John Napier, Inventor of Logarithms: His children and grandchildren.

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Because so many people claim descent from John of Logarithms, sometimes, unfortunately, wrongly, the children and grandchildren of John of Logarithms are given on this separate page. The main reason for this is to try to rectify the misunderstanding arising from the unfortunate statement in the publication The Napier Family by Ivor Napier, published privately in the USA in 1963, that John's son Robert had a son called Patrick who went to the Virginia. As you will see, Robert did not have a son called Patrick. The Patrick who was in Virginia in the 1650s was descended from the Napiers of Kilmahew.

John Napier, eighth Laird of Merchiston, was the eldest son of Sir Archibald Napier, seventh Laird of Merchiston. He was born in 1550 when his father was only 17. He matriculated at St Andrews University in 1563 (at the age of 13!) but did not graduate. He studied in Europe, mainly in Paris. He returned to Edinburgh in 1571 in preparation for his marriage. His main claim to fame is the invention of Logarithms, but he achieved much more. Although a man who would rather not be in the public eye but be immersed in his scientific studies, he was from time to time thrust into the service of Church and State. He took a great part in running the family estates and was consulted by the whole family. He did not inherit the estates of his father until 1608, when he was 58 years old. He married, firstly in 1572-3, Elizabeth Striveling (or Stirling), daughter of Sir James Striveling of Keir and his wife Jane Cheisholime (Chisholm), by whom he had at least four children, according to available sources: Archibald (who became the first Lord Napier); Joan (who is mentioned in a document of 1595), and Agnes and Barbara (probably twins because they were both christened on the same day, 18 September 1575 according to the Old Parish Registers). This Agnes is probably the Agnes that is sometimes referred to as the daughter of John and his second wife (see below). It is not known what became of Barbara but it is likely that she died young.. Elizabeth died in 1579 and John married for a second time. All that is known about the date of this marriage is that it took place "a few years after the death of his first wife". His second wife was Agnes Chisholm, from the same Chisholm family that had provided the second wife of his great-grandfather.. In fact, Agnes Chisholm was a second cousin of John's first wife, and also a second cousin of his father! This second marriage produced at least ten children; John of Schambodie; Robert of Boquhopple, Drumhony, and Culcreuch; Alexander of Torrie-Easter; William of Ardmore; Adam (of West Nisbet); Margaret; Jean; Elizabeth; Agnes and Helen. The Old Parish Register of St Cuthbert’s Parish, Edinburgh, shows that a “Johne Naper and Agnes Chisholme” had two children, Barbara, christened on 23 October 1606, and a male child, christened on 13 October 1608. The latter probably died within days of being born, or was stillborn, hence it not having a forename. There is nothing in the register to show that this was John, eighth Laird of Merchiston, but it probably was, because it is unlikely that there were two John Napiers both married to an Agnes Chisholm there at the same timeJohn died on the 3 April 1617, and is reputedly buried in the crypt of St Cuthbert's Church (formerly known as the West Kirk) in Edinburgh and not in the family vault in St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh as is sometimes stated.

The Children, and Grandchildren, of John Napier (John of Logs),
Eighth Laird of Merchiston.

Archibald, eldest son and only son of the marriage between John of Logs and Elizabeth Striveling (or Stirling) was baptised on 26 July 1574. He became a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to King James VI, Treasurer Depute of Scotland in 1622, Lord of Session in 1623, and one of the Bearers of the Canopy in the State Procession of 1633. He was created a Baronet of Nova Scotia on 2 May 1627 and two days later was raised to the Scottish Peerage with the title of Lord Napier of Merchistoune. In 1640 he supported King Charles I and was imprisoned with his son, the Master of Napier, The Master escaped and Lord Napier and the rest of the family were imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle and fined £10,000. They were transferred to Linlithgow but the Master managed to organise their escape. Both Lord Napier and the Master of Napier fought with the Marquess of Montrose (Lord Napier's brother-in-law) at the Battle of Philiphaugh, but managed to escape. Lord Napier died in 1645. He married (1619) Margaret Graham, second daughter of John, fourth Earl of Montrose, and sister of James, first Marquess of Montrose. They had four children:

  1. John, born 22 May 1623, died young;
  2. Archibald, second Lord Napier, (birth date unknown), married Lady Elizabeth Erskine, eldest daughter of John, eighth Earl of Mar,, died at Delfsham in Holland, in 1660;
  3. Margaret, married in 1637 to Sir George Stirling of Keir, died before 1654;
  4. Lilias, born 15 December 1626, died unmarried after 1665.

