Pope Surname Genealogy

In the early Christian Church, the Latin papa
or “father” was first used as a
title of respect for male clergy of every rank. In
the western Church it gradually came to be
restricted to bishops, and then only to the Bishop of Rome – i.e. the
As a surname Pope might not even apply to a man
of the church. It could have been adopted
by someone who had played the part of the pope in a pageant or play. Some have suggested that it might also have been
used as a nickname describing an austere or vain man.

Pope Resources on

Pope Ancestry

Pope has been a surname of southern England – both SW England and SE

SW England. The Pope name appeared at an early
time in the town of Gloucester. In the late 14th century John
was a prominent goldsmith there and other Popes were
manufacturers. Four Popes represented
Gloucester in a total of ten Parliaments between 1376 and 1397.
In 1388 two
of them, John and Stephen, were returned together

The Pope name had extended by the 15th century:

  • west to Devon and Exeter – where Walter Pope was mayor in
  • and east to Hampshire and
    Fordingbridge – where
    John Pope was born in 1461.

It was said
that some of the early Popes in Fordingbridge had been head foresters. John Pope died there in 1530 a wealthy
man. Many of his descendants were to prosper in the next century.
Some of them moved to Hertfordshire and
some to
Sussex. Both produced emigrants to
in the 17th century

There was a Pope family at Dorchester in Dorset dating
back to Alexander Pope in 1589. As
Pope & Co Ltd, they took over the local brewery in 1870. These Popes had a distinguished World War One record.
They acquired the Wrackleford estate
outside of Dorchester which remains with descendants today

SE England.
There were early sightings of the Pope name in Suffolk. Hugh le
Pope appeared in the 1273 Suffolk hundred rolls. Ralph Pope was
recorded at Bentley in 1316. Gentleman Henry Pope was born in
Mildenhall in 1465. He made his home in Oxford; as did his

A Pope family had migrated
to Oxfordshire from Kent around the year 1400. They
were small
landowners until Sir Thomas Pope became one of the richest commoners in
as treasurer of the Court of Augmentations during the time of the
Dissolution of
Monasteries in the 1530’s. Much of his
wealth went to
the foundation of Trinity College in Oxford
. The Pope line
which followed descended from his brother John Pope of Wroxton.

Alexander Pope
the 18th century English poet considered himself to have
this Oxford ancestry. His father Alexander was a London linen

The Popes, or Papes or Paips, were one of the prominent families in
Sutherland in the north of Scotland – from the 17th to 19th centuries. Family tradition has it that the first Pope
in the area was a clergyman, a “stranger” named Pope, who had arrived
in the
late 1400’s.

William Pape or Pope was first recorded in that locality in 1580. He and his brothers Thomas and Charles were
involved in a brawl at Durnosh in 1608 that came to be
known as the Pope Riot. Many descendant Popes were clergymen,
most notably the
Rev. Alexander Pope of Reay.

“In 1732 Alexander Pope travelled by pony all the
way to Twickenham in London to meet his namesake Alexander Pope the
poet. Although he at first got a cool
the two men eventually became friends and the poet presented the Rev.
Pope with
a subscription copy of the Odyssey.”

of these Popes emigrated to Australia in the 19th century

Ireland. Popes were to be found in Waterford in the late
1700’s and possibly earlier. Alexander
and Richard Pope had a large shipping business at that time and made a
shipping wine during the Napoleonic embargo.
Their home was at Sion Hill House in Ferrybank.

Another Alexander
Pope, born in Cork, was an actor on the London stage in the late 1700’s. As was his wife Maria. But
her life was tragically cut short at the
age of 28 when she died of a stroke in 1803.

origins in England for two early Pope arrivals in New England and one
early arrival in Virginia are

New England. John
Pope, a weaver
by trade, was first recorded in 1624 in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Later
Popes of his line started a sawmill there, which then expanded into a
larger timber
and shipbuilding operation at East Machias in Maine (and subsequently
relocated to the West Coast). Another
line established itself in Hartford, Connecticut where
Albert Pope began
manufacturing bicycles in the 1870’s
The family was covered in Charles Pope’s 1888 book A
History of
the Dorchester Pope Family

, a cooper, came to Plymouth in 1627 and moved to Dartmouth
around 1673. His son Seth was a
leading merchant
there. The book record here was Dora
Pope’s 1917 book Genealogy of Thomas Pope.

