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Napier


NAPIER, a surname of considerable antiquity both in Scotland and England. It is principally, however, Scotch. There is a charter of the 44th of King Henry III. (1259), “Johes le Naper, venator Regis Haveringe, Maner, 18 acres terre messuag. Essex.” According to an old tradition, mentioned in a MS., temp. Charles I., written by Sir W. Segar, Garter king of arms, quoted in Burke’s Commoners, the surname arose from the following event: -- One of the ancient earls of Lennox had three sons; the eldest succeeded him in the earldom, the second was named Donald, and the third Gilchrist. The then king of Scots being engaged in war, and having convocated his subjects to battle, the earl of Lennox was called on, amongst others, to send such force as he could collect to the king’s assistance, which he accordingly did, keeping his eldest son at home with him, but putting his men under the command of his two younger sons. The battle went hard with the Scots, who were not only forced to lost ground, but were actually running away, when Donald snatched his father’s standard from the bearer, charged the enemy with the Lennox-men, changed the fortune of the day, and obtained a victory. After the battle, as the custom was, every one reported his acts, when the king said, “You have all done valiantly; but there is one amongst you who had ‘Nae Peer,’” (that is, no equal); and, calling Donald to him, commanded him to change his name from Lennox to Napier, and bestowed upon him the lands of Gosford, and lands in Fife, as a reward for his service. This is just a specimen of the old legends with which is worthy of the slightest credit. The name was originally Le Naper, and seems most likely to have been derived from an office attached to the court, such as Le Botiler, Le Gros Veneur, &c. In England, says Lower, (English Surnames, vol. ii. p. 206,) William de Hastings, temp. Hen. I., held the manor of Ashele, co. Norfolk, by the service of taking charge of the napery (table-cloths and linen) at the coronation of the English kings.

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NAPIER, Baron, a title in the peerage of Scotland, conferred in 1627 on Sir Archibald Napier, eldest son of Sir John Napier of Merchiston, the celebrated inventor of the Logarithms, of whom a memoir is given below. Merchiston castle, within a mile and a half of Edinburgh, was, from a very early period, the patrimony of the family of Napier, descended from John de Napier, who had considerable estates in the county of Dumbarton, and is mentioned in a charter of Malcolm, earl of Lennox, as early as 1280. He is witness to another charter of the same earl in 1294. Johan le Naper, Johan le Naper de counte de Dunbretan, and Mathew le Naper de Aghelek, swore fealty to Edward I. in 1296.

In 1303, when Sir William Oliphant defended Stirling castle against all the power of Edward I., John de Napier was one of the Scots leaders assisting him. The garrison surrendered in 1304, and were sent prisoners to England. Although Edward heaped various indignities upon the governor and principal men with him, he yet excepted them from being chained. John de Napier was fined in three years’ rent of his estate by the same monarch, for his patriotic adherence to his country’s cause. William de Napier, the third in succession from him, was governor of the castle of Edinburgh in 1401.

William’s son, Alexander Napier, the first mentioned as having acquired the lands of Merchiston, was provost of Edinburgh in 1437. Sir Alexander Napier of Merchiston, his son, held the office of comptroller to King James II., as appears from a charter of that monarch, 7th March 1449-50, of the lands of Philde, Perthshire, then in the gift of the crown by the forfeiture of the Livingstones. In this charter, as in other old documents, the name is spelled Napare. When the queen-mother was in 1439 imprisoned by Sir Alexander Livingstone of Callendar, guardian of James II., Alexander Napier was wounded in her defence. He was one of the ambassadors sent to England in 1451, when he took the opportunity of going on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Thomas á Becket at Canterbury. In 1455 he was provost of Edinburgh. He was also vice-admiral of Scotland, being so designed in a safe-conduct to him as one of the ambassadors to the court of England, 24th September 1461. He had another safe-conduct to go to England in 1464. In 1468 he was sent to Denmark, with the lord-chancellor, to negotiate the marriage between King James III. and the Danish king’s daughter, the princess Margaret. He was employed on several other public occasions, and held the office of master of the household to James III. He died about the end of 1473.

His son, John Napier of Merchiston, was in the household of Mary, dowager of James II., and having been employed in several negotiations with the court of England, had a pension for life of 50 marks sterling from King Henry VI., granted when that monarch came to Scotland, after the disastrous battle of Towton in 1461. He married Elizabeth, one of the two daughters of Murdoch Menteth of Rusky, whose mother was Lady Margaret, second daughter of Duncan earl of Lennox. Elizabeth Menteth was co-heiress with her sister Agnes, wife of John Haldane of Gleneagles, of her brother, Patrick Menteth of Rusky, and John Napier, after his marriage with her, used the designation of Merchiston and Rusky indiscriminately. The disputes between Stewart of Dernely, Haldane of Gleneagles, and Elizabeth Menteth, about the earldom of Lennox, appear to have been finally adjusted, 19th June 1492, when Elizabeth Menteth was left peaceably in possession of the fourth part of the earldom. By this marriage his descendants were allied to the first families in Scotland, and even claimed a connection with the royal family of Great Britain, in consequence of the union of Lord Darnley with Mary, queen of Scots. The Lennox arms appear to have been previously those of the Napiers, as they were used by Alexander Napier the first of Merchiston, and were not first assumed by this John de Napier, on account of his marriage (Douglas’ Peerage, Wood’s edition, vol. ii. p. 283.)

John’s eldest son, Archibald Napier, the next laird of Merchiston, was dead before 8th May 1529. Among various charters which he obtained was one of the lands of Gartness, Rusky, Cailzemuch, &c., on his own resignation, the whole incorporated into the free barony of Edinbellie Napier, 21st May 1509. He was the father, with other children, of Sir Alexander Napier, who succeeded him, and, by a second marriage, of Alexander Napier of Inglistoun, who is supposed to have been the ancestor of the Napiers of Linton-hoo in Bedfordshire, baronets, the direct male line of which terminated in 1747.

The eldest son, Sir Alexander Napier of Merchiston, fell at the battle of Flodden, 9th September 1513. His only son, Alexander Napier of Merchiston, was little more than four years old at his father’s death, and after he came of age he spent several years in France. He was killed at the battle of Pinkie, in September 1547, being then about 38 years old.

