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of course is redargued by the evidence of the two seals, holding both or either of them to be genuine."*
There are several other ancient races of Napier besides Merchiston, none of which carry the Lennox shield, though some of them were for centuries distinguished vassals of the Lennox, while Merchiston was planted in the Lothians. The theory of vassalage fails, therefore, as an explanation of the Lennox arms of the latter. Nor have I been able to trace Merchiston into a cadency with any of the other families of the name. Mr Riddell has indeed asserted, "It is not unlikely that the first Alexander Napier of Merchiston was a younger son of some of the feudal stocks of Napier, the most ancient of whom was the family of Kilmahew; Mr Thomas Crawfurd, Professor of Mathematics in the College of Edinburgh, an antiquarian of some note, and who lived in the reign of Charles I., says, that the family of Merchiston before the time of their elevation to the peerage, impaled the arms of Kilmahew with Lennox, which, according to Nesbit and Mackenzie, they bore as descended from the Lennox coheir. Sir David Lindsay also, in his blazoning of their arms, while he inserts the Lennox insignia, leaves two quarters vacant, evidently for the reception of others, which rather tends to corroborate Crawfurd's account."*
* See Memoirs of Merchiston as to these seals.
Mr Riddell observes, "Mr Napier supposes that the first Alexander died in 1454, but there is.no proper evidence of the fact." As the fact is of no importance, except in the eyes of such minute writers as the author of the Tracts, the proofs were not given. There is no question that the first two Napiers of Merchiston were Alexanders, for in a deed dated 6th September 1432, Alexander junior is designed son and heir of Alexander senior. The latter was only designed of Merchiston, and burgess of Edinburgh. The former, after the gift of Philde to him in 1449, is designed of Philde, and sometimes comptroller, down to 22d July 1454 inclusive. After that date, he is invariably designed of Merchiston, and militem, and sometimes master of household. In the deed to which Seal 1. is attached, dated a few days before the close of 1453, Alexander is simply styled "burgess of Edinburgh." Hence it is likely that the first Alexander died at an advanced age, about the year 1454. Mr Riddell objects to the supposition that a man survived to 1454 who was Provost in 1403! But the second seal corroborates the Jirst, even if they both belonged to the same Alexander. Seal 2, is impressed on a paper obligation dated April 1452, by " Alexander Napare of Philde" to James II. Seal 3, is John of Rusky's in 1482.
But these quotations could only have been made for the sake of contradiction. In the Memoirs of Merchiston there is an engraved plate of the seals of that family taken from the family papers, and arranged in chronological order, from Alexander the first of Merchiston to the Inventor of Logarithms inclusive. Every one of these seals carry a shield with precisely the same bearings, namely, the engrailed saltier and roses, without a vestige of quartering. The seal of the philosopher's son is also engraved beneath his portrait in the work, the seal of his son, the second Lord, is in the charter-chest, and both carry the same as above. Of course these nine successive seals, holding them to be genuine, refute both Mr Crawfurd, who had not the benefit of the proof, and Mr Riddell, who had; and when the latter ingenious antiquary, in support of his repetition of Crawfurd's error, quotes Sir David Lindsay,—who, in his manuscript adversaria, places the Merchiston coat quarterly, but with the hypothetical quarters blank,—we may well say of the author of the Tracts what he has said of Crawfurd the peerage writer, "our genealogists are odd logicians."f
Upon the supposition that the surname of Napier * Tracts, p. 125. t Ibid. p. 131.
of Merchiston was originally that of the old Earls of Lennox, it is not necessary to adopt the canting story of its change to Napier, which may be a fancy subsequently superinduced upon a true tradition of lineage. An office in the royal household might have effected the alteration, and, moreover, distinct families may upon other occasions have in like manner acquired the same surname. * The following antiquarian particulars regarding the name, both in England and Scotland, were collected some years ago in compiling the Memoirs of Merchiston. They not only tend to show how distinct the race of Merchiston appears to be from all the other ancient races of the same surname, but in themselves possess more or less of antiquarian interest.
Of the old English Naperers, being the earliest Napiers on record.
