaret and Lady Eleanor Bourchier, and to his kinsman (Sir) William Portman a mare. The executors were Sir Robert Stradling, Bartholomew Combe and Humphrey Walrond (Popham’s brother-in-law) with Portman and Richard Michell, Popham’s son-in-law, as overseers. Popham died ten days later and the will was proved early in the following month.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Roger Virgoe


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/58/81. Vis. Som. (Harl. Soc. xi), 125.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xiii-xxi; CPR, 1553, p. 359; Bridgwater corp. ms 1449.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xv; C142/58/81.
  • 5. Bridgwater corp. mss 1449; 1456; 1533; Som. Med. Wills (Som. Rec. Soc. xxi), 63, 68, 112, 126.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, xix, xx; PCC 10 Ketchyn; C142/108/104.