His son, Sir Archibald Napier of Merchiston, born before 1535, was knighted in 1565, and appointed master of the mint in 1587. He died at Merchiston castle in May 1608, aged about 74. His eldest son was John Napier, the inventor of the Logarithms, of whom afterwards. Another son, by a second marriage, Sir Alexander Napier of Lauriston, was appointed a lord of session 14th February 1626, and died in 1629. His brother, Archibald Napier, was slain in November 1600, by five of the name of Scott and Thomas Crichton, riding home to his own house to the Wowmit, in revenge for the death of one of their relations, who was killed by him in self-defence.

John Napier of Merchiston, the inventor of the Logarithms, was twice married. His son, by his first wife, Sir Archibald, was the first Lord Napier. John Napier, the eldest by the second marriage, was designed of Easter Torrie. Robert, the second son by that marriage, designed of Drumhony, was editor of his father’s posthumous works, and ancestor of the Napiers of Culereuch, now of Milliken, baronets, of whom afterwards. Alexander, the third son, was designed of Torrie. William, the fourth son, styled of Ardmore, was ancestor of the Napiers of Craigamet; and Adam, the fifth son, of the Napiers of Blackstoun, Renfrewshire.

The eldest son, Sir Archibald Napier of Merchiston, was matriculated at Glasgow university in March 1593. His attention having been early directed to agricultural improvement, he received in June 1598, from James VI., with advice of the lords of the secret council, to him only and to such as he should depute, the royal license for 21 years, to use such manure over all the lands in the kingdom as he should publicly set forth and recommend in print. He accordingly published his plan entitled ‘The new order of gooding and manuring all sorts of field land with common sale, whereby the same may bring forth in more abundance, both of grass and corn of all sorts, and far cheaper than by the common way of dunging used heretofore in Scotland.”

He was appointed gentleman of the privy chamber to James VI., whom he accompanied to London, on his accession to the English throne in 1603. He was sworn a privy councilor, 20th July 1615, constituted treasurer-depute of Scotland for life, 21st October 1622, appointed lord-justice-clerk, 23d November 1623, and two days thereafter admitted one of the lords of session. He resigned the office of lord-justice-clerk, 9th August 1624. He had a license, 14th January 1625, allowing him to export 12,000 stone weight of tallow annually, for seven years, “in remembrance of the mony good serviceis fra tyme to tyme done to his majestie thir mony years gibane, be his right trustie and wel beloved Sir Archibald Naper.” The officers of state having been, by a new regulation entered into after the accession of Charles I., incapacitated from sitting in the court of session as ordinary judges, his majesty appointed Sir Archibald Napier one of the extraordinary lords of session, 15th February 1626. He was created a baronet of Nova Scotia, 2d March 1627, and by warrant of privy seal of 1st May, the same year, a pension of £2,400 Scots yearly was granted to him, for having, at the king’s special desire, advanced to Walter Stewart, gentleman of the privy chamber, the sum of £6,000 Scots.

He was created a peer of Scotland by the title of Baron Napier of Merchiston, by patent dated at Whitehall, 4th May 1627, the honours being limited to the heirs male of his body. He was appointed one of the commissioners of tithes, and obtained a lease of the crown lands of Orkney for 45,000 marks annually, which he subleased to William Dick for 52,000 marks. In March 1631, he surrendered the lease of Orkney, his pension, and the office of treasurer-depute, and was allowed £4,000 sterling, as compensation.

On the breaking out of the civil war in Scotland, he took a decided part in favour of Charles I. When the marquis of Hamilton, with the king’s fleet, arrived in Leith Roads in May 1639, Lord Napier was sent to him with a conciliatory proposal from the committee of Estates, and the marquis soon after retired from the Firth of Forth. Lord Napier was one of those who signed the association formed by Montrose at Cumbernauld in January 1641, for the support of the royal authority. On 11th June the same year, he was apprehended, with Montrose and Sir George Stirling of Keir, and committed prisoner to the castle of Edinburgh, but released 16th November following. In 1644 he was confined by the convenanting party to his apartments at Holyrood-house, with his son, the master of Napier, and his son-in-law, Sir George Stirling of Keir, and commanded not to stir thence under a heavy penalty. The master of Napier, disregarding the injunction, made his escape. The ruling party immediately imprisoned his father, with his brother-in-law, Sir George Stirling, Lady Elizabeth Napier, his wife, and Lilias Napier, his sister, in the castle of Edinburgh, and confined his other sister, Lady Stirling, to the house of Merchiston, In addition Lord Napier had to pay £10,000 Scots, as cautioner for his son, for breaking his confinement.

In consequence of the raging of the plague in the castle of Edinburgh, Lord Napier and his connexions were removed to the gaol at Linlithgow, whence they were liberated by the master of Napier after the battle of Kilsyth. His lordship accompanied the marquis of Montrose to the south of Scotland, and after the defeat at Philiphaugh, escaped with him into Athol. He was left there on account of bad health, and died at Fincastle in November 1645, aged upwards of 70, and was buried in the church of Blair. In 1647, the ruling party threatened to take up his bones to pass a sentence of forfeiture on him, but this was prevented by his friends paying 5,000 marks. He was, says Bishop Wishart, a man “not less noble in his personal accomplishments than in his birth and descent; a man of the greatest uprightness and integrity, and of a most happy genius, being, as to his skill in the sciences, equal to his father and grandfather, who were famous all the world over for their knowledge in philosophy and mathematics, and in the doctrine of civil prudence far beyond them.” Montrose had been accustomed from his earliest years to look up to this gifted nobleman with feelings of reverential and filial awe. He was the author of ‘A True Relation of the Unjust Pursute against the Lord Napier, written by himself, containing an account of some court intrigues, in which he was the sufferer.’ This was published by Francis, seventh Lord Napier, under the title of ‘Memoirs of Archibald, first Lord Napier, written by himself; published from the original MS.,’ Edinburgh, 1793.

By his wife, Lady Mary Graham, second daughter of the fourth earl of Montrose, and sister of “the great marquis” of Montrose, the first Lord Napier had two sons, John, who died young, and Archibald, second Lord Napier, and two daughters, as above mentioned.

