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Napier


Napier derives originally from the English name given to the royal official of the nappery or linen although it is also a name of great antiquity in Scotland. Tradition says that the Napier family were descended from the ancient Earls of Lennox and it is in a charter of Malcolm, Earl of Lennox in 1280 that the first of the name is mentioned in Scotland; John de Napier held considerable estates in Dunbartonshire and later swore homage with Matthew le Napier de Aghelek to Edward I in 1296. John was also present in 1303 when Edward I besieged Stirling Castle assisting Sir William Oliphant in its defence and hence was fined severely for his patriotism. A descendant of his, William de Napier was governor of Edinburgh Castle in 1401 and his son, Alexander who obtained a charter of the lands and castle of Merchiston was provost of Edinburgh in 1437 and a successful wool merchant. His son Alexander was appointed comptroller, or financial administrator, to King James II in 1440 in virtue of the queen-mother, James's I widow Joan Beaufort. He had been wounded while helping to rescue her and her second husband, Sir James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorne from the hands of the Livingstone faction who held them at Stirling. He was rewarded with the lands of Livingstone. John, the 3rd of Merchiston was killed at Sauchieburn in 1488, but through his marriage to. Elizabeth Menteith whose mother was Lady Margaret, second daughter of Duncan, Earl of Lennox, the family became allied to one of the first families of Scotland. His grandson, Alexander was killed at Flodden in 1513 and his own son, also Alexander was killed at Pinkie in 1547. His son Sir Archibald was knighted in 1567 and made Master of the Mint. His eldest son, John was the celebrated inventor of logarithms and was also an advanced agriculturalist. His son was a Lord of Session and was created Lord Napier of Merchiston in 1627. He was a loyal supporter of Charles I. He fought alongside Montrose at the Battle of Philiphaugh and escaped to Atholl where he died. His son also fought on the Royal side under his uncle the Marquis of Montrose but later died in exile on the continent. The 3rd Lord Napier was the last of the line and the title passed through his sister Margaret to her son Francis who became the 5th Lord Napier. His descendants became renowned for their outstanding military achievements. During the Napoleonic wars there were no less than five Napiers who became Generals.

Thanks to James Pringle Weavers for the following information

NAPIER: While this name was often given to a court official in charge of the royal napery or linen, its true derivation in Scotland is uncertain. Tradition asserts that Scottish Napiers descended from Donald, a son of a 12th century Earl of Lennox who, according to the King, had 'Nae peer' (no equal). Whatever the truth, charters confirm an early affiliation with the House of Lennox, but the blood ties, though strongly indicated, have yet to be established. A John Naper of Dunbarton paid homage to Edward I in 1296 and assisted in the defence of Stirling Castle in 1314. It is in the former shire that the Napiers of Kilmahew were earliest found and it has been asserted that a son of this house moved to Edinburgh where he became prosperous, and where descendants became Bailies and Provosts. In 1438, Alexander Napier, Provost of Edinburgh, acquired the lands of Merchiston from King James I in payment of a debt, and his son, Sir Alexander, built Merchiston Tower c.1460. Sir Alexander was one of the commissioners who arranged the marriage of James III to Margaret of Denmark in 1468, and by this union Orkney and Shetland came to the Scottish Crown. The 3rd laird was killed at Sauchieburn in 1488, his grandson at Flodden in 1513, and great-grandson at Pinkie in 1547. John Napier, the "Wizard", (1550-1617) is celebrated as the inventor of Logarithms and his son, Archibald, 1st Lord Napier, a supporter of Charles I, fought beside Montrose at Philiphaugh in 1645. His title later passed through the female line and in 1699 the family became united by marriage to the Scotts of Thirlestane in Ettrick. Though many Napier fortunes were made in Edinburgh, a strong representation remained in West Stirlingshire where they held, amongst others, Ballikinrain and Culcreuch. Here the Merchiston family also held Edinbellie where the noted inventor reputedly stopping the mill-wheel at Gartness that he might peacefully think. Dumbartonshire cousins David & Robert advanced the technology of steam power, and a 'Napier' automobile was amongst the pioneers. 


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