POPHAM, Alexander (?1729-1810), of Taunton, Som.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1768 - 1774
16 Mar. 1775 - 1780
1784 - 1796

Family and Education

b. ?1729, 1st s. of Rev. Alexander Popham, rector of West Monckton, Som. by Mary, da. of Thomas Gatchell.  educ. Balliol, 11 Nov. 1746, aged 17; M. Temple 1746, called 1755.

Offices Held

Bencher M. Temple 1785, reader 1793, treasurer 1800; recorder, Wells 1766-7, 1776- d.; master in Chancery 1786-1802; auditor of duchy of Lancaster 1802.


In 1768 Popham was nominated at Taunton by the Market House Society, an association of local tradesmen, and was returned unopposed. He does not appear in the five extant division lists for the first session of the Parliament, but voted with Opposition on the Address, 9 Jan. 1770, and all his other reported votes during this Parliament were with them. He spoke in support of Grenville’s Election Act, 16 Mar. 1770; and on 17 Feb. 1774 successfully introduced a bill to relieve acquitted prisoners of gaolers’ fees, and on 4 Mar. 1774 another for preserving the health of prisoners and preventing gaol distemper. Several other speeches by him on various subjects, generally with a legal bias, are reported.

Popham was classed by Robinson in his survey of September 1774 as ‘hopeful’, but at the general election he and Nathaniel Webb were opposed by two Administration candidates. Popham was defeated but seated on petition. During this Parliament he again voted regularly with Opposition. In 1780 the Administration made great efforts to turn him out, and he was forced to withdraw before the poll. When in January 1782 a vacancy at Taunton was imminent Popham wrote to Lord Shelburne: ‘It is pretty clear ... that it will not suit me to meddle’,1 and he did not stand. In 1784 he was returned unopposed. In William Adam’s list of May 1784 he was classed as ‘Administration’. He voted for parliamentary reform, 18 Apr. 1785; signed the third party circular, 1 May 1788; voted with the Administration on the impeachment of Impey, 9 May 1788, and the Regency, 1788-9. He spoke several times on various subjects during this Parliament, but his speeches seem generally to have been of little interest.

He died 13 Oct. 1810, aged 81.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Mary M. Drummond


  • 1. Lansdowne mss.