Archibald, second Lord Napier, was, like his father, a faithful adherent of the royal cause. After making his escape, when master of Napier, from his confinement at Holyrood-house, as above stated, he joined his uncle, the marquis of Montrose, at the ford of Cardross, 21st April 1645. At the battle of Auldearn, 4th May of that year, he displayed signal valour. He commanded the reserve at the battle of Alford, on 2d July following, and after the victory of Kilsyth, 15th August the same year, he was sent by Montrose, with a select body of horse, to Edinburgh, to summon that city to surrender, and to set the prisoners at liberty. On his way, he had the satisfaction of releasing his father and his wife, with Sir George Stirling of Keir, his brother-in-law, and his sister, from the prison of Linlithgow.

In February 1646, after succeeding to the title of Lord Napier, he hastened to the relief of his tenants who were then oppressed by the marquis of Argyle, and subsequently was besieged by General Middleton at Kincardine, a seat of the marquis of Montrose. After holding out for fourteen days, he was at last obliged to capitulate. The evening previous, however, to the place being surrendered, his lordship made his escape through a postern gate, and joined the marquis of Montrose. When the latter disbanded his army, Lord Napier retired to the Continent. He attended the marquis of Montrose to Paris, where, as appears by a letter from himself to his lady, dated Bruxelles, 14th June 1648, “it was ever sayde yt Montrose and his nephew was like ye Pope and ye church, who wold be inseparable.” When the marquis proceeded to Germany that year, Lord Napier went to Flanders. He was so strongly attached to his uncle that, for the purpose of being near him for facility of correspondence, he refused the command of a regiment in Spain, which was offered him. He was particularly excepted in Cromwell’s act of grace and pardon, 12th April 1654, his lady being allowed £100 a-year out of his forfeited estates, with a farther sum of £50 in July, 1658. He died in Holland in the beginning of 1660. By his wife, Lady Elizabeth Erskine, eldest daughter of John, eighth earl of Mar, he had two sons and three daughters. The Hon. John Napier, the second son, was killed in a sea-fight against the Dutch in 1672, without issue. After the Restoration, Lady Napier obtained a pension of £500 per annum in consideration of her husband’s loyalty and sufferings.

Archibald, third Lord Napier, obtained in 1662 from Charles II. a warrant, addressed to the earl of Middleton, then lord-high-commissioner to the Scots parliament, authorizing him to pay his mother, Lady Napier, and himself £3,000 sterling, for the loyalty shown by them during the civil commotions; but as the warrant is preserved among the Napier papers, it is believed that the money was never paid. Being unmarried, Lord Napier resigned his peerage into the king’s hands 20th November, 1676, and obtained a new patent of the same, with the former precedency, dated at Whitehall, 17th February 1677, granting the title to himself and the heirs of his body; failing them, to his three sisters, Jean, Margaret, and Mary, in succession, and the heirs male of their bodies, with remainder to the heirs of their bodies; and failing them, to his own heirs male whatever; failing all these, to his heirs and assigns whatsoever, the heir female being obliged, on succeeding to the title, and her heirs, to assume the name and arms of Napier. Lord Napier died a bachelor in August 1683.

The Hon. Jean Napier, his eldest sister, predeceased him. She married Sir Thomas Nicolson of Carnock, Stirlingshire, baronet, and had a son, Sir Thomas Nicolson of Carnock, who, on the death of his uncle, became fourth Lord Napier. (See NICOLSON, baronet.) He died in France, 9th June, 1686, in his 18th year, unmarried. The title then devolved on his aunt, Margaret, baroness Napier, second daughter of the second Lord Napier, and widow of John Brisbane, Esq., secretary of the royal navy in England, who died in 1684, while preparing to set out for Portugal, to which country he had been appointed envoy extraordinary. She had a pension of £200 sterling from Charles II., 4th August 1683, on account of the public services of her husband. Lady Napier died in September 1706. She had two sons and a daughter, who all predeceased their mother.

The daughter, Margaret, who, as the last survivor of them, was styled mistress of Napier, married William Scott, Esq., eldest son of Sir Francis Scott of Thirlestane, Selkirkshire, and had, with two daughters, who died young, a son, Francis, fifth Lord Napier.

This nobleman, born 16th November 1703, succeeded to the title when only three years old. He inherited the estate of Thirlestane and the title of baronet, on the death of his father in 1725. He served as a volunteer in the allied army, under the earl of Stair, in the campaign of 1743, and was appointed one of the lords of police in Scotland, 2d October 1761, an office long since abolished. The same year, at his own expense, he procured a survey of a navigable canal to form a communication betwixt the Forth and Clyde. He died at Lewes, Sussex, 11th April 1773. He married, first, Lady Henrietta Hope, third daughter of the first earl of Hopetoun, and by her had, with one daughter, who died in infancy, five sons, namely, 1. William, sixth Lord Napier; 2. The Hon. Charles Napier of Merchistoun Hall, Stirlingshire, Captain R.N., who died, 19th December 1807, in his 77th year, leaving issue by his second wife, Christian, daughter of Gabriel Hamilton, Esq. of Westburn, Lanarkshire. His eldest son was the celebrated Admiral Sir Charles Napier, of whom afterwards. 3. The Hon. Francis Napier, lieutenant-colonel of marines, who died without issue at Dublin in 1779. 4. The Hon. John Napier, lieutenant 25th regiment, who died in Germany, 31st July 1759. 5. The Hon. Mark Napier, major-general in the army, who died 10th June 1809, aged 71, leaving issue. His lordship married, secondly, Henrietta-Maria, daughter of George Johnston, Esq., a cadet of the Hilton family, and had by her three daughters and five sons. The eldest, the Hon. George Napier, born at Edinburgh in 1751, died a colonel in the army and comptroller of army accounts in Ireland 13th October 1804. He had served in the American campaign in 1777, was on Lord Moira’s staff in the duke of York’s expedition in Holland, and was selected to take the command of the 102d or Londonderry regiment, on its being raised. He was one of the most powerful and active men in the British army, and at his death it was said of him that “a better or braver soldier never served his country, a more upright or more diligent servant of the public never filled an office of trust.” In consideration of his services his majesty granted a yearly pension of £1,000 to his widow, Lady Sarah Lennox, seventh daughter of the second duke of Richmond. By this lady he had eight children. His eldest son, Lieutenant-general Sir Charles James Napier, G.C.B., the conqueror of Scinde, was born 10th August, 17182, of whom a memoir is given below.

