Francis Napier, baron Napier and Ettrick - Encyclopedia

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FRANCIS NAPIER NAPIER AND ETTRICK, Baron (1819-1898), British diplomatist, was descended from the ancient Scottish family of Napier of Merchistoun, his ancestor Sir Alexander Napier (d. c. 1 473) being the elder son of Alexander Napier (d. c. 14J4), provost of Edinburgh, who obtained lands at Merchistoun early in the 15th century. Sir Alexander was comptroller of the household of the king of Scotland, and was often sent to England and elsewhere on public business. Of his descendants one Napier of Merchistoun was killed at Sauchieburn, another fell at Flodden and a third at Pinkie. The seventh Napier of Merchistoun was Sir Archibald Napier (1534-1608), master of the Scottish mint, and the eighth was John Napier the inventor of logarithms. John's eldest son, Sir Archibald Napier (c. 1576-1645), was treasurer-depute of Scotland from 1622 to 1631, and was created Lord Napier of Merchistoun in 1627. He married Margaret Graham, sister of the great marquess of Montrose, whose cause he espoused, and he wrote some Memoirs which were published in Edinburgh in 1793. His son Archibald, the 2nd lord (1625-1658), fought under Montrose at Auldearn, at Alford, at Kilsyth and at Philiphaugh, and was afterwards with his famous uncle on the continent of Europe. His son, Archibald, the 3rd lord (d. 1683), was succeeded by special arrangement in the title, first by his nephew, Thomas Nicolson (1669-1686), a son of his sister Jean and her husband Sir Thomas Nicolson, Bart. (d. 1670), and then by his sister Margaret (d. 1706), the widow of John Brisbane (d. 1684). The 6th lord was Margaret's grandson Francis Scott (c. 1 7 02 - 1 773), a son of Sir William Scott, Bart., of Thirlestane (d. 1725). Francis Scott, who took the additional name of Napier, had a large family, his sons including William, the 7th lord, and Colonel George Napier (1751-1804). His famous grandsons are dealt with above. Another literary member of the family was Mark Napier (1798-1879), called by Mr Andrew Lang "the impetuous biographer of Montrose," who wrote Memoirs of John Napier of Merchiston (1834), Montrose and the Covenanters (1838), Memoirs of Montrose (1856), Memorials of Graham of Claverhouse (1859-1862), and a valuable legal work, The Law of Prescription in Scotland (1839 and again 1854). William, 7th Lord Napier (1730-1775), was succeeded as 8th lord by his son Francis (17J81823), who, after serving in the English army during the American War of Independence, was lord high commissioner to the general assembly of the Church of Scotland, and compiled a genealogical account of his family which is still in manuscript. His son William John, the 9th lord (1786-1834), who was present at the battle of Trafalgar, was the father of Francis Napier, Lord Napier and Ettrick.

Born on the 15th of September 1819 Francis entered the diplomatic service in 1840, and was employed in successive posts at Vienna, Constantinople, Naples, Washington and the Hague. During this time he earned the highest opinions both at home and abroad. In 1860 he became ambassador at St Petersburg, and in 1864 at Berlin. In 1866 he was appointed governor of Madras, and was at once confronted with a serious famine in the northern districts. In dealing with this and other problems he showed great activity and practical sense, and he encouraged public works, particularly irrigation. In 1872 he acted for a few months as Viceroy, after Lord Mayo's assassination; and on Lord Northbrook's appointment to the office he returned to England, being created a baron of the United Kingdom (Baron Ettrick of Ettrick) for his services. He continued, both in England and in Scotland, to take great interest in social questions. He was for a time a member of the London School Board, and he was chairman of the Crofters' Commission in 1883, the result of which was the appointment of a permanent body to deal with questions affecting the Scottish crofters and cottars. He died at Florence on the 19th of December 1898, leaving a widow and three sons, the eldest of whom, William John George (b. 1846), succeeded to his titles.

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