Leyborne-Popham Family

Selina Cuff, Editor of the Chew Valley & Wrington Vale Gazette, wrote on 4 May 2016:

“A South African man is attempting to trace the family of Elizabeth Leyborne-Popham after finding her photo album lost for over 80 years.

The Chew Valley Gazette were contacted by Gavin Rich who is based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Mr Rich was appealing for information following an intriguing discovery:

“A friend and I found an album of Elizabeth Leyborne-Popham’s holiday trip to South Africa in an archived store room of a passenger ship. It has been lying there for about 80 years,” explained Mr Rich.

The photo album, which is thought to have been placed in lost and found back in 1932, has laid unclaimed for over 80 years. Mr Rich was intrigued by the life of its owner and proceeded to carry out some research.

“What I have been able to find out thusfar is…Elizabeth and her parents visited South Africa in 1931/32 departing from Southampton. They visited various areas in South Africa and on her return I assume she misplaced/lost the album.

“I believe she must have been devastated as she recorded her trip through South Africa in this album, which includes photos, passenger lists and telegrams to and from the family while in South Africa,” said Mr Rich.

“From internet searches we assume her parents names were Hugh Francis Arthur and her mother Janet Emily Hunt. She married Owen Lloyd. She was born in Hunstrete Somerset 1909 or 1910, not sure of the year. Further to this the Hunstrete House belonged to the Popham family till 1977.”

If Mr Rich’s research is correct then the owner of the photo album is Elizabeth Leyborne-Popham the daughter of the noted ornithologist Hugh Francis Arthur, whose diaries and notebooks are still held by the Natural History Museum.

It is perhaps her father’s professional passion for documenting nature and travel that inspired Elizabeth’s own detailed recording of their family trip to South Africa. It is also perhaps her father’s work that brought the family to South Africa, an unusual holiday destination at that time, though the early 20th century did see a growing European fascination with the African continent.

Elizabeth and her family are descendants of Sir John Popham the Lord Chief Justice to Elizabeth I who acquired Hunstrete estate in the 17th Century. The area was to become the peer’s country seat, with their primary home being their castle at Littlecote, Wiltshire.

By the late 18th century Francis Popham had extended the estate with it stretching from Hunstrete to Littlecote. It was Francis that conceived the building of Hunstrete House, with no expense spared on its creation.

However by 1956, with the bell tolling for many landed peers the Popham family sold, the now reduced, estate and house to Lord Christopher and Lady Chancellor. The house was then in 1978 converted to a country hotel, most recently being reopened as part of The Pig portfolio of hotels in 2013.

With no further clues to the whereabouts of Elizabeth Leyborne-Popham, who if still living would be 107, or her descendants Mr Rich is asking for the help of the Chew Valley Gazette readers .

“I would dearly appreciate assistance in locating the living family of Elizabeth so that I can return the album as I am sure it would be of huge interest to them,” concluded Mr Rich.”

If you are connected to the Leyborne-Popham family or have any information about where Elizabeth’s family may now reside please call the Gazette on 01275 332266 or email editorial@chewvalleygazette.co.uk”

Pauline Mobey writes:

“Thanks for visiting my website. It is intended to promote my company People & Places, which is really about my interest in genealogy and my research into Littlecote House and its owners.  This research, combined with my experience as a tour guide there, has resulted in my book Littlecote Lives and Legends – The Story of a Great Estate and its Famous Families.

Littlecote House, by the banks of the River Kennet on the border between Wiltshire and Berkshire, is a beautiful, rambling mansion

Do you have Littlecote connections?  Can I help you to discover how you are related to the Pophams, the Leyborne Pophams, the Darrells or the Dayrells?  Or would you just like some help with your family tree?  You can get in touch by using the form on the Contact page. I look forward to hearing from you.”

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