Vice-admiral Sir Charles Napier, K.C.B., one of the most distinguished of British naval commanders, and remarkable especially for his daring and intrepidity, the eldest son of Captain the Hon. Charles Napier of Merchistoun Hall, Stirlingshire, R.N., above mentioned, was born at Falkirk, 6th March 1786. In the male line, as has been seen, he was a Scott, one of the rough border clan of that name, to which the author of Waverley belonged. At the time of his birth, his father was regulating captain on the Leith station, where his duty was to superintend the entry of seamen for the navy, and to forward them to their destination at the Nore. He spent a great portion of his early years at Merchistoun Hall, with his younger brother, afterwards Major-general Thomas Erskine Napier, in 1854 commander-in-chief of the forces in Scotland. He received his education principally at the high school of Edinburgh, and in 1799, at the age of thirteen, he joined the Martin sloop of war, as a first class volunteer, and went to the North Seas. Removed, in the following spring, to the Renown, 74, the flagship of Sir John Borlase Warren, he sailed to the coast of Spain, and was present in the attack on Ferrol. He afterwards went to the Mediterranean, and in November 1802 became a midshipman in the Greyhound, 32. On his return from a visit to St. Helena in the Egyptienne, he joined successively in 1804-5, the Mediator and Benommée frigates. In November 1805, he got his lieutenancy, as soon as he “passed,” at 19 years of age. He was appointed to the Courageux, 74, which formed part of the squadron of Sir J. B. Warren; and assisted at the capture of the French 80 gun ship the Marengo, and the 44 gun frigate the Belle Poule. In March 1807, being then in the West Indies in the Prince George, 98, he was nominated acting commander of the Pultusk frigate, and the appointment was confirmed by the admiralty on 30th November following. He was present at the reduction of the Danish islands, St. Thomas and St. Croix, and on 17th July 1808, he assisted, with the boats of the Fawn sloop, in cutting out a Spanish merchantman from under two batteries on the coast of Porto Rico, the guns of one of which he spiked. In August of the same year he removed to the Recruit brig of 18 guns. A day or two after receiving the command he came in sight of the French corvette Diligente of 22 guns, making in the direction of the island of Martinique. He immediately gave chase, and the two vessels exchanged broadsides within pistol-shot of each other. Captain Napier was struck by a shot at the very commencement of the action, which broke his thigh-bone, but he refused to go below. The result he told the public, in his own characteristic way, in one of his election speeches at Portsmouth in 1833, “I had once the misfortune,” he said, “of receiving a precious licking from a French corvette; the first shot she fired broke my thigh, and a plumper carried away my main-mast. The enemy escaped, but the British flag was not tarnished.” In February 1809 he assisted at the reduction of Martinique. The Æolus, Cleopatra, and Recruit were ordered to beat up in the night between Pigeon island and the Main, and anchor close to Fort Edward. The enemy fearing an attack, burnt their shipping. With five men he landed in open day, scaled the walls of Fort Edward, and planted the Union Jack on the ramparts. A regiment being landed in the night, Fort Edward was taken possession of, and the mortars turned against the enemy. Sir Alexander Cochrane, his commander-in-chief, wrote him a letter saying, that his “conduct was the means of saving many lives, and of shortening the siege of Martinique.”

In the ensuing April he assisted Sir Alexander Cochrane in a chase of three French ships of the line, which, after a running fight of nearly fifty-five hours, terminated in the capture of the Hautpolt, 74. For his services in this affair, the commander-in-chief appointed him to the command of the captured vessel, and the post commission thus conferred upon him was confirmed by the admiralty 22d May 1809. At this time he was only 23. In the following summer he returned with convey to England in the Jason frigate, and did not again go afloat till 1811. During this interval he served a campaign as a volunteer with the army in the Peninsula, and was present at the battle of Busaco, at which he carried off the field his cousin, Major Napier, afterwards Lieutenant-general Sir Charles James Napier, who was shot through the face. In the course of the campaign he himself was wounded.

In the early part of 1811 he was appointed to the Thames frigate of 34 guns, in which he served in the Mediterranean under Sir Edward Pellew, afterwards Lord Exmouth. On 26th July that year, in concert with the Cephalus under Captain Augustus Clifford, he silenced the fire of eleven gunboats and a felucca moored across the harbour of Porto de Infreschi, as well as that of a round tower, and captured 14 merchantmen, and a quantity of spars destined for a ship of the line and a frigate. On 1st November, in command of his own boats and those of the Imperieuse, he landed with 250 men of the 62d regiment, at the back of the harbour of Palinuro, and carried the neighbouring heights, under a heavy fire from the enemy, who were compelled to retire. Next day he succeeded in capturing 10 gunboats, 22 richly laden feluccas, and the battery of 24-pounders by which they had been protected. In the spring of 1812 he was employed as the senior officer on the coast of Calabria. On 14th May he attacked the port of Sapri, took 28 ships laden with oil, and, supported by the Pilot sloop, compelled a strong battery and tower to surrender at discretion. ON 26th February 1813, in concert with the Furieuse, 36, and with the second battalion of the 10th regiment, he took possession of the island of Ponza, and that without loss, although exposed to the fire of four batteries and a tower. On his removal soon afterwards to the Euryalus, 36, with the aid of his boats he captured, 16th May, La Fortune, xebecque, carrying ten long 9-pounders, four swivels, and 95 men, with upwards of 20 merchant vessels, lying in Cavalrie roads. In the following winter he drove on shore the Balleine French store-ship of 22 guns and 120 men, and compelled a gaberre of 30 guns and 150 men to seek refuge under the land batteries.

Shortly afterwards, on the breaking out of the American war, he sailed with a squadron under Captain King for North America. His services here were chiefly up the Potomac. He took part in the brilliant expedition under Captain, afterwards Vice-admiral Sir J. A. Gordon, against Alexandria, and assisted him in bombarding Fort Washington. After the American batteries were silenced, and their powder magazine blown up, the squadron, carrying with it 21 sail of prizes, safely reached the mouth of the river, on coming down which they found the brushwood swarming with the enemy, who fired a volley of musketry, a ball of which struck him in the neck.

