Sir John Popham

Sir John Popham(c. 1531-1607), English judge, was born at Huntworth, in Somerset, about 1531. He was educated at Balliol College,Oxford, and called to the bar at the Middle Temple. Concerning his early life little is known, but he was probably a member of the parliament of 1558. He was recorder of Bristol, and represented that city in parliament in 1571 and from 1572 to 1583. He was elected Speaker in 1580, and in 1581 became attorney-general, a post which he occupied until his appointment as lord chief justice in 1592. He presided at the trials of Sir Walter Raleigh and Guy Fawkes. Towards the end of his life Popham took a great interest in colonization, and was instrumental in procuring patents for the London and Plymouth companies for the colonization of Virginia. Popham was also an advocate of transportation abroad as a means of punishing rogues and vagabonds. His experiment in that direction, the Popham colony, an expedition under the leadership of his brother George (c. 1550-1608), had, however, but a brief career in its settlement (1607) on the Kennebec river. Popham died on the 10th of June 1607, and was buried at Wellington, Somerset.