Napier, Alexander (DNB00)

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NAPIER, Sir ALEXANDER (d. 1473?), second of Merchiston, comptroller of Scotland, was the elder son of Alexander Napier, burgess of Edinburgh and provost of the city in 1437, who made a fortune by his extensive dealings in wool, had money transactions with James I previous to 1433, and as security got a charge over the lands of Merchiston, which were then in the king's hands. In 1436 he secured a charter of these lands, reserving a power of redemption to the king. But the redemption never took place, probably owing to the confusion caused by the king's murder at Perth on 20 Feb. 1436–7 (Exchequer Rolls, iv. and v.). Alexander died about 1454. The son was one of the household of the queen-mother, Jane Beaufort (widow of James I, who afterwards married Sir James Stewart, called the Black Knight of Lorn), and was wounded in assisting to rescue her and her husband when they were captured on 3 Aug. 1439 by Alexander Livingstone and others in Stirling Castle. As a reward for his conduct on this occasion Napier, after the forfeiture of Livingstone, obtained from James II on 7 March 1449–50 the lands of Philde (or Filledy-Fraser), forming part of the lordship of Methven, Perthshire (Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1424–1513, entry 324), and the charter was confirmed to him and his wife Elizabeth, 9 March 1450–1 (ib. entry 425). These lands were again, however, in the possession of the Livingstones before December 1466 (ib. entry 898). After the arrest, on 23 Sept. 1449, of Robert Livingstone, comptroller of the household, Napier succeeded to his office (Exchequer Rolls, v. 369), and he held this office, with occasional intervals, until 7 July 1461. He was one of the ambassadors to England who on 14 Aug. 1451 signed a three years' truce (Rymer, Fœdera, xi. 293; Cal. Documents relating to Scotl. 1357–1509, entry 1139), and took advantage of his visit to London to make a pilgrimage to the tomb of Thomas Becket at Canterbury.

Napier had a charter of the lands of Lindores and Kinloch in the county of Fife, 24 May 1452 (Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1424–1513, entry 565), as security for the sum of 1,000l. advanced by him to the king. In 1452, 1453, 1454, 1456, 1469, and 1470 he was provost of Edinburgh (List of Provosts in Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1403–1528, pp. 258–261, Burgh Record Society's Publications). During his tenure of office the choir of St. Giles's was building, and this may account for his arms appearing over the capital of one of the pillars. On 10 May 1459 Napier, along with the Abbot of Melrose and others, had a safe-conduct from the king of England to go to Scotland and return at pleasure (Cal. Documents relating to Scotland, 1357–1509, entry 1299). He was knighted and made vice-admiral some time before 24 Sept. 1461, when he was appointed one of the ambassadors to the court of England. By commission under the privy seal, 24 Feb. 1464–5, he was appointed one of the searchers of the port and haven of Leith to prevent the exportation of gold and silver, and he had a similar appointment in 1473. In 1468 he was named joint-commissioner with Andrew Stewart, lord chancellor, to negotiate a marriage between James III and Margaret, daughter of Christian I of Denmark. He was one of the commissioners appointed by the parliament of 6 May 1471 with power to determine all matters that should occur for the welfare of the king and common good of the realm. In 1472 he was in Bruges ‘taking up finance’ and purchasing armour for the king (Receipt in Wood's Peerage, ed. Douglas, ii. 284; and Napier's Life of John Napier, p. 26). He also held the office of master of the household, and in this capacity he provided ‘travelling gear’ for the king and queen when, after the birth of an heir to the throne—James IV—17 March 1472–3, they went on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Ninian at Whithorn, Galloway (Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer, i. 44). In May 1473 he was sent on a special embassy to the court of Burgundy, with secret instructions from James III, respecting the king's claims to the duchy of Gueldres. He died some time between 24 Oct. 1473 and 15 Feb. 1473–4, when his son was infeft as heir. He was buried in St. Giles's Church, Edinburgh. By his wife Elizabeth Lauder, probably a daughter of the laird of Halton or Hatton, he had three sons—John, his heir, who married Elizabeth, daughter and coheiress of Menteith of Rusky, who on 19 June 1492 was declared legal possessor of a fourth part of the earldom of Lennox; Henry, who married Janet, daughter of John Ramsay of Colluthie; and Alexander—and a daughter, Janet, married to Sir David Edmonston of that ilk.

The eldest son, John (third of Merchiston), known as John of Rusky, was killed at the battle of Sauchieburn on 11 June 1488. His eldest son, Archibald, fourth of Merchiston (d. 1522), was three times married. By his first wife he had issue Alexander, fifth of Merchiston, who was knighted in 1507, and was killed at Flodden Field 9 Sept. 1513, leaving issue a son Alexander, who was killed at the battle of Pinkie in 1547, and left a son, Sir Archibald Napier (1534–1608) [q. v.] By his third wife Archibald, fourth of Merchiston, had two sons, Alexander and Mungo, of whom the elder settled at Exeter, where he was known as Sandy, and became father of Richard Napier (1559–1634) [q. v.]

[Information kindly supplied by W. Rae Macdonald, esq., of Edinburgh; Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot.; Exchequer Rolls of Scotland; Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer; Cal. Documents relating to Scotland; Rymer's Fœdera; Napier's Life of John Napier; Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), ii. 284.]

T. F. H.