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personally acquainted withDr Richard, and could scarcely be mistaken as to his relationship to Sir Robert, which, however, is otherwise abundantly pnvwsd. John Aubrey, in his miscellanies, says that Dr Richard Nepeir, "left his estate to Sir Richard Nepeir M. D. of the College of Physicians London, from whom Mr Ashmole had the Doctor's picture, now in the museum." This Sir Richard is well known to have been the nephew of Dr Richard, and a younger son of Sir Robert. * Further, Sir Archibald, afterwards first Lord Napier, being applied to by the above Sir Robert to furnish him with an authentic certificate of cadency, returned one accordingly, possessing in its antiquities, or in the fulness of the record, no great genealogical merit, but scarcely to be questioned in this statement, that Alexander Napier, his, Sir Archibald's,grand-uncle," had issue the foresaid Sir Robert Napier, Knight and Baronet, Richard Napier of Lindford, now living, and divers others sons and daughters."
The document quoted from stands directly in the way of Mr Riddell's theory, for it contains an undisputed assertion of the fact of immediate cadency, addressed to the very gentleman who our antiquary declares was not a cadet of Merchiston at all. Seizing, however, certain vulnerable points in certain copies of Sir Archibald Napier's certificate of cadency, which copies he says " are discrepant, and there can be little doubt garbled," he holds the entire proof, without distinction, pro non scripto in the question, in these words: "In short these garbled statements, as to the supposed Scoto-TSiuglish Napiers, contradictory of each other, and suppressing^ certain members of the family, besides emerging from a foreign country, cannot be depended upon.
* See Fasti Oxonienses.
t The document in question is meager in the collateral genealogy, the object of it being solely to point out the cadency of the English Napiers. The odious term " suppressing" is used by the author of the Tracts for the nonce,—it is his controversial maniere. See another instance, iiifra, p. 204. By " foreign country" the author of the Tracts either means England or Scotland, but it is not easy to say which.
The original document, transmitted by Sir Archibald under his own hand and seal to Sir William Segar, I have not been able to discover. Various copies of it appear to have been made at the time for different branches in England ; and the consequence is, that in some of these copies palpable blunders have crept into the enumeration of the generations of the Merchiston descent, which create a corresponding difference in the generation of Sir Robert of Luton-hoo, and alter his position to that extent on the family tree, without, however, affecting the question of cadency. For instance, in a copy of the document printed in Hutchins' history of Dorsetshire, there are three Alexanders lairds of Merchiston recorded in succession, where there should only be two. It is an obvious blunder, however, which the charter-chest of the family corrects, and which probably was not in the original. There is another manuscript copy in Lord Napier's possession, from which the statement in the Memoirs of Merchiston is taken, and which is perfectly accurate in its enumeration of the generations of the family, as proved by the charter-chest. This copy came into the family, accompanied by the followingletter from Napier of Blackstone, grandson of the philosopher, to Sir William Scott of Thirlestane, who had married the heiress of Napier, and whose son Francis, fifth Lord Napier, at that time a boy, had already succeeded to the title.
I received a letter from Killcreuch, wherein he desires me to transmit the double of ane manuscript I had from Sir Robert Napier of Puncknoll, in the county of Dorset, (with whom I was very intimate), being the extract original and ryse of the Napiers in Ingland and Irland, transmitted to him by my uncle Archibald Lord Napier, when he was thesaurer deputt, the first of King Charles the First, and recorded in the herald's books. It is not so cleir and full as I could wish; bot if the several papers and documents that were given out and entrusted to Sir George Mackenzie,. Advocate, when he designed his heraldrie, and yet made no mention of the familie, which, if found, might be of use with what you may otherwise find in the charter-chest. Wishing all health to my prittie Lord, I pray God he may be a comfort to you, and others the relations, to the raising and standing of the families of Napier. Believe that I am, in all sinceritie, Sir,
Your most obedient most humble Servant, Blackestoun 24th March 1712. A. Napiee."*
Napier of Blackstoun was the intimate friend of Sir Robert Napier of Puncknoll, and neither of these gentlemen had any doubt of the fact, that the English families of Napier were all derived from the stock of Merchiston. The above evidence proves that the first Lord Napier did, in point of fact, transmit that certificate of cadency to England in 1625. The copies of it, therefore, however erroneous in some particulars, are not in themselves fabrications; and if the asserted cadences be, as Mr Riddell says, totally without foundation, the odium of the inventionlforit could not well be a mistake) rests, in the meantime, with James VI.—his treasurer-depute and privy councillor Sir Archibald Napier, (one of the highest minded men of his day)—and the various heads of the distinguished families of Napier at that time existing in England, and carrying armorial bearings in terms of that cadency.
