Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Napier, Archibald (d.1658)

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NAPIER, ARCHIBALD, second Lord Napier (d. 1658), tenth of Merchiston, was the second son of Archibald, first baron Napier [q. v.], by Lady Margaret Graham. Some time before he had attained his majority he was ordered, along with his father, in October 1644 to confine himself within apartments in Holyrood Palace; but, notwithstanding the heavy penalty that his father might incur, he left his confinement, and on 21 April 1645 joined Montrose at the fords of Cardross. He specially distinguished himself at the battle of Auldearn on 9 May; and at the battle of Alford on 2 July he commanded the reserve, which was concealed behind a hill, and on being ordered up at an opportune moment by Montrose completed the rout of the covenanters. After Montrose's victory at Kilsyth on 15 Aug. he was despatched with the cavalry to take Edinburgh under his protection, and set free the royalist prisoners (Guthry, Memoirs, p. 196); and on the way thither he also released his father and other relatives from Linlithgow prison. Along with his father and Montrose he escaped from Philiphaugh on 13 Sept. and found refuge in Atholl. On the death of his father in the following November he succeeded to the title. In February 1646 he left Montrose to go to the relief of his tenants in Menteith and the Lennox, and passing thence into Strathearn, garrisoned the castle of Montrose at Kincardine with fifty men. The castle was invested by General Middleton, but, although it was assaulted by cannon, the defenders held out for fourteen days, when the failure of their water-supply compelled them to capitulate. On 16 March terms were arranged. Before the castle was given up Napier and his cousin, the laird of Balloch, left during the night by a postern gate and escaped on horseback to Montrose.

After Montrose disbanded his forces, Napier, who was included in the capitulation, went to the continent. Before leaving Scotland he on 28 July 1646 wrote a letter to Charles from Cluny, in which he said: ‘Now, since it is free for your majesty's servants in this kingdom to live at home or repair abroad at their pleasure, I have taken the boldness before my departure humbly to show your majesty the passionate desire I have to do you service’ (Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. App. pt. vi. p. 113; and printed also in Napier, Montrose, p. 645). On 18 Nov. he was served heir to his father in his properties in the counties of Dumbarton, Edinburgh, Perth, and Stirling, and on 10 May 1647 he was infeft in the barony of Edenbellie. Previous to his departure to the continent he granted a commission to John, lord Erskine, and Elizabeth, lady Napier, his wife, and others, to manage his estates.

Notwithstanding a deliverance of the committee of the estates, 23 Oct. 1646, against Lord Napier conversing with Montrose, he joined him in Paris, where, according to himself, the common report was ‘that Montrose and his nephew were like the pope and the church, who would be inseparable’ (Letter to his wife from Brussels, 4 June 1648, in Napier, Montrose, p. 666). According to Scot of Scotstarvet, Napier was ‘robbed of all his money on his way towards Paris’ (Staggering State, ed. 1872, p. 67). When Montrose left Paris to travel through Switzerland and Germany, Napier proceeded to Brussels, where Montrose afterwards joined him. So desirous was he to be near Montrose and aid him in any possible schemes in behalf of the royal cause that he declined the offer of a regiment from the king of Spain. After the execution of Charles he supported the proposal of Montrose at the Hague for a descent on Scotland. Subsequently he proceeded with Montrose to Hamburg, where he was left to superintend negotiations there while Montrose proceeded to Denmark and Sweden. After Montrose ventured on his quixotic expedition to Scotland, Napier applied for leave to join him there, which was granted by Charles; but before he could avail himself of this permission Montrose's scheme had met with irretrievable disaster, and Montrose himself had been taken prisoner.

Napier was one of those who on 18 May 1650 were, by decree of the estates, excluded from entering Scotland ‘from beyond seas’ until they gave satisfaction to the church and state’ (Balfour, Annals, iv. 14), and he was also one of those who on 4 June were debarred from having access to his majesty's person (ib. p. 42). He was also specially excepted from Cromwell's Act of Grace in 1654. In June 1656 the yearly value of his estate was stated at 600l., and the charges on it amounted to 9,786l. 18s. 4d. (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1655–6, p. 362). Lady Napier was allowed out of the forfeited estates an annuity of 100l., and in July 1658 a further sum of 50l. In 1658 Napier was at Brussels, whence on 21 April he wrote a letter to Secretary Nicholas, in which he expressed the purpose of going to Flushing, and there staying until he heard from his friends, and especially whether the Duke of York would have any employment for him (ib . 1657–8, p. 376). He died in Holland, not in the beginning of 1660 as usually stated, but in or before September 1658 (Letter of the third Lord Napier to the king, 16–26 Sept. 1658, ib. 1658–9, p. 141). By Lady Elizabeth Erskine, eldest daughter of John, eighth earl of Mar—who after the Restoration, in consideration of her husband's loyalty, obtained an allowance of 500l. per annum—he had two sons—Archibald, third lord Napier (who being unmarried resigned his peerage on 26 Nov. 1676, and obtained a new patent of the same with the former precedency, granting the title to himself and, failing heirs male of his body, to the heirs of his sisters); and John, killed in a sea-fight against the Dutch in 1672—and three daughters: Jean, married to Sir Thomas Nicolson of Carnock, Fifeshire, whose son on the death of the third Lord Napier in 1683 became fourth Lord Napier; Margaret, who married John Brisbane, esq., and after his death became Baroness Napier on the death of her nephew in 1686; and Mary, died unmarried.

[Bishop Guthrie's Memoirs; Gordon's Britanes Distemper (Spalding Club); Sir James Balfour's Annals; Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser., time of the Commonwealth; Mark Napier's Memoirs of John Napier of Merchiston and Life of Montrose; Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), ii. 295.]

T. F. H.