Napier History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the name Napier are thought to have come from the ancient Scottish kingdom of Dalriada. Napier was used to indicate someone who worked as a person at a royal court who was in charge of the tablecloths and linen, which were collectively called the napery. "In England, in the reign of Henry I, William de Hastings held the manor of Ashele in Norfolk by the service of taking charge of the napery, i.e. tablecloths and linen at the coronation of the English kings. The first record of the name in Scotland is c. 1290 when John Naper obtained from Malcolm, earl of Lennox, a charter of the quarter-land called Kylmethew." [1]

Early Origins of the Napier family

The surname Napier was first found in Perthshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Pheairt) former county in the present day Council Area of Perth and Kinross, located in central Scotland. "A Scottish legend, however, assigns a widely different origin. In a great battle between the Scots and some enemy, whose nation is not specified, the former were on the point of losing the day, when one Donald, son of the then Earl of Lennox, seized a standard, and rallied the retreating soldiers. This act of prowess changed the positions of the combatants, and resulted in the complete triumph of the Scots. The king on hearing of Donald's bravery, declared that he had NA PIER "no equal"; commanded him to assume those words as a surname; and gave him lands in Fife, and the lands of Goffurdor Goosford." [2] This "legend" may not be a legend but in fact based on truth as both aforementioned versions of the family's origin agree that the family descend from the house of Lennox and their forebears used the name Lenox alias Napier. Yet another source claims that "It is said that Donald, a son of the Earl of Lennox, for his bravery in battle, had his name changed by the king to Napier. After the battle, as the manner is, every one advancing and setting forth his own acts, the king said unto them, 'Ye have all done valiantly, but there is one among you who hath 'Na Pier, ' ' and the king gave him lands in Fife and Goffurd. " [3] Suffice to say, the family's allegiance and fierce battle strength without fear, cannot be in question. Further to the south, the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 had two entries for the family, both in Oxfordshire: Jordan le Nappere and Thomas le Nappere. [4]

Early History of the Napier family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Napier research. Another 245 words (18 lines of text) covering the years 1280, 1294, 1308, 1401, 1437, 1440, 1451, 1550, 1610, 1550, 1617, 1560, 1637, 1603, 1661, 1625, 1660, 1606, 1673, 1683, 1642, 1700, 1690, 1698, 1700 and are included under the topic Early Napier History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Napier Spelling Variations

In the Middle Ages, the translation between Gaelic and English was not a highly developed process. Spelling was not yet standardized, and so, an enormous number of spelling variations appear in records of early Scottish names. Napier has appeared as Napier, Naper, Napper, Naiper, Napeer, Neaper and others.

Early Notables of the Napier family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan from early times was George Napper (Napier) (1550-1610), an English Roman Catholic priest, a Catholic martyr, beatified by Pope Pius XI; John Napier (1550-1617), a famed mathematician and inventor of logarithms, this eighth laird of Merchiston was also extremely involved in religious debates (he was a staunch anti-Catholic) and was an inventor of military devices, such as a horse-drawn tank and a type of submarine; Sir Robert Napier, 1st Baronet (1560-1637), of Luton Hoo in Bedfordshire, an English merchant; Sir Robert Napier, 2nd Baronet (c. 1603-1661), of...
Another 90 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Napier Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Napier family to Ireland

Some of the Napier family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 60 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Napier migration to the United States +

Many of the ancestors of Dalriadan families who arrived in North America still live in communities along the east coast of Canada and the United States. In the American War of Independence many of the original settlers traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the ancestors of many Scots began recovering their collective national heritage through Clan societies, highland games, and other patriotic events. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Napier or a variant listed above:

Napier Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Patrick Napier, who settled in Virginia in 1655
  • Patrick Napier, who arrived in Virginia in 1655 [5]
  • Valentine Napier, who arrived in Maryland in 1665 [5]
Napier Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John Napier, who settled in Philadelphia in 1798
Napier Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Napier, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1800 [5]
  • William Napier, aged 23, who landed in New York in 1812 [5]
  • George Napier, aged 67, who landed in Ohio in 1812 [5]
  • Charles Napier, who settled in Charles Town [Charleston], South Carolina in 1823
  • James Napier, who settled in Providence in 1823
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Napier migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Napier Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Robert Napier U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1784 [6]
  • Mr. Robert Napier U.E. who settled in Parr Town, Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [6]
Napier Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • John Napier, aged 20, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "John & Mary" from Belfast, Ireland

Australia Napier migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Napier Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Napier, aged 32, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Lysander" [7]
  • John Napier, aged 32, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lysander" in 1851 [7]
  • Helen Napier, aged 25, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lysander" in 1851 [7]
  • George Napier, aged 1, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lysander" in 1851 [7]
  • Janet Napier, aged 18, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Grand Trianon"
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Napier migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Napier Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Peter M. Napier, aged 21, who arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Mariner" in 1849
  • John David Napier, aged 20, who arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Mariner" in 1849
  • Miss Mary B. Napier, (b. 1862), aged Infant, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship 'Mermaid' arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 26th December 1862 [8]
  • Mrs. Annie E. Napier, (b. 1839), aged 23, British miliner travelling from London aboard the ship 'Mermaid' arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 26th December 1862 [8]
  • Mrs. Ann Napier, (b. 1839), aged 24, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship 'Mermaid' arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 16th February 1864 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Napier (post 1700) +

  • Charles Napier (1936-2011), American actor, known for his roles in Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
  • Mara Napier, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Tennessee, 2000
  • John Light Napier (b. 1947), American Republican politician, Legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, 1973, 1976-78
  • James Carroll Napier (1845-1940), American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Tennessee, 1884; Candidate for U.S. Representative from Tennessee 5th District, 1898
  • James A. Napier, American politician, Prohibition Candidate for New York State Assembly from Cattaraugus County, 1911
  • J. B. Napier, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Tennessee, 1980
  • Harry Napier, American politician, Mayor of Columbia, Tennessee, 1963
  • George Moultrie Napier (1863-1932), American Democrat politician, Georgia State Attorney General, 1921-32
  • Garrett Napier, American Republican politician, Chair of Seminole County Republican Party, 2014
  • Charles W. Napier, American Democrat politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Monroe County 5th District, 1921, 1922
  • ... (Another 23 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Arrow Air Flight 1285
  • Mr. Michael A Napier (b. 1964), American Specialist 4th Class from Middletown, Ohio, USA who died in the crash [9]


The Napier Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Sans tache
Motto Translation: Without stain


Suggested Readings for the name Napier +

  • 1626 Doctor Patrick Napier: His Ancestors and Some Descendants by John Hawkins Napier.

  1. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  2. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  4. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) LYSANDER 1851. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1851Lysander.htm
  8. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  9. ^ American War Memorials - Flight 1285. (Retrieved 2016, August 24) . Retrieved from http://www.uswarmemorials.org/html/monument_details.php?SiteID=317&MemID=550


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