Henry Popple

(c1705 - 1743)

What is known of minutiae of the life of Henry Popple, FRS (from 1737), author of the monumental wall map, ‘A Map of the British Empire in America with the French and Spanish settlements adjacent thereto’ (1733), can be written in a few lines. He was offered a junior clerkship at the Board of Trade and Plantations in 1722, on the death of his father. But, by 1728, “finding that position unprofitable, he resigned to work as a private financial agent for the West Indian governors and some British regiments. In that capacity, he appeared before the commissioners on numerous occasions” (Pritchard & Taliaferro). He died in Bordeaux in September of 1747, and his obituary in ‘The Gentleman’s Magazine’ for October of that year, mentions that he had been Cashier to the “late Queen” (ie Caroline of Ansbach).

Collectively, more is known of the lives of his immediate and reasonably illustrious family. His great grandfather, Edmund Popple, was sheriff of Hull in 1658, and married to Mary Marvell (b1616), sister of the metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell.

Henry’s grandfather, William I Popple (1638–1708), was born in Hull in 1638, and tutored by the poet. In 1663, he married Mary Alured (d1723). They moved to London in the early 1660s, where William began a career as a merchant. Later, from 1670 to 1688, they resided in Bordeaux. After returning to London he met “William Penn, and became secretary of the Dry Club, set up by John Locke to debate issues of religious liberty, and translated Locke’s ‘Letter on Toleration’ (1689) from the Latin. When Locke was appointed a commissioner of the Board of Trade, in 1696, Popple became the board’s secretary. He served as secretary for eleven years before retiring in favour of his son” (Seccombe and Rogers).

Henry’s father, William II Popple (1665/6–1722), was also served as Secretary at the Board of Trade and Plantations, who married Anne (1673/4–1730), of St Margaret’s, Westminster. They had three sons:

– Alured Popple (1699-1764) succeeded his brother William III at the Board of Trade and Plantations in 1745. He then became governor of Bermuda. Alured remained there until shortly before his death in 1764, visiting England only once in all that time, from November 1751 to November 1754. He retired to London in late 1763, and was succeeded in the governorship by his younger brother, William III.

– William III Popple (1700/01–1764), in addition to being Secretary at the Board of Trade and Plantations from 1737, was a dramatist. His government service began in 1723, when he was appointed secretary to Horatio Walpole in Paris. In early 1729, William III replaced William Congreve as an under-searcher in the port of London, and by the time Walpole returned from France in 1732 as cofferer to the royal household, he was already employed in the cofferer’s office.

– And Henry.