Alexander Popham

Alexander Popham (1605 – 1669) of Littlecote, Wiltshire, was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1640 and 1669. He was patron of the philosopher John Locke.

Colonel Alexander Popham, of Littlecote, Wiltshire, portrait circa 1660-5 by Abraham Staphorst
Arms of Popham: Argent, on a chief gules two stag's heads cabossed or

Early lifeEdit

Popham was born at Littlecote House in Wiltshire, the son of Sir Francis Popham and Anne Gardiner Dudley, and grandson of Sir John Popham and wife Amy Games. He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, and admitted to the Middle Temple in 1622.[1]


Popham was a prominent figure and Justice of the Peace in Somerset. In April 1640 he was elected Member of Parliament for Bath in the Short Parliament. He was re-elected MP for Bath for the Long Parliament in November 1640.[1]

Civil War and InterregnumEdit

Popham became commander of the Bath Regiment, a force made up of local infantry. His regiment saw action in the Battle of Roundway Down in 1643 near Devizes.[2]

Popham came from a Presbyterian family and was himself an elder in the church. He supported the Parliamentary cause and fought in the Parliamentary army with the rank of colonel; he had a garrison stationed at Littlecote House. Despite his Presbyterianism, his sympathies lay with the Army during the Second Civil War, so he survived Pride's Purge in late 1648 and – after the execution of Charles I and the founding of the Commonwealth – he served on the Council of State.[1]

In 1654, he was elected MP for Bath again in the First Protectorate Parliament. He was elected MP for Wiltshire in the Second Protectorate Parliament and for Minehead in the Third Protectorate Parliament. He did not support the Protectorate and although he sat in the Protectorate parliaments he refused to take his seat in Cromwell's Other House (1657–1658).[1]


In April 1660, he was elected MP for Bath again in the Convention Parliament. After the restoration of the monarchy, he made his peace with Charles II and entertained him to a "costlie dinner" at Littlecote. He was re-elected MP for Bath in 1661 to the Cavalier Parliament.[1]


Littlecote House, Wiltshire, the seat of the Popham family

Popham inherited from his father in 1644, his older brother John (also an MP) having died in 1637.[3]

Popham married first Dorothy Cole (died 1643) and second Letitia Carre, daughter of William Carre of Ferniehurst, Scotland, half brother to Robert Carre, favourite of King James I. By his second wife, he had eight children, of whom six, three sons and three daughters, survived into adulthood:

Deaf nephewEdit

This Alexander Popham is not to be confused with his nephew Alexander Popham, son of Alexander's brother Edward Popham, who was born deaf and was taught to speak by two scientists, John Wallis and William Holder. He is considered to be one of the earliest cases of a born deaf person learning to talk.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e Helms, M. W.; Cassidy, Irene. "POPHAM, Alexander (c.1605-69), of Houndstreet, Som. and Littlecote, Wilts". History of Parliament Online. Archived from the original on 9 November 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  2. ^ Wroughton, John (2004). Stuart Bath: Life in the Forgotten City, 1603–1714. Wiltshire, England: The Lansdown Press. p. 45.
  3. ^ "POPHAM, John (1603-1637), of Houndstreet, Som., and Littlecote, Wilts". History of Parliament Online. Archived from the original on 4 September 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  4. ^ "Find could end 350-year science dispute". BBC News: Health. 26 July 2008. Retrieved 21 February 2021.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit