Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Napier, Thomas Erskine

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NAPIER, Sir THOMAS ERSKINE (1790–1863), general, second son by his second wife of Captain Charles Napier of Merchiston, Stirlingshire, and brother of Admiral Sir Charles Napier [q. v.], was born on 10 May 1790. On 3 July 1805 he was appointed ensign in the 52nd light infantry, and on 1 May 1806 he became lieutenant. He served with the 52nd at Copenhagen in 1807; was aide-de-camp to Sir John Hope [see Hope, John, fourth Earl of Hopetoun] in the expedition to Sweden in 1808, and afterwards served at Coruña and in Portugal. On 27 Oct. 1809 he was promoted to be captain in the Chasseurs Britanniques, a corps of foreigners in British pay, with which he served in Sicily, at Fuentes d'Onoro, at the defence of Cadiz, and in Spain in 1812–13. When Sir John Hope joined the Peninsular army in 1813, Napier resumed his position of aide-de-camp; in the great battles on the Nive he was slightly wounded on 10 Dec. 1813, and he lost his left arm on the following day. The Chasseurs Britanniques were disbanded at the peace of 1814, and Napier was placed on half-pay. He received a brevet majority 26 Dec. 1813, and became brevet lieutenant-colonel 21 June 1817, and colonel 16 Jan. 1837. He was for some years assistant adjutant-general at Belfast. He became a major-general in 1846, and was general officer commanding the troops in Scotland and governor of Edinburgh Castle from May 1852 until his promotion to lieutenant-general 20 June 1854. He became a full general 20 Sept. 1861. He was appointed colonel 16th foot in 1854, and transferred to the 71st highland light infantry on the death of Sir James Macdonell [q. v.] in 1857. He was made a C.B. in 1838, K.C.B. in 1860, and had the Peninsular silver medal, with clasps for Corunna, Fuentes d'Onoro, Salamanca, Vittoria, Pyrénées, Nivelle, and Nive.

Napier married Margaret, daughter and coheiress of Mr. Falconer of Woodcot, Oxfordshire, and by her had one daughter, who, with her mother, predeceased him. He died at Polton House, Lasswade, near Edinburgh, 5 July 1863, aged 73.

[Burke's and Foster's Peerages, under ‘Napier of Merchistoun;’ Hart's Army Lists; Gent. Mag. 1863, pt. ii. p. 240. Incidental notices of Napier will be found in the Life and Correspondence of Admiral Sir Charles Napier, London, 1862, and in the published letters of his cousins, Charles James, George Thomas, and William F. P. Napier.]

H. M. C.