Show ContentsPopham History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Popham is a name whose history is connected to the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from when the Popham family once lived in Popham, Hants (now Hampshire). The first portion of the name is of uncertain meaning; medieval scholars believe that it is derived from the Old English word popp, which means pebble, but that etymology is uncertain. The second element, ham, means homestead or enclosure. Popham was recorded as Popham in 903, and as Popeham in the Domesday Book, 1 compiled in 1086.

Early Origins of the Popham family

The surname Popham was first found in Hampshire at Popham, a village south of Basingstoke. It is claimed that "an ancestor, Gilbert de Popham, lived in the reign or King John; and there the elder line continued till 17 Henry VI. The Sommerstshire Pophams branched out of the Hampshire family, so early as temp. Edward I." 2 3

Early History of the Popham family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Popham research. Another 103 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1150, 1190, 1293, 1434, 1435, 1463, 1531, 1573, 1580, 1581, 1583, 1592, 1595, 1597, 1607, 1610, 1612, 1644, 1651 and 1669 are included under the topic Early Popham History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Popham Spelling Variations

Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Popham family name include Popham, Poppam and others.

Early Notables of the Popham family

Notables of this surname at this time include:

  • Sir John Popham (died 1463), English military commander and Speaker-elect of the House of Commons, son of Sir John Popham, a younger son of the ancient Hampshire family of Popham of Popham between Bas...
  • Sir Stephen Popham, High Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1434-1435
  • Sir John Popham (1531-1607), Speaker of the House of Commons from 1580 to 1583, Attorney General 1581 to 1592, and Lord Chief Justice of England from 1592 to 1607
  • Sir Francis Popham (1573-1644), an English soldier, landowner and politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1597 and 1644, High Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1612
  • Alexander Popham of Littlecote, Wiltshire, (c. 1595-1669), MP in the Long Parliament, patron of the philosopher John Locke

Popham Ranking

In the United States, the name Popham is the 9,649th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. 4

United States Popham migration to the United States +

For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, Canada, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Early immigrants bearing the Popham surname or a spelling variation of the name include:

Popham Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Edward Popham, nephew of George Popham, who settled in Maine in 1607
  • George Popham (1550–1608) English settler from Plymouth to New England aboard the Gift of God from Somerset in 1607 who founded the short-lived Popham Colony and Fort Popham, located near the present-day town of Phippsburg, Maine
  • Richard Popham, who arrived in Maryland in 1661 5
Popham Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Popham, aged 27, who arrived in West Indies in 1812 5
  • Thomas F Popham, aged 51, who landed in New York in 1815 5
  • Richard Popham, who settled in New York in 1820
  • James Popham, aged 60, who landed in New York, NY in 1850 5

Australia Popham migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Popham Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Eliza Popham, aged 26, a housemaid, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Oriental,"

New Zealand Popham migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Popham Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. H. Popham, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Palmyra" arriving in Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 19th February 1858 6
  • Mrs. Popham, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Palmyra" arriving in Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 19th February 1858 6

Contemporary Notables of the name Popham (post 1700) +

  • R. G. Popham, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Iowa, 1908 7
  • Sir John Popham (d. 1463), English military commander and speaker-elect of the House of Commons
  • George Popham (1550-1608), English pioneering colonist from Maine
  • Sir Francis Popham (1573-1644), English soldier and politician
  • Mr. Stuart Godfrey Popham C.M.G., Q.C. (b. 1955), British lawyer, was appointed Knight Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George on 29th December 2018 for services to strengthening Britain’s contribution to international and economic relations 8
  • Alexander Popham (1729-1810), British politician and penal reformer
  • Sir John Popham (1531-1607), British Speaker of the House of Commons
  • Sir Robert Moore Brooke Popham (1878-1953), senior commander in the British Royal Air Force
  • Home Riggs Popham (1762-1820), British naval officer, inventor of a numeric code for signal flags
  • Arthur E. Popham (1889-1970), British art historian
  • ... (Another 1 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

The Popham Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Mens pristina mansit
Motto Translation: The original mind hath remained.

  1. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  4. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  5. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from
  7. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 22) . Retrieved from
  8. "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62507, 28 December 2018 | London Gazette, The Gazette, Dec. 2018, on Facebook