In the subsequent operations against Baltimore, in September 1814, Captain Napier, having a division of boats under his orders, rendered good service in causing a diversion, which favoured an assault upon the enemy’s entrenched camp on the opposite side of the city. In June 1815, his ship, the Euryalus, was paid off, and on the 4th of that month he was made a C.B. He remained unemployed till 1829, and during the interval he directed his attention to the numerous abuses in the management of the navy, and published a number of letters on the subject addressed to Lord Melville, then at t he head of the admiralty, to the Lord-high-admiral (the duke of Clarence), and others in authority, under the signature of a post-captain. On 8th January 1829 he was appointed to the Galatea, of 42 guns, and from that period until the end of 1832 he was employed on particular service on the coast of Portugal. The object of his mission appears to have been to obtain restitution from Don Miguel, who had usurped the Portuguese throne, of certain British ships which had been seized, upon a pretext wholly unjustifiable, off the Western Islands. Of his services on the Portuguese coast, on the part of this country and on that of the constitutional government of Portugal, he has given a detailed account in his ‘History of the War of Succession in Portugal.’

In 1833, Captain Napier succeeded Admiral Satorius, in the command of Donna Maria’s fleet, and on 4th July that year, he achieved a signal victory off Cape St. Vincent over the more numerous and powerful squadron of Don Miguel, by boarding. In this action, the following was the relative strength of the two fleets. Donna Maria’s squadron, under Napier, three frigates, a corvette, and a brig, 176 guns in all. Don Miguel’s squadron, two ships of the line, mounting 86 guns each, a frigate of 52 guns, a 50 gun ship, three corvettes and two brigs, in all 372 guns. The result of this brilliant achievement was the evacuation of Lisbon by the Miguelites, and the establishment of Donna Maria on the throne of Portugal. For this important service he was created by the Portuguese government Viscount Capo San Vincente, and appointed admiral-in-chief of the Portuguese fleet. He also obtained the Grand Cross of the Tower and Sword; but receiving nothing but incivility and ingratitude from the Portuguese officials, he returned to England in the following November. In January 1837 he was awarded the Captain’s good service pension.

On 1st January 1839 he was appointed to the command of the Powerful, 84, fitting for the Mediterranean, with special instructions to take soundings of the Dardanelles, and drawings of the various ports along the coast, &c., all preparatory to the naval operations which were soon after carried into effect in that quarter. In 1840 he hoisted his broad pendant as commodore, and became second in command under Sir Robert Stopford, of the fleet employed on the coast of Syria. He was a principal actor in the brief but brilliant war that ensued for the settlement of what was called the Eastern question. From the landing of the British, Turkish, and Austrian forces in Djounie Bay, he was indefatigably employed in every operation of the war. He obtained a signal success over a force commanded by Ibrahim Pacha, which occupied a strong position among the mountains of Beyrout. The evacuation of the army of Suliman Pacha, with its cannon and stores. On the 24th September he captured Saida, and within a month took about 10,000 prisoners, cleared all Lebanon of the Egyptians, forced Ibrahim Pacha to abandon the passes of the Taurus, and to concentrate the whole of his army at Zachle and Damascus. At Sidon Commodore Napier particularly distinguished himself. On the 3d November Acre was bombarded by Sir Robert Stopford, Commodore Napier leading the division of the squadron which attacked the north side of the town. Immediately after the reduction of Acre, he was sent to Alexandria, in command of a division of the fleet, and there he acted on his own responsibility, and concluded a convention with Mehemet Ali, pacha of Egypt, who agreed to the immediate removal of the Egyptian troops from Syria and the delivery of the Ottoman fleet, on condition of a cessation of hostilities, and his reinstatement in the hereditary government of Egypt. This convention Sir Robert Stopford refused to ratify. The British ambassador at Constantinople and the Ottoman Porte also disclaimed it. It was, however, approved of by Lord Palmerston, then secretary of state for foreign affairs, and formed the basis of the agreement on which the Eastern question, after a protracted correspondence, was settled. For his services in this war, Commodore Napier was created a knight commander of the Bath, 4th December 1840. He was also presented by the monarchs of the different countries with the cross of Maria Theresa of Austria, the cross of St. George of Russia, and the insignia of the second class of the order of the Red Eagle of Prussia.

In the spring of 1841, he returned to England, and, not long after, was elected M.P. for Marylebone. On 30th November of the same year he was appointed one of the naval aides-de-camp to the queen. In 1846 he was made rear-admiral of the blue, and in 1847 appointed to the command of the Channel fleet, which he held for two years. In 1851 he published a volume, containing all the letters on naval reform which he had contributed to the London papers during the previous thirty years, with the title of ‘The Navy, its Past and Present State;’ the Introduction to which was written by his cousin, Major-general Sir William Napier, author of the ‘History of the Peninsular War.’

In 1853 he was promoted to be vice-admiral of the blue. On the breaking out of the Russian war the following year, he was appointed to the command of the Baltic fleet; but with the exception of the taking of Bomarsund, he did nothing whatever in the Baltic sea. He, however, brought home his fleet in safety and good order. In June 1855 he became vice-admiral of the white, and in 1858 admiral of the blue. In November of the same year, on the death of Sir William Molesworth, he was elected M.P. for Southwark. He married the widow of Edward Eiers, Esq., R.N., and their son, Captain Charles Napier, was drowned in December 1847, whilst in command of the Avenger steam frigate, when she was wrecked on the Sorelle rocks in the Mediterranean. Sir Charles Napier died at his seat, Merchiston Hall, Hampshire, November 6, 1860. His portrait is subjoined.


[portrait of Sir Charles Napier]

His cousin, Lieutenant-general Sir Charles James Napier, G.C.B., son of Colonel George Napier, by Lady Sarah Lennox, was born at Whitehall, London, 10th August, 1782. When he was between two and three years old, his father removed to Ireland, and in January 1794, before he had completed his twelfth year, he obtained a commission in the 33d regiment. He first served in the Irish rebellion of 1798, and was aide-de-camp to Sir James Duff, commanding in Limerick, in 1800. In 1803 he again served in Emmet’s rebellion.

