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officio Naperia: regis. He belonged to the county of Essex, where thirty years afterwards we find John Naper, the King's huntsman, Lord of a Manor. Throughout succeeding reigns the name frequently occurs in the English records, and seems as obvious in its derivation as others with which it is in immediate conjunction, such as " Galfried le Gardiner" " Alex, le Peyntour" and " Johan le Naper." There are, besides, William, Thomas, Jordan, and Luke Napers mentioned in the reign of Edward I.*
Of the Napiers of Kilmahew, the earliest on record in
The first appearance of the name of Napier in Scotland is as vassals of the old Earls of Lennox, and barons in that district, though we shall find that there is a remarkable disconnection between this circumstance and the Lennox tradition of the Merchiston Napiers.
In the chartulary of Lennox there are frequent notices of a John Naper, as one of the witnesses to the charters of Malcolm Fourth Earl of Lennox. These charters have no dates, but from other tests may be dated before the end of the thirteenth century. This is obviously the same John Naper who is mentioned in that degrading document, commonly called the Ragman roll, wherein the names of the Scottish barons are recorded who swore fealty to Edward I. in the year 1296. He is there called " Johan le Naper del Comte de Dunbretan." So far as I know, this is the earliest Napier upon record in Scotland, and it is interesting to find that not only is he a distinguished and historical character, but that a long line of his descendants can be very distinctly traced. He was one of the gallant but unfortunate defenders of the Castle of Stirling, when reduced to extremity, in the year 1304, by King Edward in person. Before the walls of the last tower in Scotland which opposed his march, that ruthless conqueror seems to have acquired a momentary respect for patriotic valour, which it would have been well for his fame had he extended to Sir William Wallace. He spared the lives of the few obstinate warriors who survived the reduction of Stirling Castle, and issued an express command that the gallant prisoners, among whom was John le Naper, should be spared the pain and indignity of iron fetters.
* See also Rotuli Litterarum Clausarum, in the Tower, (printed by command of his present Majesty,) for various notices of one Robertus Naparius in the reign of King John, who is clearly of the Napery.
The parentage of this worthy is unknown, though it is not impossible that he sprung from the Essex hero of the buck-hounds, whom the enchantments of a long chase, or some milk-white doe, may have seduced into rugged Scotland from the groves and nightingales for which Havering Liberty was so famed. There is no doubt, however, that he was Napier of Kilmahew in the Lennox, and I have been able to trace the descent of that family (though it is now extinct, and their papers lost) from him, down to modern times, through chartularies and other authentic records. They were originally close allies and vassals of the Earls of Lennox, and became of baronial rank in that district of Scotland, where the family remained until its extinction in the last century. The details it is unnecessary to give, as none of these barons were particularly distinguished. It is important to observe, however, that two charter seals of successive Napiers of Kilmahew are extant, attached to deeds dated in 1473 and 1490, and in both instances the shield carries a bend charged with three crescents. This proves that Kilmahew, a family that rose upon its Lennox vassalage, and never quitted the district, did not assume a single bearing in consequence; and so the theory fails that the Lennox arms of Merchiston, a family having no connection with the district until a subsequent period, are arms of vassalage to Lennox, derived through cadency from Kilmahew.*
Of the Napiers of Wrychtishousis.
Another remarkable confirmation of the idea that Merchiston was not a branch of Kilmahew, or obtained the Lennox armorial bearings through such cadency, is to be found in the history of the Napiers of " the Wrychtishousis," a family which is nowhere genealogically recorded. I have also succeeded, however, in tracing to modern times this ancient race.
Upon the site of Gillespie's Hospital, and within a quarter of a mile of Merchiston, once stood another lofty and massy tower of very ancient date, around which clustered, in various forms of Scottish architecture, intricate ranges of buildings, and peaked turrets, which had been added in different ages to increase the accommodation afforded by the primitive tower. The general effect is said, by those who still remember it with regret, to have been singularly picturesque, especially when viewed from the Borough-muir in sunset. One remarkable feature of this interesting fabric was the heraldic carvings in stone, which at various times
* The Quarterly Review observes, " The Merchiston Napiers may have been originally, as some other families of the name certainly were, vassals of the ancient Earls of Lennox," &c.
had been bestowed upon its walls literally crowded with armorial bearings. These had obviously been for the purpose of perpetuating the memory of successive alliances of the owners of this castle, and their accuracy is proved by other authentic records.
The property was unfortunately acquired about the year 1800 by the Managers of the fund for Mr Gillespie's mortification, who deliberately and tastelessly removed what time itself had spared. This, however, was not effected without meeting with a spirited remonstrance. In the Edinburgh Magazine for July 1800, a writer, signing himself Cadmon, addressed two letters to the public " on the Demolition of Wrytishouse near Edinburgh," taking for his motto
"Vain transitory splendour! could not all Reprieve the noble mansion from its fall?" This appeal had not the effect of saving the building, but has been the means of preserving a very interesting notice of its antiquities which this writer examined con amore. He found a date, carved above a window, so old as 1376. It is remarkable, however, that even this enthusiastic champion of the Wrychtishousis did not discover to what race it had chiefly belonged. If, amid all that flesh is heir to, Cadmon have himself survived the chances and changes of more than thirty years, it may gratify him to find that the object of his solicitude is even yet remembered, its antiquities explored, and its ancient proprietors recorded.
From at least 1390 to 1680, this venerable pile, with some goodly acres attached to it, belonged to a race of Napiers whom I have succeeded in tracing through all that time as a separate family from Merchiston, and without a symptom of cadency between them. Douglas in his Peerage records, but without proof, as the lineal male ancestor of Merchiston, a William de Naper, who got a charter under the Great Seal" Willielmo Naper, filio quondam Johannis Naper," of the lands of Easter Garmylton, in the constabulary of Haddington, which were resigned by William Naper, son of John Naper of Garmylton, dated at Methfen 4th February, 6, Robert II. 1376-7* Mr Wood also notes that he was governor of the Castle of Edinburgh, as in a charter to Alan Lauder" Willielmus de Naper, custos castri de Edinburgh" is a witness, 1401. Whether the assumption be well founded that William, son of John Naper in East Lothian, is the same who was governor of the castle in 1401,1 have not had the means of ascertaining. But I find a record of him of Edinburgh Castle at an earlier period than the above, and can nearly identify him with the founder of the family of Wrychtishousis.
For fourteen years, commencing with 1390, William Naper is each year invariably mentioned in the Great Chamberlain Rolls of Scotland, as the colleague in office of a well known and wealthy person of the period, Adam Forrester of Corstorphine. They are designed in these royal accounts," Custumarii burgi," thai is, they farmed by royal grant the customs of Edinburgh, an important source of the revenue, and it also appears that they exercised their office by means of deputies allowed by the terms of their charter. Precisely during the same period and in each year, namely, from 1390 to 1404, William Naper is also mentioned as constabularis (sometimes custos) castri Edinburgh" After that period the name disappears from both offices at the same time. There seems no room to doubt that this is one
* Mr Riddell (p. 130) makes some pointed allusions to the Garleton charters comprehended in an inventory of the Wemyss charterchest. We take the liberty to refer that learned gentleman to Wood's Peerage and the printed portion of the Great Seal record.