Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 40.djvu/80

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


<span title="Chester">ter, London Marriage Licenses, ed. Foster, col. 958); secondly, Catherine, sister of Lord Hawley; and thirdly, by license dated 18 March 1668, Mary, daughter of Sir Thomas Evelyn, bart., of Long Ditton, Surrey, and widow of Edmond Ironside of Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, who survived him. By his first wife he left a son and a daughter, Anne, who married John Fry of Yarty, Devonshire, son of the regicide John Fry (1609–1657) [q. v.]

His son, Sir Robert Napier (1642?–1700), born about 1642, matriculated at Oxford from Trinity College on 1 April 1656, but did not graduate, and became a member of the Middle Temple in 1660. He is wrongly stated to have been master of the hanaper office. On 27 Jan. 1681, being then high sheriff for Dorset, he was knighted (Luttrell, Brief Historical Relation, i. 64), and on 25 Feb. 1682 became a baronet. He was M.P. for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis in 1689–90, and for Dorchester in 1690 till unseated on 6 Oct. 1690. He was, however, re-elected in 1698. Napier died on 31 Oct. 1700. By license dated 25 Oct. 1667 he married Sophia Evelyn of Long Ditton.

[Hutchins's Dorset, 3rd ed. ii. 770; Burke's Extinct Baronetage.]

G. G.

NAPIER, ROBERT (1791–1876), marine engineer, born at Dumbarton on 18 June 1791, was the son of a well-to-do blacksmith and burgess of that town. After receiving a good general education at the Dumbarton grammar school, and acquiring considerable skill in mathematical and architectural drawing under the instruction of a friend of his father, named Traill, who was connected with Messrs. Dixon's works, Napier was in 1807, at his own request, apprenticed to his father for five years. He occupied his spare time in making small tools, drawing-instruments, guns, and gun-locks, and executed the smith's work for Messrs. Stirling's extensive calico-printing works. At the end of his apprenticeship in 1812 Napier went to Edinburgh, where, after precarious employment at low wages, he obtained a post in Robert Stevenson's works. A blunder in his first attempt to construct the boiler of a steam-engine led to Napier's return to his father, and in 1815 he purchased a small blacksmith's business in Greyfriars' Wynd, Glasgow. He succeeded so well as to be able to remove his business to the Camlachie works in Gallowgate, which had been previously occupied by his cousin, David Napier [q. v.] Here he engaged in ironfounding and engineering, and in 1823 constructed his first marine engine for the steamship Leven, which was to ply between Glasgow and Dumbarton. In 1826 he constructed the engines for the Eclipse, for the Glasgow and Belfast route; and in 1827, in a steamboat race on the Clyde, two vessels with engines provided by Napier proved the fastest. The following year Napier took over more extensive works at the Vulcan foundry in Washington Street, near the harbour, the deepening of which enabled vessels of larger size to be built, and provided with engines at Glasgow. In 1830 he joined the Glasgow Steam-packet Company, and supplied the engines for most of its vessels running between Glasgow and Liverpool. Three years later he was consulted as to the practicability of running steamships between England and New York; his report was favourable, but the project was abandoned for lack of funds. In 1834 Napier engined three steam-packets to ply between London and Dundee, and in the following year succeeded his cousin David at the Lancefield foundry on Anderston Quay.

In 1836 Napier supplied engines of 230 horse-power for the East India Company's vessel Berenice, and soon after engines of 280 horse-power for the same company's Zenobia (drawings of the Berenice are given on plates xcv. and xcvi. in Tredgold, The Steam Engine, ed. Woolhouse). In 1839 he engined the British Queen, which was to run between England and New York, and the Fire King, a steam yacht belonging to Mr. Assheton Smith, which proved the fastest vessel then afloat. In 1840 he became member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and executed his first commission for the government by supplying engines for the Vesuvius and the Stromboli. About the same time he contracted to supply Samuel Cunard with engines of 300 horse-power for three vessels of 1,000 tons, to carry mails to North America. Convinced that these were not large enough, Napier induced Cunard to order four vessels of 1,200 tons and 400 horse-power; and, to meet the expense, others were induced to join in the contract. This was the origin of the Cunard Company; and for fifteen years Napier engined all their paddle-wheel ships.

Hitherto Napier had confined himself to constructing engines, but in 1841 he opened his shipbuilding yard at Govan, and in 1843 he built his first ship, the Vanguard, of 680 tons, for the Glasgow and Dublin route. In 1850 he began constructing iron ships, his first being one for the Peninsular and Oriental Company in 1852; in 1851 he was a juror at the Great Exhibition, London. In 1854 he built for the Cunard Company the Persia, of 3,300 tons; in 1855 he was a juror at the Paris