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There is nothing particularly distinguished about this ancient race of quaint and quiet lairds; but they are interesting as having possessed for so long a period that beautiful suburban Castle, whose traditionary history is rife with ancient legends and modern ghost-stories. Its heraldic history, as proudly recorded on the walls as if theirs had been the House of Valois, claims no connection with the Lennox, further than the obvious cadency from Kilmahew, and indicates no cadency with Merchiston, whose Lennox saltier is contemporary with the oldest record I have discovered of the Napier bend. This is a marked separation of a very ancient date between these families. The insignia so multiplied about the old Castle we have explored, clearly indicate a cadency from Kilmahew, yet there is not a vestige of the shield of Merchiston having been upon the
But there was the marriage between the families in 1513, and " the dask at the west end of the Laird of Merchiston's dask" in 1612; and no doubt the stately Baron of that gaunt and grim-looking tower, with his constant companion, and alleged familiar, the jet-black chanticleer, was very popular in the " goodly dwelling and a rich" of his neighbour and cousin, who might greet him with—" By cock and pye, Sir, you shall not away to-night."
REPLY TO MR RIDDELL S ASSERTION THAT THERE IS NO FOUNDATION IN FACT FOR THE STATEMENT CONTAINED IN THE FIRST LORD NAPIER'S ATTESTATION, THAT THE NAPIERS IN ENGLAND WERE HIS NEAR RELATIVES, AND CADETS OF MERCHISTON.
Me Riddell, in opposition to the genealogical fact stated in the Memoirs of Merchiston, that the Inventor of Logarithms and Dr Richard Napier (whose portrait and rosicrucian fame are preserved at Oxford) were brothers' sons, has conceived an extraordinary idea. He has the hardihood to maintain that the wealthy and distinguished families of Napier, first established in England by two distinct cadences from Merchiston in the sixteenth century, had all along been labouring under a delusion—as their existing descendants are to this day —when they supposed themselves to be cadets of Merchiston in Scotland, and carried armorial bearings accordingly. He asserts that it is "impracticable to connect" the Napiers of Luton-hoo, &c. with Merchiston; and adds, " we may hold that their Merchiston origin is a mistake, and that, however subsequently famous and well allied, they can reflect neither credit or discredit upon the Scottish Napiers." What, then, is our antiquary's own theory in regard to these families? Whence came Sir Robert of Luton-hoo, and the astrological Doctor?
"To whom related, or by whom begot?"
He knows nothing about them; and leaves the matter quite unexplained, though faintly colouring his most flrafe-antiquarian argument by a slight allusion to Menigarus de Naperie in the reign of Henry IT., upon which he argues as follows: "We might thence infer, owing to the antiquity of the one over the other, that if there be any connection between the English and Scottish Napiers, the latter derive their origin from the first, which would further refute the notion of a Lennox descent. Mr Napier, however, unhesitatingly affirms, that the Napiers of England are cadets of Merchiston, and significantly adds, in reference to them, ' for English and Irish Napiers, cadets of Merchiston, see Collins, passim,' with the natural view of showing that the blood of Merchiston in this manner circulates among all our nobility. But it unfortunately happens, that there is no evidence upon record to instruct the fact." Now, " it unfortunately happens" that this bold challenge by the learned genealogist involves the somewhat scandalous proposition that Sir Robert of Luton-hoo, and his brother Richard, were not only misinformed generally as to their extraction, but were totally mistaken, or pretended to be so, as to who their own father was.
In Sir William Dugdale's Usage of Arms, printed at Oxford 1682, and in the official register of baronets therein published, appears, among the baronets created by James VI. 25th November 1612, " Sir Robert Naper, alias Sandy, of Lewton How, Knight; and among those created byCharles II., under date 4th March 1660, "John Napier alias Sandy, Esq. with remainder to Alexander Napier, &c. with remainder to the heirs-male of Sir Robert Napier, Knight, grandfather to the said John; and with precedency before all baronets made since the 24th September Anno 10 Regis Jac. (1612J
at which time the said Sir Robert was created a baronet; which letters patent, so granted to the said Sir Robert Napier, were surrendered by Sir .Robert Napier, (father of the said John and Alexander) lately deceased, to the intent that the said degree of baronet should be granted to himself, with remainder to the said John and Alexander."
The authenticity of this register cannot be impugned, and the existence (for we must reason closely against the author of the Tracts) of Sir Robert Napier of Luton-hoo, created a baronet in 1612, is proved. A presumption is at the same time raised by this record, that Sir Robert was of Scotch extraction, from the alias Sandy, the Scotch diminutive of Alexander. It is equally certain that this baronet had a brother, Dr Richard Napier, rector of Lindford in Buckinghamshire, whose history and portrait are given in the Memoirs of Merchiston. Thecelebrated astrologer, William Lilly, gives the following anecdote in his life and times, which is otherwise corroborated. "A word or two of Dr Napper who lived at great Lindford in Buckinghamshire, was parson, and had the advowson thereof. He descended of worshipful parents, and this you must believe, for when Dr Napper's brother, Sir Robert Napper, a Turky merchant, was to be made a baronet in King James" reign, there was some dispute whether he could prove himself a gentleman for three or more descents; 'By my saul,' saith King James, 'I will certify for Napper that he is of three hundred years standing in his family, all of them, by my saul, gentlemen.' "* William Lilly was
* The meaning of this attestation was, that the King was intimately acquainted with the descent of the family of Merchiston; whose successive lairds had been distinguished at the court of the Stewarts for centuries. Now the contemporary authority even of King James upon the point is better than Mr Riddell's dictum.