Napier, Gerard (DNB00)

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NAPIER, Sir GERARD (1606–1673), royalist, baptised at Steeple, Dorset, on 19 Oct. 1606, was eldest son of Sir Nathaniel Napier, of More Crichel, in the same county, by Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of John Gerard of Hyde, in the Isle of Purbeck (Hutchins, Dorset, 3rd ed. iii. 125). Sir Robert Napier (d. 1615) [q. v.] was his grandfather, and Robert Napier (1611–1686) [q. v.] was his brother. He was a commoner of Trinity College, Oxford, in 1623–4. During his father's lifetime he lived at Middlemarsh Hall, Dorset. In April 1640 Napier, as deputy-lieutenant of Dorset, joined his colleague, Sir George Hastings, in pressing men for the king's service, but was not considered energetic enough by the lord-lieutenant, Theophilus Howard, second earl of Suffolk [q. v.], who reported his remissness to Charles. He was accordingly ordered to be examined by the attorney-general and afterwards to be brought up before the lords (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1640, pp. 55, 120, 125). On 21 Oct. he was elected M.P. for Melcombe Regis, and in June 1641, having made his peace at court, he was created a knight and a baronet (Metcalfe, Book of Knights, p. 196). The House of Commons, having ineffectually summoned him to attend in his place in July and again in October 1642, ordered that he be sent for as a delinquent on 12 Nov. (Commons' Journals, ii. 685, 804, 845). On 5 Jan. 1643 he was required to lend 500l. ‘for the service of parliament’ (ib. ii. 916), but as he did not comply, directions were given to apprehend him on 10 April (ib. iii. 38). At length he sent a letter expressing his readiness to make a contribution, whereupon the commons, on 26 May, voted that his attendance in the house be dispensed with, to the end that he might better further their interests in the country (ib. iii. 105; Tanner MS. lxii. 100). As a commissioner from the king, Napier, along with Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper and Sir John Hele, addressed a letter on 3 Aug. to the mayor and corporation of Dorchester, Dorset, urging the surrender of the town (ib. lxii. 217). The commons retaliated on 22 Jan. 1644 by voting him incapable of sitting ‘during this parliament’ (Commons' Journals, iii. 374). He deemed it prudent to make his submission to the parliament on 20 Sept., when he took the covenant, advanced 500l. for the relief of parliament garrisons, and apologised very humbly for his loyalty. As he subsequently asserted that he had sustained much damage at the hands of the king's party, by whom his estate was sequestered, his fine was fixed at the comparatively small sum of 3,514l. (Cal. of Committee for Compounding, p. 1061). During the Commonwealth Napier is said to have sent by Sir Gilbert Taylor 500l. to Charles II. Taylor detained the money, and for his dishonesty he was prosecuted by Napier after the Restoration. In December 1662 he was appointed with eleven others a commissioner for discovering all waste lands belonging to the crown in twenty-three parishes in Dorset (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1663–4, pp. 43, 81, 655). Charles II, with whom Napier became a favourite, ordered a number of deer to be sent to him annually from the New Forest without fee. He entertained the king and queen at More Crichel, when the court removed to Salisbury on account of the plague in 1665. Napier died at More Crichel on 14 May 1673, and was buried in Minterne Church, Dorset (Hutchins, iv. 483). By his wife, Margaret (d. 1660), daughter and co-heiress of John Colles of Barton, Somerset, he left one surviving son, Sir Nathaniel Napier [q. v.], and two daughters.

[Visitation of Dorset, 1623 (Harl. Soc.), p. 74; Burke's Extinct Baronetage; will registered in P. C. C. 128, Pye.]

G. G.