Изображения страниц

of the church. In the 15th of Queen Elizabeth, William, son and heir of Edward Napper, gent, held the premises, the gift of King Henry to his father, val. L. 7, 8s. 3d. Now the pedigree of the family of Morecritchill records this Edward as the eldest son of John Napper ofSwyre in the reign of Henry VII., and Anne, daughter of John Russell of Berwick, a marriage of which the Merchiston certificate takes no cognizance, and which, therefore, must have been derived from some other source. Neither does Sir Archibald, while he names the place where this John, or James, first planted himself, take any charge of the place of his burial- But the Morecritchill pedigree says he was buried at Swyre, —so to the church of Swyre let us go.

It stands at the south end of the parish, and was dedicated to the Holy Trinity in 1503. It consists of a chancel and body, with a porch on the north and south, and a tower in which are, or were, three bells. The chief monument is on the north wall of the chancel, and is composed of freestone. On the top an urn, between two death's heads, and under it a cherubim ; at the base, an armorial shield, being a saltier engrailed cantoned with four roses, and a crescent of difference. Let us read the inscription:

"In memory of James Napier, gent, brother of Sir Alexander Napier of Merchiston and Rosky, Kt. who was descended from the ancient family of Lenox, in Scotland, which Earles changed their name of Lenox for Napier, at the command of their King of Scotts, upon the account of a victory obtained against his enemies by Donald, second son of the then Earl of Lenox, commanding his father's men, which Donald was then made the King's servant, who gave him lands, which the Napiers still enjoy by the name of Lenox, alias Napier. In time, the earldom fell to two daughters; the youngest was married to Allen Stewart, ancestor to King James the First, who commanded* Sir Robert Napier of Lutonhow in Bedfordshire, upon creating him Baronet A. D. 1612, to send for his pedigree out of Scotland, whereby it appears that are descended as aforesaid all the Napiers of England. The said John Napier, who lies here interred, came into England in the reign of H. VII. settled here, and supplied the several adjacent Abbeys with fish; from whom are descended the Napiers of Dorset and Somerset. All this is attested by Sir Archibald Napier, Kt. privy-counsellor, and treasurer to our King James the First, and recorded in the herald's office by Sir William Segar, Kt. garter, September 1st, A. D. J 625. This monument was erected by the Honourable Sir Robert Napier, Kt. A. D. 1692."

In the antiquities of the church it is stated, that "before the above monument was erected, here was a brass plate in memory of this gentleman, now lost." Now though this inscription be but an inaccurate abstract of theMerchiston certificate, with its doubtful tradition, and meager and faulty antiquities, it is excellent evidence of a James (or John) Napier having settled at Swyre, just as Sir Archibald said; for it is not that circumstance, but the Lennox descent which is here recorded solely upon his attestation. Local knowledge, and probably the brass plate had told that Napier of Swyre was buried there, and the personal and particular anecdote (certainly not derived from Scotland) of his catering for the luxurious Abbeys, is so invaluably corroborative, that we care not though he had carried the fish in a creel. We have, then, not only found the John or James " foisted into" the Merchiston certificate, but we have ascertained some of his dealings, the name of his wife, and the very spot of his interment at Swyre. Nor must we omit to record his charity, (it may be that of his son,) which extended beyond the circle of Swyre. In the Hundred of Goderthorn, and tything of Adelyngton, there stood the Hospital of St Mary Magdalene, for lepers, suppressed inl553. Itappears from the records that James Napier of' Swyre, yeoman, gave by will, sow* date, five shillings yearly to the use of the poor in this hospital for ever; if the annuity be unpaid on the day of St John the Evangelist, they or their deputy to distrain on his lands at Baglake.

* I had not observed the account of this monument and inscription when compiling the Memoirs of Merchiston. It would appear that it was King James himself who had suggested to the Turkey merchant to apply to Sir Archibald for his pedigree, (which agrees curiously with Lilly's anecdote, see supra, p. 194,) though that had not been done, it would seem, until 1625. There is the discrepancy of James and John in the above, which we leave for Mr Riddell.