Another Pope of uncertain origins was
Pope, first mentioned in Maryland in 1637. He affixed a mark to
writings, so he was probably illiterate at that time.
He migrated to Westmoreland county, Virginia
in 1651 where he prospered as a planter and merchant. His oldest
daughter Anne
married Colonel John Washington and was thus the great grandmother of
George Washington.

the time of his death in 1660 Nathaniel Pope was among the county’s
residents. The Pope and Washington
families were bound there by more than blood.
County documents are filled with their business and legal ties.”

His line
in America was first covered in G.W. Beale’s 1904 book Colonel
Nathaniel Pope and His Descendants.

There were many Nathaniels among his
descendants, including two Nathaniel
grandsons that have often been confused
John Pope, the son of a Nathaniel one generation later, toured
southern states in 1790 and wrote a book of his travels (A
). He died in Georgia
in 1795. He has sometimes been confused
with his cousin John Pope who moved with his family to Wilkes county,
in 1800.

Other lines of this Pope family led to Kentucky where Colonel William
Pope first laid out the town of Louisville.
One son John, known as “One Arm Pope,” became a US Senator for
in 1807, another son Nathaniel a federal judge in Illinois and friend
Abraham Lincoln.

Another Virginia Pope line began with James Pope
of Northumberland county, first recorded there in 1657.
moved with his parents to Georgia in 1790 and then
purchased land
around Big Spring in Alabama in 1809 where Huntsville now stands. His mansion there, Poplar Grove, was
one of the earliest brick structures in Alabama and remains a prominent
Huntsville landmark.

William Pope came
to Nansemond county sometime in the 1650’s.
A subsequent William, a Quaker, migrated to Edgecombe county,
Carolina in the 1730’s. A century later
Dempsey Pope migrated to Tennessee and then to Illinois.

German. One line of Popes was
originally Pabst from
Germany and came to Berks county, Pennsylvania in the 1730’s. Pope descendants moved first to North
Carolina and then to Cherokee county, Georgia

. Thomas Pope was a Devon timber
merchant who sent three of his sons – John, William and Joseph – to
Edward Island in 1818 in search of timber.

Joseph Pope remained
there. Through his farm and shipyard at
Bedeque he became one of PEI’s most important merchants.
His son James was an influential PEI
politician, serving as premier of the colony in the 1860’s and in 1873
when the
island joined the Canadian confederation. Another
son Henry, also a proponent of confederation, had
been the
editor of The Islander

Pope stayed in PEI for a
while but then returned to Devon as a merchant in 1826.
His two sons followed different directions –
George as a Christian missionary who spent forty years in southern
India and
William as a Methodist theologian in Devon.
third in PEI meanwhile, William
Pope, ended up as a surveyor in Liverpool

A Pope family from the Isle of Wight were assisted immigrants who
arrived in NSW on the William Metcalf
in 1838. In 1846 George Pope became the
postmaster at Ryde, a position he was to hold until his death in 1871.

assisted immigrant was Samuel Pope from Devon who came to Melbourne on
the Royal Consort in 1844. A
year later he had moved to Gawler, South
Australia where he farmed and ran the Wheatsheaf
. He lived there until his death
in 1892. The Rev. Henry Pope from Cornwall was a later arrival in
Australia, around 1867. He was a
Methodist minister, first stationed at Moonta and Kapunda where many
were miners.

Pope Miscellany

If you woud like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Pope Names

Sir Thomas Pope founded
Trinity College in Oxford in 1555.
Alexander Pope
was the
18th century English poet best known for his satirical verse.
John Pope, known as One-Arm
Pope, was the US Senator for Kentucky from 1807 to 1813.
Generoso Pope was the
Italian-American businessman who acquired The National Enquirer tabloid in

Select Popes Today

  • 17,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 23,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 12,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)



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