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Sir John Popham (1531?-1607), Lord Chief Justice and Speaker of the House of Commons

Sitter associated with 2 portraits
After studying at Balliol College, Oxford, he proceeded to the Middle Temple, where he rose to become Treasurer in 1580. He was elected as an MP in 1571. In 1581 he was elected Speaker of the House of Commons, and later that year was appointed Attorney General. In this role, and then as Chief Justice, he presided over the trials of Sir Walter Ralegh (1603) and Guy Fawkes (1606). His legal career developed rapidly alongside his parliamentary activities and was extremely lucrative for him. He was also involved in early American colonisation projects. He was the principal patron of the Plymouth Company, and through it the main inspiration for the attempted colonisation of Maine in 1606-07.

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Sir John Popham

copy by George Perfect Harding, after Unknown artist
On display in Room 3 at the National Portrait Gallery
NPG 2405