Was the son of John
Macvey, Kirkintilloch, by a natural daughter of Napier of Craigbarnet,
and was born in 1777.
He received a liberal
education for the profession of the law, and passed as W.S. in Edinburgh
in 1799. His disposition, however, was too sensitive and retiring for
that profession, and he gradually became more occupied in literature, in
which his talents ere long became conspicuous. When Lord Jeffrey retired
from the editorship of the well-known “Edinburgh Review” magazine,
Napier was appointed his successor, and it is allowed that the high
character of the journal was in his hands fully maintained.
When the seventh edition
of the “Encyclopaedia Britannica” was projected, Mr. Napier was asked to
become its editor, and accepted the office. He wrote numerous articles
for it himself, and also secured the co-operation of the best writers
and scientific men of the day; and the publication is admitted to have
been highly creditable to its editor. Mr. Napier died in Edinburgh, nth
February, 1847, aged seventy.