Joan. Nothing is known of this person except that she is mentioned in a document dated 1595.

Agnes. Baptised 18 September 1575. Married (contract dated 14 June and 11 July, 1620) George Drummond of Balloch. No children known.

Barbara. Baptised 18 September 1575. She was a twin of the above Agnes, but nothing else is known about her. It is very likely that she died very young.

John of Schambodie, eldest son of the marriage between John of Logs and Agnes Chisholm. Birth date not known. Married Mary Foulis, daughter of Sir James Foulis of Colinton (contract dated 21st December 1613). John and Mary had a charter of the lands of Easter-Torrie from his mother and father, dated 22 January 1614. He conveyed these lands to his brother Alexander on 10 January 1622. Nothing else is known about John. John and Mary had two children, who probably died young.:

  1. John, birth date unknown but who was baptized on 9 April 1615;
  2. Anna, birth date unknown but who was baptized on 26 May 1616.

Robert, second son of the marriage between John of Logs and Agnes Chisholm. Born 1580. Inherited the lands of Boquhopple (Bowhopple) in 1620, Drumhony in 1628, and Culcreuch in 1634. He edited and published his father's papers. He was put on the Commission of the Peace for Stirlingshire and, with others, managed the estates of his nephew, the second Lord Napier, during the Commonwealth. He died in 1655. He married twice. By his first wife, whose name is not known, he had two sons:

  1. Archibald of Boquhopple "who had a numerous race of descendants, the last of whom, being the fifth generation, died without issue in 1817";
  2. John, who died a single person.

Robert's second wife was Anna, daughter of Sir William Drummond of Riccarton, third baronet. They had two sons and a daughter:

  1. William of Culcreuch, who was heir in the lands of Culbeg, Stirlingshire (19 August 1657) married and had one son, who died young (name of his wife and son unknown at this time);
  2. Alexander, heir of his father in the lands of Boquhopple (1 June 1655), and acquired Culcreuch from his elder brother in 1675. Alexander married twice. He and his first wife (name unknown) did not have any children. His second wife's name was Margaret Lennox and they had three sons. It was from the eldest of these sons, John, that came the descendants who ultimately succeeded to the Baronetcy of Nova Scotia in the early 1800s, after the succession had died out with the death of the third Lord Napier;
  3. A daughter whose name and fate is unknown at this time.

Alexander of Torrie-Easter. Birth date not known. He married (date unknown) Ann Dunkeson probably before 1636. They had one child. Alexander died in October 1652.

  1. Anne, born 2 April 1636. She was declared heir to Alexander on 6 September 1653. She married William Cunningham of Craigends.

William of Ardmore. Birth date not known. He married Margaret Cunningham, who is mentioned in a charter of the lands of Easter-Torrie. It would not be surprising if Margaret Cunningham and William Cunningham (see above) were found to be related. There is a date of 30 June 1630 quoted for the conveyancing of the charter. However this cannot be correct as it is six years before Anne was born. No information about the children of the marriage of William and Margaret is known at this time, but it is stated that William is the ancestor of the Napiers of Craiganet.

Adam. Birth date unknown. He married (before 1639) Anna Buchan and they had a grant of the lands and barony of West Nisbet, dated 27 December 1639. Adam died in August 1647. It is stated that Adam was the progenitor of the Napiers of Blackstoun, County Renfrew. Adam and Anna had two children:

  1. Alexander (or Archibald as quoted in one source) was christened at Holyrood on 3rd December 1644 in the presence of Archibald, Lord Napier, and Sir George Stirling of Keir, his two great-grandfathers!. Alexander/Archibald married Catherine, daughter and sole heiress of John Maxwell of Blackstoun, through whom the family inherited the Blackstoun estate;
  2. Anna or Anne, about whom there is no information at this time.

Anna (mother) survived Adam and was appointed guardian to the children.

Margaret Birth date unknown. Married James Stewart of Rossyth, the banns being published on 16 May 1606. She was alive in 1613. No children known.

Jean. Birth date not known. The banns of her marriage to John Gaw of Maw were also published on 16 May 1606. She married a second time (marriage contract dated 17 March 1620), George Hamilton, eldest son and apparent heir of James Hamilton of Kinbraxmonth. No children known.

Helen. No birth date known. Married (contract dated 18 January 1629) Mathew Brisbane, only son of William Brisbane, parson of Erskine. (It might be possible that this Brisbane is the same family as the John Brisbane that Margaret, Baroness Napier, fifth holder of the title in her own right, married in 1676). No children known.

© Charlie Napier,
Morningside, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Last modified:
31 October 2015

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