Изображения страниц

But since our antiquary will not admit the authority of Sir Archibald Napier, nor the evidence of any transcript of his original certificate, nor the universal admission and belief of all the " Scoto-English Napiers" themselves, to prove this cadency from Merchiston, surely he will admit the contemporary and official record of the fact. Now that genealogy, put on record in the lifetime of Sir Robert and Dr Richard Napier, stands thus:

[merged small][table]

It would appear from the above, that the second Sir Robert had not yet succeeded his father in the baronet

* MrRiddell has two very valuable and instructive pages (135,136) to prove that Isabel Litill (the wife of Alexander Napier of Ingliston) could not be AnnBirchely (the wife of Alexander Napier of Exeter ;) and he also gives the history of one Helen Litill, whom he has not connected with Isabel, but supposes them sisters purely for the sake of indulging in the following sarcastic remark: "Admitting the fact, which seems extremely likely, the Napiers would then be connected with royalty, for it is a curious circumstance, and one possibly little known, that Helen was 'nourice' (nurseJ to James VI. which lacteal relationship, it is not improbable, may have tended to aggrandize them," i. e. the family of Merchiston. If the author of the Tracts will write nonsense, he might enliven it a little; he should have called the hypothetical relationship, a milky-way to preferment, of more avail than the paths of their astronomy. But they had a " lacteal relationship" to royalty, though that had little to do with their aggrandizement. Annabella, the Countess of the cy, and it is certain that his uncle, Dr Richard, did not die until 1st April 1634. Upon a comparison with Dugdale, it is obvious that before 1696 the boy Robert,* son of Sir Robert's first marriage, had failed, and that his father had, subsequently to 1633, two other sons, John and Alexander, by his second wife.

Here, then, is the first Sir Robert's Merchiston origin admitted in his own time, if not actually recorded by himself; and also the name of his mother, Anne Birchley,

good Regent Mar, and Sir Archibald Napier of Merchiston, were sisters' children. This lady, it is well known, was intrusted with the infant person of James VI.,—" his Hieness continuing under her noriture as towards his mouthe, and ordering of his person." Whether she nourished him at her own bosom, or consigned that "lacteal relationship" to Helen Litill, I leave as a question worthy of Mr Riddell's minute researches. Upon one occasion, all the ladies of the household, including the Countess, were called out of bed in the middle of the night, because the royal babe was seized with colic; it was remarked that the Countess had a shift on,—a rare event in those days,—and the excuse assigned was, that her ladyship was " tender," i. e. in delicate health.

* This boy Robert had a splendid genealogy through his mother. Her mother was the daughter of Thomas Howard, Viscount Bindon, whose father was Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey and Duke of Norfolk, and her mother, Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckinghame.

Luton-hoo became extinct in the male line about the middle of the last century. Dr Charles Loudon, M. D. of Leamington Spa, very kindly commenced a correspondence with me from that place on the subject of the antiquities of Merchiston, and has furnished me with some very interesting information. Among the rest, he mentions, that, happening to broach the subject in the family of Cox of Eaton-Bishop, Miss Cox said, " we are descended from that family, (Merchiston,) and possess our estate of Eaton-Bishop in Herefordshire through our ancestor Dr Napier, who was a physician in the time of James I., Charles I., and even physician to Old Noll." This was accidentally communicated to me by the polite attention of a stranger, who had not the slightest knowledge of the matter being controverted in Scotland.

in right of whom Sir William Segar adds to the Lutonhoo quarterings, " the 4th partye ane cheveron or and vert, S birchen branches counterchanged of the field by the name of Birchely ;" while he gives for her husband, "The first, argent ane salter engralled betwixt four roses rubies, by the name of Napier."

The above details were not inserted in the voluminous Memoirs of Merchiston, nor have they been given now as fully as they might. So much, however, was rendered necessary by what has been quoted from Mr Riddell's recent work, and also from what follows: "The learned gentleman, while charging Sir Walter with ignorance,* owing to this remark, positively affirms that these two Napiers and the Inventor of Logarithms were near relatives,—nay, even brother's sons,—which circumstance, he rightly adds, is not generally known ;— in this event, they would be sons of a younger brother (although a nonentity it is conceived) of Sir Archibald the Inventor's father, and grandsons of Alexander Napier of Merchiston. It would have been highly obliging if Mr Napier had condescended upon evidence of the fact, which, if true, might have been had in abundance, owing to the recentness and extreme nearness of the connection."