In 1804 he received a captain’s commission in the 50th, of which regiment he became major in 1806, and commanded it all through Sir John Moore’s memorable retreat to Corunna. At that famous battle, he and Major Stanhope charged the French most gallantly, which caused Sir John to exclaim, shortly before receiving his death-wound, “Well done, the 50th! Well done, my majors!” In endeavouring to silence an advanced gun which was making great havoc in the British lines, Major Napier was severely wounded and taken prisoner. Besides a bayonet stab in his back from a French soldier who came behind him, he had received a musket-ball in his leg, and a saber-cut on his head. The soldiers were about to dispatch him, when he was saved by the intervention of a drummer, named Gibert, whom Soult afterwards rewarded for his conduct. Having been returned in the Gazette as among the slain, his friends went into mourning for him, and obtained from the Prerogative court administration of his personal estate. In the meantime, he was treated with the greatest kindness by Marshal Soult, who recommended him to the consideration of his successor, Ney. The latter permitted him to return on his parole to England, where he arrived 30th March 1809, and eventually procured his liberation by an exchange. For his gallant conduct in this battle he obtained a medal, then seldom given and much prized.

He subsequently joined Lord Wellington’s army in Portugal as a volunteer. At the Coa two horses were shot under him, and at Busaco, 27th September 1810, he was shot through the face, the bullet lodging behind the ear. He was compelled to travel a hundred miles to Lisbon, for efficient surgical assistance, when the bullet was extracted. He was present at Fuentes, at the second siege of Badajoz, and in many skirmishes. In 1811 he attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the 102d regiment, and went out to Bermuda in command of it. In 1813 he attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the 102d regiment, and went out to Bermuda in command of it. In 1813 he served in the expedition to Chesapeake Bay, under Sir Sidney Beckwith. Afterwards he commanded at the affair of Little Hampton, which proved most successful.

Having made all haste to reach Waterloo as a volunteer, he arrived from Ghent on the field, on the evening of the 18th June, too late to take part in the battle, but he was present throughout the march upon Paris, and at the storming of Cambray. On his homeward voyage to England, the ship he took passage in sunk off Flushing, and he saved himself by swimming.

In 1818 he was appointed inspecting field officer in the Ionian islands, where he executed many public works, designed by himself, and in 1824 was made lieutenant-governor or resident of Cephalonia, when he introduced most important improvements in the administration of justice and in the internal condition of the island. After his return to England, he published a work, entitled ‘The Colonies and the Ionian Islands;’ also, another on ‘The Roads and Bridges of Cephalonia.’

In 1835, the commissioners for the colonization of South Australia obtained for him the offer of the governorship of that colony, but as the government would not allow him either men to defend it, or money to promote its improvement, he declined the appointment. At this time he published ‘Colonization, with Remarks upon Small Farms and Over Population,’ in which he eloquently advocates the rights of native tribes. Having fixed his residence for some time in Dublin, he published, in 1838, a pamphlet treating of the neglected waste lands and defective agriculture, at that period, of Ireland.

In 1837 he obtained the brevet rank of major-general, and soon afterwards he published his ‘Remarks on Military Law, and the Punishment of Flogging,’ which he disapproved of in time of peace. He also, about the same time, edited De Vigny’s ‘Lights and Shadows of French Military Life.’ In March 1839 he was appointed to the command of the northern district of England, and is said to have prevented a Chartist outbreak at Nottingham, by bringing the leaders to witness a review of the troops under his command, when he pointed out to them the fearful inferiority of their half-armed, undisciplined masses to his soldiers. In 1841 he was appointed to the command of the troops in the Bombay presidency, and in 1842 he was sent to Scinde, to take the command of an army of reserve stationed there, to keep open the communications between Generals Nott, English, and Pollok, then advancing into Affghanistan. Here he had to fight at an immense disadvantage. At Meeanee, on 17th February, 1843, he defeated a strong Belooch force of 35,000 men, the force under his command being only 2,700. His own loss at this battle was 20 officers and 250 rank and file, while that of the enemy was 6,000. For this brilliant action he received the grand cross of the Bath. Hyderabad immediately surrendered, and six of the Ameers, on being taken prisoners, offered him their costly swords, which he returned. With 5,000 men against 26,000, he defeated Shere Mohommed, styled the Lion, the most warlike of the hostile Ameers, at the battle of Hyderabad or Dubba, on 24th March. At this battle a Belooch powder magazine exploded close beside him, killing or wounding all around him, singeing his clothes, and breaking his sword in his hand, though leaving him personally unhurt. One feature of his proceedings in Scinde is worthy of special mention. For the first time in the practice of the British army he inserted in his dispatches the names of the private soldiers who had distinguished themselves in battle.

He was now appointed by Lord Ellenborough, then governor-general of India, governor of Scinde, when he abolished the suttee and slavery, and greatly checked the practice of infanticide. He opened canals, and organized a native police force. In a campaign of 54 days in 1845, he completely subdued the hill tribes or mountain robbers north of Scinde. The thanks of both houses of parliament for “the skill and gallantry with which the operations in Scinde were carried on, and for the decisive victories with which they were crowned,” were awarded to him. Besides his other works, he was author of two smaller ones on ‘The Greek Revolution.’

In the spring of 1849, after his return to England, when the disasters of the last Sikh campaign had excited the anxieties of the people of this country, by the advice of the duke of Wellington, Sir Charles James Napier was appointed to the command of the Indian army, and on 24th March of that year, he set out for India, but when he arrived there, he found that the object of the war had been attained. He, however, exerted himself in reforming the flagrant abuses which had grown up in the army, especially among the officers. Having remained in India about two years, he resigned his command and returned to England. He did more, perhaps, to reform the British army than any other general officer of his time. He was particularly opposed to debt and idleness among the officers, and was remarkable for the simplicity of his own style of living. He died Aug. 29, 1853, aged 71. His next brother, General Sir George Thomas Napier, K.C.B., born in 1784, for some years governor at the Cape of Good Hope, lost his right arm at Cuidad Rodrigo, where he led the storming party. He died Sept. 3, 1855, leaving 3 sons and 1 daughter. Another brother, General Sir William Francis Patrick Napier, K.C.B., born in 1785, author of ‘The History of the Peninsular War,’ and of works on the ‘conquest of Scinde,’ on the Poor Law, and on the Corn Laws, with some reviews and works of fiction, died Feb. 12, 1860. A younger brother, Captain Henry Napier, R.N., author of the Florentine History, born in 1789, died in 1853.

