POPHAM, Alexander (c.1605-69), of Houndstreet, Som. and Littlecote, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. c.1605, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir Francis Popham† of Houndstreet and Wellington, Som. by Anne, da. and h. of John Dudley of Stoke Newington, Mdx.; bro. of John Popham† and Edward Popham. educ. Balliol, Oxf. matric. 16 July 1621, aged 16; M. Temple 1622; travelled abroad (Spain) 1630-1. m. (1) 29 Oct. 1635, Dorothy (d. 2 Apr. 1643), da. and h. of Richard Cole of Nailsea, Som., 1s. d.v.p.; (2) c.1644, Letitia, da. of William Kerr of Linton, Roxburgh, groom of the bedchamber to James I, 5s. (2 d.v.p.) 3da. suc. fa. 1644.3
Col. (parliamentary) 1642-5.
Commr. for maintenance of forces. Som. 1643-4, assessing malignants 1643, assessment, Som. 1643-52, Wilts. 1644-52, Lincs. (Kesteven) 1647-8, Som. and Wilts. 1657, Jan. 1660-d., Westminster Aug. 1660-3, sequestration, Som. 1643, accounts 1643, levying of money, Som. and Bristol 1643, defence, Wilts, 1644, courts martial, London 1644, security, Bristol 1645; j.p. Lincs. (Kesteven) 1646-?9, Som. 1649-d., Wilts. 1652-d., Westminster July 1660-d.; commr. for militia, Som. and Wilts. 1648, 1659, Som., Wilts., Bristol and Westminster Mar. 1660; elder, Bath classis 1648; custos rot. Som. 1650-July 1660, col. of militia horse 1650-at least Apr. 1660; commr. for oyer and terminer, Western circuit 1655, 1665; dep. lt. Wilts. c. Aug. 1660-d., Som. 1666-d.; commr. for sewers, Westminster Aug. 1660, Som. Aug., Dec. 1660.
Commr. for regulating excise 1645, exclusion from sacrament 1646, scandalous offences 1648; councillor of state 1649-Feb. 1651, Dec. 1651-2, 25 Feb.-31 May 1660; dep. gov. Society of Mines Royal 1654-7, asst. 1658-61, gov. 1661-3.4
Popham’s ancestors had been seated in Somerset since the late 13th century, and first represented the county in 1300. In the Civil War the family was strongly parliamentarian. Popham, though a Presbyterian elder, continued to sit after Pride’s Purge and served on the council of state. But he opposed the Protectorate and refused to take his seat in the other House in 1657-8. He was in touch with royalist agents in 1659, declaring himself ‘ready to expiate his former actions’, but proved ‘a broken reed’ during Booth’s rising. In Jan. 1660 he offered his life, fortune and interest to the King, but the Cavaliers looked upon him with suspicion as one of the Presbyterian junto.5
Popham was returned unopposed to the Convention for Bath, ten miles from his residence at Houndstreet. Though marked by Lord Wharton as a friend, and regarded as aiming at a conditional Restoration, he was reported to be delighted with the unanimity and cheerfulness of proceedings in the first week of Parliament. He was not an active Member, making no recorded speeches and serving on only four committees, of which the most important was to draw up instructions for the messengers to the King. Popham and his colleague William Prynne were opposed at Bath by two Cavaliers in the general election of 1661, but allowed to take their seats after a double return. He was again inactive, being appointed to only six committees. He gave the King ‘a costly dinner’ at Littlecote in 1663, and further demonstrated his loyalty by his activity as deputy lieutenant when a rising was threatened a few weeks later. He must have conformed, but is unlikely to have favoured the Clarendon Code. He was among the Members chosen to thank the King and the City for defending the nation against the Dutch in 1664. He was buried at Chilton Foliat on 8 Dec. 1669, leaving an estate estimated at £4,000 p.a.6