Debbie has read in the history pages that “by 1871 Kings Norton had a Nursery Garden owned by Mr Henry Pope”. She is currently researching her family history and believes that Henry was a son of Thomas Pope who was in turn the eldest son of Luke Pope (born 1740).

She is looking for information on the nursery, when it was established, its location etc. She thinks that the Pope family had several established nurseries in the Smethwick / Handsworth / Cotteridge area and is trying to establish if Henry set the nursery up himself or if in fact it was in Cotteridge before this and his father Thomas established it.

9 Responses to “Popes Drive”

  • Tony:

    Tony wonders if these Popes might have given their name to Popes Lane, which runs between Wychall Lane and Middleton Hall Road.

  • Steven:

    Stephen Worthington replies:
    Popes Drive was indeed named after the Pope family Debbie mentions. My grandfather remarried almost two decades ago, and we quickly discovered that my step-grandmother was a direct descendant of the Pope family; a family she knew next to nothing about. My father (David Worthington) has since researched the family and found that they were extremely important in the Birmingham area during their day, with several plant nurseries dotted around the city. One of the nurseries relocated to what was then into countryside, in Kings Norton, and the two brothers had houses either side of a small road leading to their nursery. That drive was, as you may have guessed, Popes Drive.

  • Wendy:

    Has David Worthington published any of his research on the Pope nurseries? My father, Ronald Pope, told me that someone in our family once had a nursery at the end of Pope’s Lane, but I had no idea that there was a whole horticultural dynasty until I started to try to connect an etching of Luke Pope with the artist Henry Pope, who my great aunt told me was my great great grandfather. As far as I can see, he wasn’t – he was his brother, but he seems to have married my great great grandfather’s widow (which I’m sure was illegal at the time).
    As a keen gardener I’m really pleased to discover that gardening is in my genes, but don’t know where to look for more information about the development of the nurseries.

  • Carla Sheasby:

    I have found information online about the POPE family :
    “Luke Pope of Smethwick founded a notable firm of nurserymen specializing in tulips and later in North American shrubs and plants. He was successively described as gardener, seedsman, and nurseryman during the late 18th and early 19th centuries when he was buying up various small copyhold estates in Smethwick. By 1771 he had established nurseries in the north-east of Smethwick near the Ruck of Stones farm, and by the mid 19th century the firm, then known as John Pope & Sons, also had nurseries in the adjacent parts of Handsworth and West Bromwich. (fn. 67)”

    Birmingham City Archives acquired this:
    Luke Linnaeus Pope: volume of botanical watercolours c1825 (MS 2138) they have published a few of the drawings – see :

    he is my 4th great grandfather on my father’s side of the family
    since I live in Oz I am unable to see the book of drawings in Bham but if anyone else gets access please ask them to publish more via the Ironroom website – thanks … I also have the artistic gene by the way !

  • Tracy:

    Steven, Wendy and Carla.

    My name is Tracy and I live in the USA, Charles Pope the brother of Henry is my Great Grandfather (Charles not Henry). I have been researching the family history since 2003 and have managed to put together several family members. I believe that there are still 2 maybe 3 branches of the family yet to discover. I think you may be them. I have a copy of the book about Henry entitled, “The Life and Times of Henry Pope” as well as several birth/death and marriage certs. I am at a loss as to how we might all get in touch with each to compare notes but I would bet my research that we are all in fact related. There are cousins in the USA, Germany, France, Wales, Scotland and of course, England.

  • Izzy:

    Steve, Wendy and Carla,

    I hope this response is not too many years out of date. I am researching a Pope ancestor called Ebenezer Pope who was born in 1764 whereabouts unknown. But he died aged 31 in 1795 of smallpox having become an apothecary at the public dispensary in Lincoln’s Inn. I have reason to believe he may be from the same family as Luke Pope and that he might have come from Birmingham. His widow, Anna-Maria Eves then married the Hon. John Coventry (family home quite near Birmingham) but she had obviously gone to live there after Ebenezer’s death – or so it say’s in their engagement. Possibly the Birmingham Pope family had looked after her? We have a family Armiger for him but cannot trace his birth or anyone else with that coat of arms.

  • I have in my possession the family bible of the Pope family… it dates back to 1814
    If anyone would like it, please get in touch via email..

  • Brian Young:

    According to Raymond Desmond, Dictionary of British & Irish Botanists & horticulturalist (1994) page 558. Henry Pope died 16th June 1891 and he was mentioned in The Gardeners Chronicle in 1891 vol i page 795. I assume an obituary, his son John died 26th January 1918 and is mentioned in The Gardener’s Chronicle 1918 vol.i page 62. (another obituary) John must have been wealthy as in 1898 he paid £100 for three dafodil bulbs of Will Scarlet’ at the Birmingham Daffodil Show. I have assumed that Henry’s father was Luke Pope also a Nurseryman as John Pope has a son called Luke Linnaeus Pope who was a botanical artist who drew the plants raised by his father.

    Hope this helps

  • Anonymous:

    The Popes: Nurserymen of Birmingham

    I have just been to a really interesting talk at Birmingham Botanical
    Gardens, about the Pope Family. The speaker, David Worthington, plans to
    write a book on the subject.
    Luke Pope rented land in Smethwick in the 1700’s, alongside a lock on
    James Brindley’s canal, where he built the “New Navigation” (not the
    current building) and made a fortune from selling beer to passing
    boatmen. The vicinity now includes Pope Lock, Pope Bridge and Pope
    Street. He also developed a plant nursery an adjacent land, and set up
    each of his three sons with their own Nurseries, the others being at
    Gibb Heath (part of Handsworth) and on the Holyhead Road. The latter
    specialised in Hawthorns. It lay derelict after the next generation
    moved to Kings Norton in the 1860’s (where there is now a Pope Lane),
    but so many of those plants remained that their name was given to the
    football ground later erected on the site. This branch of the family
    supplied plants to the Earl of Dartmouth at Sandwell Hall, to James Watt
    and to Mathew Boulton at Soho House, as well as James Watt’s son during
    his stay at Aston Hall. They also supplied specimens for the original
    planting at the Botanical Gardens (and were paid in kind, with cuttings
    and seed of other acquisitions).
    One of Luke’s Grandsons, the appropriately- named Linnaeus, was a water
    colour artist. He produced for volumes, each of 100 original,
    unpublished but exquisite plant illustrations, all of which were
    believed lost until one was sold to a book dealer at an auction in the
    USA last year. This has since been purchased by the City and is in the
    Local Studies section of our Central Library.
    The Kings Norton nursery, run jointly with a cousin called Morris,
    became specialists in Narcissi, breeding new types including ‘Mrs Pope’
    and ‘Kings Norton’. These are sadly no longer known in cultivation
    (unless you know different?).
    The only remaining Pope- family named plant is Primula ‘Linda Pope’
    (syn. P. ‘Linda Pope’). Does anyone on urg grow this, or know of a
    Are there any other plants named after (parts of) Birmingham, or
    Birmingham celebrities?

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