Yes, says the author of the Tracts, but in the year 1625 the distinguished families of Tintinhull, Middlemarchall, Puncknoll, &c. had all become ashamed of the fishman of Swyre, and as the Turkey merchant—the novus homo of Luton-hoo whose descent was unknown, and who did not even know who his own father and mother were—was getting a pedigree to himself from Scotland under the auspices of James VI., they conceived the idea of being included in the same patent of gentility; Sir Archibald Napier was a courtier and a creature of that monarch, so he fathered them all; and this "lacteal relationship," (for there was much of the milk of human kindness in it,) probably was the cause of his own subsequent elevation to the peerage; and thus it was that these supposed Scoto-English Napiers foisted the Lennox arms upon their tombs at Mintern-Magna.

What, then, does our learned antiquary make of the fact, that these Napiers tarried the Lennox arms half a century before the date of Sir Archibald's certificate ?—> but letus stroll among theHundreds and Liberties again. Adjoining to the free-school of Dorchester is, or was some years ago, a handsome alms-house for ten poor men; before it a neat piazza, in it a small chapel, and over the door in Roman capitals,


Underneath is the Lennox shield of Napier, and this inscription, " Built to the honour of God, by Sir Robert Napper, Knt. 1615." This was the chief baron of Ireland, who died in September of that same year, and his Lennox shield is also placed, matrimonially with that of both his wives, in the church at Mintern-Magna.

In the Hundred of Uggescomb there is the church of St Mary, whose walls are crowded with the arms of Merchiston of various dates. In the south aisle, under which is a vault, may be seen a mural monument of freestone. On the top the Lennox shield of Napier, crest a pyramid, on its point a globe, and under it, cut in stone, and in Latin, " William Napier, Esq. formerly patron of this church." It also appears by another Latin inscription cut on the stone, that " the said William Napier presented William Carter, clergyman, to this rectory 26th June 1597." On the same monument there is a brass plate containing the hie jacet of this William, An. Dom. 16.. and recording, that he had travelled several years in foreign lands, and married Anne Shelton, daughter of William Shelton, Esq. of Onger Park in Essex. Upon this plate, too, is the Lennox shield of Napier, with a lapwing for crest, under which is a man in armour kneeling at a desk with a book.

One other proof may be afforded. It appears that this cadency had some connection with the county of Devonshire at a very early period, for in the " Alphabet of Arms" compiled from the most authentic authorities by Joseph Edmondson, Mowbray herald extraordinary, I find recorded, " Naper, Devonshire, argent a saltier engrailed betwixt four cinquefoils gules; crest a demi-antelope erased or, attired ar. August 1st 1577."

To have been favoured by the learned author of the Tracts with more accurate antiquities than the Memoirs of Merchiston afford, would have been a boon thankfully received,—to have been substantially refuted by him, an honour duly appreciated. But the contemptuous controversy of a desultory Tract, which strives to discredit a laborious work without aiding it, deserves neither thanks nor praise. The learned antiquary's aim almost appears to have been to leave no excuse to the author for having compiled the Memoirs of Merchiston. He virtually says,—the antiquities are naught, founded on fabrications or imagination,—the conspicuous men, of Napier's day were immoral hypocrites, and his own character has been partially eulogized,—his very portrait was not worthy of being engraved, nor his genius of illustration; for Mr Riddell is enamoured of a dictum of Scaliger's,—"Prceclarum ingenium nonpotest esse magnus mathematicus"—" which," says he, " may apply to Napier with due force, for his pursuits were limited, and chiefly confined to the department which this great authority pointedly undervalues ; indeed, it is thought by some that mathematics contract the mind, and unfit it for other pursuits."* Having thus severely pronounced upon our venerable philosopher in the morale, he concludes by insulting him "in the physique. Alluding to

* Tracts, p. 113, et infra.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »