Edward Popham
Died: 19 Aug, 1651
Field: Soldier; sailor
Location in the Abbey: Chapel of st john baptist, St Margaret's Church
Type of memorial: Statue
Type of material: Marble

In the chapel of St John the Baptist at Westminster Abbey there is a monument to Colonel Edward Popham, naval and army officer, and his wife Anne. The black and white marble monument shows two life-size alabaster figures on either side of a pedestal on which is a helmet. Above, a draped canopy is drawn back over the figures. Colonel Popham is in armour. At the top is a coat of arms "argent on a chief gules two bucks' heads or, a crescent for difference (for Popham) impaling "gules on a chevron argent, three mullets [stars] sable" (for Carr). Beside Anne's figure is another shield showing a different coat of arms for Popham "an inescutcheon or, charged with a lion rampant double quevee [double tailed] gules". A third shield has disappeared. The monument is attributed to sculptor William Wright. There is now no inscription.

Edward was born in about 1610, a son of Sir Francis Popham (d.1644) and his wife Anne (Dudley). He was a naval lieutenant by 1636 and was made a captain in the following year. With his brothers Alexander and Hugh Edward supported Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War and served in the cavalry. In 1645 he was a colonel in the new Model Army and the same year he married Anne, daughter of William Carr, who had been a groom of the bedchamber to James I. Their children were Letitia and Alexander. Popham died of fever at Dover in Kent on 19 August 1651 and was given a magnificent funeral in the Abbey. His widow married Philip, 4th Lord Wentworth.

But at the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 his body, along with many other Cromwellians, was disinterred. Instead of being re-buried in a pit outside like the others his friends were permitted to take his body away. The monument was allowed to stay in the Abbey as long as its inscription was erased. A story that the panel was just turned around was disproved in 1866 when it was inspected but no wording was found. It is assumed a new plain panel was put in at the time.

A photo of the monument can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004 (which also illustrates a painting of the Popham family)




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