William, 6th Lord Napier, born May 1, 1730, became in 1747 a cornet in the Scots Greys, and major Nov. 14, 1770. He sold his commission in 1773, on account of bad health, and the same year he succeeded his father. He was deputy-adjutant-general to the forces in Scotland, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the army from 17th January 1763, till his death, 2d January 1775, in his 45th year. By his wife, Mainie, or Marion Anne, fourth daughter of Charles, eighth Lord Cathcart, he had one son, Francis, seventh Lord Napier, and four daughters. The Hon. Mainie or Marion Shaw Napier, the eldest daughter, married, in 1779, the Rev. Andrew Hunter of Barjarg, D.D., then one of the ministers of Dumfries, afterwards professor of divinity in the university of Edinburgh, and one of the ministers of the Tron church in that city. Dr. Hunter died 21st April 1809. His youngest son, the Rev. John Hunter, became one of the ministers of the Tron church, Edinburgh, in October 1832.

Francis, seventh Lord Napier, born at Ipswich, 23d February, 1758, entered the army as ensign in the 31st foot, 3d November 1774, and became lieutenant of the same regiment 21st March, 1776. He served in America under General Burgoyne, in the war of independence, and was one of those who surrendered with him to General Gates at Saratoga the following year. After being detained a prisoner for six months, he obtained permission to return to Europe on parole, not to serve in America until regularly exchanged, which took place in October 1780. On 17th November 1779, he had purchased a captain’s commission in the 35th foot, and after being on half-pay for a short time, he exchanged to full pay as captain in the 4th foot, 31st May, 1784. On 29th December following, he purchased the majority of that corps, but sold out in 1789.

On the 16th September of that year, Lord Napier, as grand master mason of Scotland, laid the foundation of the new university buildings of Edinburgh, Dr. Robertson, the historian, being at that time principal. On the 11th November he had the degree of LL.D. conferred on him by the university.

In 1793, when the Hopetoun fencibles were embodied, his lordship was appointed lieutenant-colonel of that corps, and held the commission until it was disbanded in 1799. He was elected one of the sixteen Scots representative peers in 1796, and appointed lord-lieutenant of Selkirkshire, 17th November 1797. Nominated high-commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1802, he annually filled that office for nearly twenty years. On 10th November 1803, he was elected a member of the society in Scotland for propagating Christian Knowledge, and on 3d February 1806, he was constituted a member of the board of trustees for the encouragement of Scottish fisheries and manufactures. His lordship died 1st August 1823.

His eldest son, William-John, eighth Lord Napier, born at Kinsale 13th October 1786, entered the navy at the age of 16, and was a midshipman on board the Defiance at the battle of Trafalgar. In 1809 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and five years afterwards to that of post-captain. In 1815, at the age of 29, owing to the peace, he retired from active service, and entered the university of Edinburgh. He afterwards turned his attention to agricultural pursuits, and was long distinguished in the south of Scotland as an improver in store-farming.

In 1824, the year after he had succeeded to the title, he was appointed to the command of the Diamond, bound for the South American station. In the course of three years he again retired from active service, and returned to Scotland. In 1833, he was appointed superintendent of the trade and interests of the British in China. Finding, on landing at Macao, in July 1834, that the governor of Canton was disposed to obstruct his farther progress until notice of his arrival should have been sent to the court at Pekin, he determined to proceed in spite of every obstacle. On the 24th of that month, he sailed up the Canton river, and next morning arrived at the British factory. Commercial transactions between the British and Chinese merchants were immediately prohibited by the governor, in consequence of which his lordship sent the Imogene and Andromache frigates up the Bogue river. They were fired at by the forts, which in return they battered about the ears of the Chinese soldiers. This occurred on the 7th September, but, owing to calms, the ships were obliged to come to an anchor for several days. On the 14th, Lord Napier became seriously indisposed, and that the interests of the British merchants might not be injured by a farther suspension of their trade, the men of war were ordered “to move out of the river,” and he returned to Macao, where he died 11th October 1834, of a lingering fever, brought on by anxiety. He was one of the 16 Scots representative peers. With four daughters, he had two sons; Francis, who succeeded him, and William, clerk of the works at Hong-Kong.

Francis, the elder son, 9th Lord Napier, born Sep. 15, 1819, married, in 1845, the only daughter of Robert Manners Lockwood, Esq., issue, 4 sons. In Aug. 1840, he was attached to the embassy at Vienna, and in Sep. 1842, appointed paid attaché at Constantinople, in May 1846, secretary of legation at Naples, in April 1852 secretary of legation at St. Petersburg, and in April 1854, secretary of embassy at Constantinople. In 1857 he was appointed British minister at Washington, and in 1858 at the Hague. His eldest son, William John George, was born Sep. 22, 1846.

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The head or chief of the ancient family of Napier, is Sir Robert Milliken Napier of Napier and Milliken, Renfrewshire, bart., descended from Robert Napier of Culcreuch, Stirlingshire, the 2d son of the 2d marriage of John Napier of Merchiston, the inventor of Logarithms. He is, therefore, his lineal representative and male heir. Robert Napier left one son, Alexander Napier of Culcreuch, born in 1621, who married Margaret, eldest daughter of John Lennox of Woodhead, or Lennox castle, Stirlingshire, and died in 1692. His eldest son, John Napier of Culcreuch, born in 1665, married his cousin, Jean Lennox of Woodhead, and died in 1734. The son of John, William Napier of Culcreuch, a general in the army, married Jane, daughter and heiress of James Milliken, Esq. of Milliken, Renfrewshire, and on his death in 1780, left a son, Robert John Milliken Napier, who took the name of Milliken, in compliance with the will of his maternal grandfather. He was senior colonel in the army, and commanded at the siege of Mangalore, in the East Indies. He died in1808, from wounds received in action, at the age of 43.

His only son, Sir William Milliken Napier of Napier and Milliken, baronet, born in 1788, married in 1815, Elizabeth Christian, 5th daughter of John Stirling, Esq. of Kippenross, Perthshire, with issue, 2 sons and 1 daughter. He was served heir male general of Archibald, 3d Lord Napier, March 17, 1817, and succeeded to the baronetcy of Nova Scotia, which had been conferred on the first Lord Napier, March 2, 1627. Sir William died Feb. 4, 1852.

His eldest son, Sir Robert John Milliken Napier of Napier and Milliken, 10th baronet, born Nov. 7, 1818, married, April 4, 1850, issue, 3 sons and 3 daughters. Archibald Lennox, the eldest son, was born Nov. 2, 1855.