Centuries before the English and Irish Napiers had branched from the stock of Merchiston, and prior to the date generally attributed to the Lennox tradition of that family, some of a similar surname existed who were freeholders and tenants in Essex, and other counties of England. From these I am not aware that any family extant can, or ever pretended to deduce an origin; nor had their appellation any claims to the reputed derivation of the peerless ancestor of Merchiston. The voluminous records in the tower of London present these forgotten worthies, rari nantes in gurgite vasto. I note them as affording the most ancient examples of the name, and a theory of its derivation hitherto unobserved.*
* This was written long before Mr Riddell's Tracts, who I see
Previous to the fifth year of the reign of King Stephen, (1140,) thereexisted an Oinus Naparius,or Oinus of the Napery; for of that date a notice of his wife occurs in the Exchequer expences. Radnessus le Naper of Waltham, is also mentioned in the fourteenth year of the reign of Henry II. (1168) In the English records, printed from the original in the Tower by command of George III., in pursuance of an address of the House of Commons, there are to be met with many notices of Napiers in various counties. John is the most common Christian name occurring among them. In the Calend. Rot. the following entry is met with "Johannes le Naper, venator regis, Haveringe maner, 18 acr. messuage, Essex." This occurs under 44th Henry III. (1239) and proves a John Napier to have been huntsman to the King of that date. Havering Liberty, rich in romantic legends, was in olden times a favourite resort of the Kings of England, who had a hunting seat there,* and probably the " venator regis" held less of a sinecure than the master of the buckhounds now. Walter de la Naperye occurs in the 53d year of the same reign. This last modification of the name leads us to a derivation sufficiently plausible.
(page 132) deduces the same theory from his own observance of "Menigarus le Napier" appointed, as appears from the Test, de Nevil, to the office "de Naperie," sometime between 1154 and 1189, by Henry II. But our learned antiquary inclines to a theory which is entirely his own; he thinks that very possibly the surname is taken from the feats of an individual, and says that the venator regis "probably was as peerless in his way, and as good a knapper or nabber (to use a Scottish term) of game, as Donald the Naepier was of men." This savours of that fine old college of antiquities, the HieScule.
• A saint retired there to say his prayers, but the nightingales disturbed him to such a degree that he exorcised the place, as if the birds had been devils, and drove them away.
The Napery was an office in the royal household.* It is well known to antiquaries that such offices afforded a fertile source of surnames, which became, at a very early period, purely nominal. In the records of the reign of King John, and the 9th year (1209,) there is a very distinct notice of the office in question held by one whose own surname had not merged in his employment. Wilhelmus Torel is charged with a debt of forty marks for
* "Naparia, seu Napparia, officium in aula regia, adde. Hinc servant de Naperie in ordinat, domus Joan V. Ducis Brit. An. 1403. Du Cange.
When investigating this theory of the name, I received the following information, dated 7th September 1832, from Sir William Woods, (Clarenceux) through the late Lord Napier. "At the coronation of King Henry V.'s Queen, (Catherine of France,) the Lord Grey of Ruthin was Naperer (1420.) At the coronation of Queen Eleanor, wife of King Henry III. who died 1277, it appears there was a claim made by two persons to the office, and the King appointed one of them, Henry de Hasting, to execute it." I was also kindly favoured from the same quarter with a full extract of two claims rejected at the coronation of George IV. which are curious. The first is that of " The Right Honourable William Francis Henry Baron Petre of Writtle, in the county of Essex." He claimed in right of Asheley, in the county of Norfolk, " the office of the Napery on the day of his Majesty's coronation, and to have all the tablecloths and napkins for his fees." Part of the narrative is, "That your petitioner's ancestors and predecessors being persons professing the Roman Catholic religion, and as such by law prohibited from coming into the royal presence, or within the precincts of his Majesty's Court, have omitted to claim," &c. The commissioners decided that this ancient tenure of Asheley had been extinguished by falling into the hands of one of the King's ancestors, whohad given the manor out again on.a different tenure. The other claimant is " Jane Green of Torrells Hall, in Little Thurrock, in the county of Essex, widow." She claimed in virtue of her liferent of Thurrock Torrells, " by tenure of Grand Sergeanty, that is to say, by the service of being the King's Naperer on the day of his Majesty's coronation," &c., but failed in her proof of the tenure.