Show ContentsNapper History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The first family to use the name Napper lived in the area that was once the ancient Scottish kingdom of Dalriada. It is a name for 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. This John Naper is included in the inhibition by the bishop of Glasgow directed against Malcolm, earl of Lennoy and his adherents in 1294 and is doubtless the John le Naper of the county of Dunbretan who rendered homage in 1296." [1]

Early Origins of the Napper family

The surname Napper 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 in England, 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 Napper family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Napper research. Another 316 words (23 lines of text) covering the years 1239, 1280, 1294, 1308, 1401, 1437, 1440, 1451, 1550, 1560, 1603, 1606, 1610, 1617, 1625, 1637, 1642, 1660, 1661, 1673, 1683, 1690, 1698, 1700 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Napper History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Napper Spelling Variations

Translation in medieval times was an undeveloped science and was often carried out without due care. For this reason, many early Scottish names appeared radically altered when written in English. The spelling variations of Napper include Napier, Naper, Napper, Naiper, Napeer, Neaper and others.

Early Notables of the Napper family

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

Napper Ranking

In the United States, the name Napper is the 7,470th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [5]

Ireland Migration of the Napper family to Ireland

Some of the Napper 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 Napper migration to the United States +

Many settled along the east coast of what would become the United States and Canada. As the American War of Independence broke out, those who remained loyal to the crown went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of all of these hardy Dalriadan-Scottish settlers began to recover their collective history in the 20th century with the advent of the vibrant culture fostered by highland games and Clan societies in North America. Highland games, clan societies, and other organizations generated much renewed interest in Scottish heritage in the 20th century. The Napper were among the earliest of the Scottish settlers as immigration passenger lists have shown:

Napper Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Napper, who settled in Virginia in 1663
  • Lucy Napper, who arrived in Maryland in 1663 [6]
  • Tho Napper, who landed in Virginia in 1664 [6]
  • Rowland Napper, who arrived in Maryland in 1665 [6]
  • John Napper, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1682 [6]

Australia Napper migration to Australia +

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

Napper Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Daniel Napper, (b. 1804), aged 39, English labourer who was convicted in Exeter, Devon, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Cressy" on 28th April 1843, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land), he died in 1854 [7]
  • William Napper, aged 28, a farm servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Oriental,"

New Zealand Napper 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:

Napper Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Napper, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bombay" in 1863 [8]
  • Mary Napper, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bombay" in 1863 [8]
  • Elizabeth Napper, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bombay" in 1863 [8]
  • William Napper, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bombay" in 1863 [8]
  • Mr. Napper, British settler with his brother travelling from London aboard the ship "Zambesi" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 20th September 1863 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Napper (post 1700) +

  • Laurice Dean "Buddy" Napper (1925-2013), American lawyer and politician, Louisiana State Representative from Lincoln (1952-1964)
  • Larry C. Napper (b. 1947), American diplomat, United States Ambassador to Latvia (1995-1998), U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan (2001-2004)
  • Lewis Napper, American Libertarian politician, Candidate for U.S. Senator from Mississippi, 2000
  • Larry C. Napper (b. 1947), American politician, U.S. Ambassador to Latvia, 1995-98; Kazakhstan, 2001
  • L. D. Napper, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Louisiana, 1960
  • Edwin Napper (1815-1895), English amateur cricketer who played first-class cricket from 1839 to 1862
  • James Napper Tandy (1740-1803), Irish nationalist, born at Dublin, the son of a respectable merchant in that city

The Napper 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

  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. Lower, 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. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  6. 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)
  7. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 21st May 2021). Retrieved from
  8. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 7th November 2010). Retrieved from
  9. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from on Facebook