Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Napier, Henry Edward

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NAPIER, HENRY EDWARD (1789–1853), historian, born on 5 March 1789, was son of Colonel George Napier [q. v.], younger brother of Sir Charles James Napier [q. v.], conqueror of Scinde, of Sir George Thomas Napier [q. v.], governor of the Cape of Good Hope, and of Sir William Francis Patrick Napier [q. v.], historian and general. He entered the Royal Naval Academy on 5 May 1803, and, embarking on 20 Sept. 1806 on board the Spencer, 74 guns, was present in the expedition against Copenhagen in 1807, and assisted at the destruction of Fleckeröe Castle on the coast of Norway. From 1808 till 1811 he served in the East Indies, and on 4 May 1810 received his commission as lieutenant. On 7 June 1814 he was promoted to the command of the Goree, 18 guns, and, soon after removing to the Rifleman, 18 guns, was for a considerable time entrusted with the charge of the trade in the Bay of Fundy. In August 1815 he went on half-pay, having previously declined a piece of plate which had been voted to him for his care in the conduct of convoys between the port of St. John's, New Brunswick, and Castine. On 31 Dec. 1830 he was gazetted to the rank of captain, and was put on half-pay.

His chief claim to notice is that he was the author of ‘Florentine History from the earliest Authentic Records to the Accession of Ferdinand the Third, Grandduke of Tuscany,’ six vols., 1846–7, a work showing much independence of judgment and vivacity of style, but marred by prolixity. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society on 18 May 1820, and died at 62 Cadogan Place, London, on 13 Oct. 1853.

He married on 17 Nov. 1823 Caroline Bennet, a natural daughter of Charles Lennox, third duke of Richmond; she died at Florence on 5 Sept. 1836, leaving three children.

[O'Byrne's Naval Biographical Dict. 1849, p. 804; Gent. Mag. 1854, pt. ii. p. 90.]

G. C. B.