Napier, Francis (DNB00)

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NAPIER, FRANCIS, seventh Lord Napier (1758–1823), born at Ipswich on 23 Feb. 1758, was eldest son of William, sixth lord Napier, who from 17 Jan. 1763 until his death on 2 Jan. 1775 was adjutant-general of the forces in Scotland, by his wife, Mainie (or Marion Anne), fourth daughter of Charles, eighth lord Cathcart. He entered the army on 3 Dec. 1774 as ensign in the 31st regiment of foot, and on 21 March 1776 obtained a lieutenancy in the same regiment. Having accompanied his regiment to Canada under General Burgoyne, he was one of those who surrendered to the American general, Gates, at Saratoga on 16 Oct. 1777. For six months he was detained a prisoner at Cambridge, but obtained permission to return to Europe on giving his parole not to serve in America until regularly exchanged. This took place in October 1780. On 7 Nov. 1779 he purchased a captain's commission in the 35th foot, which, at the peace in 1783, was reduced to half-pay. On 31 May 1784 he exchanged to full pay as captain of the 4th regiment of foot, and on 29 Dec. purchased the majority of that corps, which he sold in 1789.

On 16 Sept. 1789 Napier laid the foundation-stone of the new buildings of Edinburgh University, and on 11 Nov. following the university conferred on him the degree of LL.D. At the election of Scottish peers on 24 July 1790 the vote of Napier was protested against, on account of an error in writing sexagesimo instead of septuagesimo in the second patent of the barony of Napier when referring to the date of the original charter in 1677; but on 25 Feb. 1793 the lord chancellor moved the committee of privileges to resolve that Napier was entitled to vote at the election of 1790, and the resolution was unanimously agreed to, and confirmed by the House of Lords on 4 July. He was chosen a representative peer in 1796, and again in 1802 and in 1807. On 12 Nov. 1797 he was appointed lord-lieutenant of Selkirkshire. He was lieutenant-colonel of the Hopetoun fencibles from the embodiment of the regiment in 1793 until its disbandment in 1799. From 1802 until the close of his life he was annually nominated lord high commissioner to the general assembly of the church of Scotland. On 10 Nov. 1803 he became a member of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, and on 3 Jan. 1805 was elected president of the society. On 5 July 1806 he was constituted a member of the board of trustees for the encouragement of Scottish fisheries and manufactures. He died on 1 Aug. 1823.

Napier compiled with great care a digest of his charters and private papers, forming a genealogical account of his family, which remains in manuscript. He also supplied Wood with important information regarding the Napiers for his edition of Douglas's ‘Peerage.’ By his wife, Maria Margaret, eldest daughter of Lieutenant-general Sir John Clavering, he had nine children—four sons and five daughters—of whom William John [q. v.] succeeded him as eighth lord, and is separately noticed.

[Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), ii. 302, 303; Mark Napier's Memoirs of John Napier; Gent. Mag. 1823, pt. ii. p. 467.]

T. F. H.