* Part of this letter is very imperfect in construction, but the sense is obvious. The writer of it, Alexander, son of Adam youngest son of the Inventor of Logarithms, was 69 years of age in 1712. He alludes, probably, to a work projected, but never executed, by Sir George Mackenzie, and these family papers had been intrusted to him, to inform him better on the subject of the Merchiston descent, than, as appears from his adversaria, Sir George had been. The first Lord Napier in his genealogical paper (1625) states, that he then possessed family documents in which his ancestors were called Napier alias Lennox. In the Merchiston charter-chest only a single charter of the first laird is to be found, and no document to throw any further light upon that laird's descent. The carelessness of restoring family documents " given out and entrusted" for antiquarian purposes, is cruel and destructive, and brings the respectable name of antiquary into disrepute with the possessors of historical charter-chests.
Yet Mr Riddell is shocked at the author's " unhesitatingly affirming that the Napiers of England are cadets of Merchiston;" and he offers as a preferable inference, that if there be any connection between the English and Scottish Napiers, the latter derive their origin from the first!" But Sir Robert Napier of Luton-hoo, and the other knights and baronets of the name then living in England, entertained no doubt of their Scottish extraction. When Sir Robert's heraldic purity was carped at, the question was not as to his immediate extraction. The jealous criticism by the English courtiers was as to the aristocracy of the family of Merchiston, a family which rivalled them in the royal affections, and when Sir Robert appealed to his cousin and head of his house, surely he did not do so that he might be informed who his own father was. The formally attested certificate transmitted by Merchiston to the Garter of England is, undoubtedly, meager, inaccurate, and improbative in its antiquities; but where it speaks of Sir Robert himself, and brings down the genealogy to the parties then in life, it would be strange indeed if all this were a dream, and the Napiers of Luton-hoo, &c. only "supposed Scoto-English Napiers." Now the preamble of this document is as follows: "To all and sundry person or persons, to whom these presents shall come, greeting : Know ye that I Sir Archibald Napier of Merchiston, in the kingdom of Scotland, knight, depute-treasurer, and one of his Majesty's privy-council there, for as much as my entirely beloved kinsman Sir Robert Napier of Luton-hoo, in the county of Bedford, knight, baronet, being desirous to be informed of his pedigree and descent from my house, I have, to satisfy his lawful and laudable request, herein declared the truth thereof, and the origin of our name, as by tradition from father to son (we) have generally and without any doubt received the same."
To this evidence of the Scotch extraction of Sir Robert and his brother, must be added the testimony of old John Aubrey, who was born about ten years before Dr Richard Napier died, and who was the best informed gossip of his day. He was a great friend and source of information to Anthony a Wood, author of the Athena and Fasti Oxonienses. Anthony used to say, " Look, yonder goes such a one, who can tell you such and such stories, and I'll warrant Mr Aubrey will break his neck down stairs rather than miss him." After giving a very curious history of the astrological Doctor, in his miscellanies, Aubrey thus concludes: " This Doctor Richard Napier was rector of Lyndford in Bucks, and did practice physick, but gave most to the poor that he got by it. Tis certain he told his own death to a day and hour. He died praying upon his knees, being of a very great age, 1634, April the first. He was nearly related to the learned Lord Nepeir, Baron of M...