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The Napiers of Ballikenrain, Stirlingshire, were an ancient family. The last in the male line, John Napier, Esq. of Ballikenrain, was the 16th of the name and family of Napier who, in succession, possessed the estate. His heiress married Robert Dunmore, Esq., whose second son, John Dunmore Napier, Esq., inherited his mother’s lands.

NAPIER, JOHN, of Merchiston, the celebrated inventor of the Logarithms, was born at Merchiston castle, near Edinburgh, in 1550. Local tradition had pointed to Drumbeg, a common thatched farmhouse in the parish of Drymen, Stirlingshire, as his birthplace, when the earl of Buchan, who wrote a biography of him, showed, by an inscription on Napier’s portrait, engraved by Cooper from an original painting, that he was born at Merchiston castle. Part, however, of his patrimonial inheritance lay in the parish of Drymen. He was the eldest son of Sir Alexander Napier of Edinbellie and Merchiston, master of the mint to James VI., by his first wife, Janet, only daughter of Sir Francis Bothwell, a lord of session, and sister of Adam, bishop of Orkney. At the time of his birth, his father was only sixteen years old. He was educated at St. Salvator’s college, St. Andrews, which he entered, it is stated, in 1562-3. He afterwards, according to Mackenzie, spent several years in France, the Netherlands, and Italy; and on his return to his native country, about 1571, he applied himself closely to the study of mathematics. It is conjectured that he acquired a taste for this branch of learning during his residence abroad, especially in Italy, where at that period there were a considerable number of mathematicians of reputation.

While at college, during his “tender years and bairn age,” he contracted an intimate friendship with a Roman Catholic gentleman, whom he styles his “familiar,” and frequently defended the Reformers and their doctrines against his attacks. At the same time, he was also an attentive hearer of the sermons of that worthy Englishman, Mr. Christopher Goodman, on the Apocalypse; and his interpretation of its mysteries, as applied to the papists, determined him, to use his own words, “with the assistance of God’s Spirit, to employ his study and diligence to search out the remanent mysteries of that holy booke.” The fruits of this resolution appeared in his ‘Plain Discovery of the whole Revelation of St. John,’ published at Edinburgh in 1593; in the dedication of which to the king, he urged his majesty to attend to the enforcement of the laws and the protection of religion, beginning reformation “in his own house, family, and court.” From this work it appears that, amidst his various mathematical speculations, Napier paid some attention also to the cultivation of poetry, for prefixed is a metrical address to Antichrist, and certain versified prophecies out of the Oracles of Sybilla are annexed. The same year (1593) he was chosen by the General Assembly one of the commissioners appointed to assemble at Edinburgh to counteract the designs of the Roman Catholics for the overthrow of the Reformed faith, then recently established. In 1596 he published a ‘Letter to Anthony Bacon, (brother of Lord Bacon,) entitled Secret Inventions, profitable and necessary in these days for the Defence of this Island, and withstanding Strangers, Enemies to God’s Truth and Religion,’ His portrait is subjoined.


[portrait of John Napier]

Napier had for several years directed his inquiries to the discovery of a short and expeditious method of calculation, to facilitate the solution of trigonometrical problems, and at length his efforts were crowned with the most complete success. In 1614 he produced his book of Logarithms, by which the science of astronomy and the arts of practical geometry and navigation have been wonderfully aided and advanced. The work, entitled ‘Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Descriptio,’ was dedicated to Prince Charles, afterwards Charles I. This important discovery soon made his name known all over Europe, and Kepler dedicated his Ephemerides to the inventor of the Logarithms, considering him the greatest mathematician of his age. In his last work, styled ‘Rabdologiae, seu Numeratio per Virgulas,’ in two books, published in 1617, Napier describes a method of performing the operations of multiplication and division by means of a number of small rods, which continue to be known and used by the name of Napier’s Bones. This illustrious mathematician died at Merchiston castle, April 3 or 4, 1617, and was buried in the church of St. Giles at Edinburgh. He was twice married; first in 1571, to Elizabeth, daughter of Sir James Stirling of Keir, by whom he had a son and a daughter; secondly, to Agnes, daughter of James Chisholm of Cromlix, in Perthshire, by whom he had five sons and five daughters. His eldest son, Archibald, was the first Lord Napier of Merchiston.

During a considerable part of the period of his being employed in his calculations he resided at the house of Gartness on the Endrick, in the parish of Drymen, close to a romantic cascade, called the Pot of Gartness. The incessant sound of the cascade, it is said, never annoyed him, while the clattering noise of a mill in the immediate neighbourhood so shattered his thoughts that he was frequently obliged to request the miller to stop its movements. Accustomed frequently to walk out in the evening in his nightgown and cap, and wearing an aspect of deep abstraction, he obtained the reputation among the country people in his vicinity of being a warlock. Hume, in his History of England, says of him, that he was “the person to whom the title of ‘Great Man’ is more justly due than to any other whom his country ever produced.” In his ‘Provincial Antiquities,’ Sir Walter Scott refers to a curious contract existing in the charter chest of Lord Napier, betwixt Logan of Restalrig, who is said afterwards to have leagued with the earl of Gowrie in his conspiracy against James VI., and the inventor of the Logarithms, dated in July 1594, by which Napier bound himself to go to Berwickshire, and “use all craft and ingine” (genius or ingenuity) to discover a treasure alleged to have been hidden within Logan’s house of Fast castle. For his reward he was to have the third of what was found, and to be safely guarded by Logan back to Edinburgh. And in case he should find nothing, he refers the satisfaction of his labour and pains to the discretion of Logan. It has been suspected by Mr. Mark Napier, in his ‘Memoirs’ of his great namesake, that Logan had another object in view than that expressed in the contract. Napier seems to have sustained some serious injury from the unprincipled laird of Restalrig, as appears from the terms of a lease granted in 1596, by which his tenant is prohibited from subletting his land to any one who should bear the surname of Logan.


Life of Robert Napier of West Shandon (pdf)
It is often said that the Clyde made Glasgow, and the object of this volume is to relate in some detail the life of one who, by his energy and perseverance, caused the Clyde to become the most famous shipbuilding centre in the world, and thereby contributed most materially to building up the fabric of what is now called the second city in the Empire.


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