There are other families of the name of Napier, besides Luton-hbo, mentioned in the first Lord's certificate,

* Tracts, p. 137. May we suggest, that to alter the plain words of an author, so as to pervert them from an innocent and respectful, to an offensive and derogatory meaning, is not within the pale of legitimate controversy. The author ( Memoirs, p. 7, note J alludes to Sir Walter Scott's sagacity in conjecturing that Dr Richard Napier was "of the stock of the Scottish Napiers;" and he adds, "our illustrious author was not aware of the near relationship," &c. Indeed the fact was sufficiently honoured by Sir Walter's notice.

as derived from another cadet of Merchiston, who settled in England at an earlier period than the father of King James' baronet, and the cunning Richard. This cadency became highly distinguished in its various branches of Tintinhull, Puncknoll, Middlemarchall and Morecritchill. The position of their common ancestor on the Merchiston tree is thus stated in the copy of the certificate in my possession. “Sir John Napier of Merchiston and Ruskie had issue Archibald, father to Sir Alexander and James. James aforesaid, coming into England in time of King Henry VII, and first planting himself in Swire in the county of Dorsett, who had issue Edward of Oxford and Swire, James of Middlemarchall in the county of Dorsett, Nicollas Naper of Tintinhull, in the county of Summersett; from the elder brother Edward, descended the Napers of Oxford; the second brother James of Middlemarchall, was father to Sir Robert Naper of Middlemarchall, sometime Lord chiefe Barron of Ireland, and father to Sir Nathaniel Naper; James had divers others issues, being grandfather to John Naper and Robert Naper of Puncknoll, in the county of Dorsett, Esq. and divers others of that name, now living in that county. Nicollas Naper of Tintinhull in the county of Summersett, hath also divers issues.” Such, generally, was the state of that cadency in the year 1625, when Sir Archibald Napier wrote this account, and he is amply corroborated by the historical antiquities of England, at least as to the existence of the individuals whom he here mentions. Robert Naper is recorded in the Fasti Oxonienses, as of Exeter College, A. B. 1561. He became a student of law, and was by Queen Elizabeth raised to the bench as Lord Chief Baron of Ireland in 1593, and knighted. He was high sheriff of Dorsetshire in 1606, died 20th September 1615, and is buried in the church of St Andrew at Mintern-Magna. He married Magdalene, daughter of Sir Anthony Denton, and their only son was that Sir Nathaniel who is mentioned by Sir Archibald Napier as alive in 1625. He was knighted by King James at Newmarket in 1617, was high sheriff of Dorsetshire in the 18th year of that reign, and represented it in Parliament in the first year of the reign of Charles I. that is 1625. He built a splendid mansion at Morecritchill, which became the chief seat of his family. Sir Nathaniel also reposes in the church of St Andrew at Mintern-Magna, and upon his tomb is inscribed, “Here lies the body of Sir Nathaniel Napier, the only son of Sir Robert, of much esteem and honour in this county, who died the 6th of September 1635.” Above his tomb, and above his father's tomb, amid the quarterings and impalements of this family, the shields which occupy the first armorial place are, Napier, a saltier engrailed between four roses. This junior branch of the eldest English cadency from Merchiston, continued (to a comparatively modern date, when it became extinct in the male line,) through Sir Nathaniel, Sir Gerard, &c. to enjoy successively high distinction in the county of Dorset as sheriffs and representatives in Parliament,-forming alliances with the families of Gerard, Colles, Windham, Guise, Worsley, Wymondly, Phelips, and Oglander,—sufferingforloyalty, receiving royal progresses at Morecritchill,—and laying their bones in St Andrew's of Mintern-Magna, under the heraldic story of the St Andrew's Cross of the Levenaa, which no one of them ever doubted. Sir Nathaniel married Elizabeth, sole daughter and heir of John Gerard, Esq. of Hyde in the Isle of Purbeck; she died on the 7th of October 1624; all this

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »