Napier Family History

By Frederick DeWitt Shelton

Circa 1941

The line of descent of my family through the Napier family in America is as follows:

1.     Dr. Patrick Napier who came to Virginia between 1650 and 1655. His son was

2.     Robert Napier, born 1660. His son was

3.     Robert Napier, Jr., or Robert R. Napier, born 1697. His son was

4.     Ashford Napier who at various times lived in Fluvanna County, Va., Henry County, Va., and Franklin County, Va. His son was

5.     Ashford Napier, born December 29, 1784. He went west, to Illinois, and then to northern Arkansas where he died. His son was

6.     Cyrus Napier, born January 21, 1829 in Illinois, and later married, lived and died in Webster County, Missouri. His daughter was

7.     Jincie Napier, born March 2, 1862. She married Samuel Azariah Shelton. Their son was

8.     Frederick DeWitt Shelton, born September 11, 1894, in Webster County, Missouri. He married Charline McCanse. Their son is

9.     Napier Shelton, born December 2, 1931, in Washington D. C.

More detailed notes on these Napiers and their families are found in the following pages.

Much of the early Napier data I got from Miss Jean Stephenson of Washington D. C., who is a descendant of the original Patrick Napier who came to America and settled in Virginia. Additional data came from George M. Napier, at one time Attorney General of the State of Georgia, also a descendant of Dr. Patrick Napier. Some information I got myself from the state and county records in Virginia, and from my mother and her brothers and sister.

(1)     Dr. Patrick Napier: Miss Stephenson says he came to Virginia "soon after 1650". George M. Napier says he "came over from Scotland in 1655". In Virginia, in 1658, he married Elizabeth Booth, daughter of Robert Booth. He died in 1669. He was a physician. Miss Stephenson says he had only one son. George M. Napier says he and Elizabeth Booth Napier "had a large family of children, both sons and daughters". It is agreed that his eldest son was Robert Napier (2). And according to George M. Napier's records his second son was Booth Napier, ancestor of said George M. Napier, who has the record of the line of descent from him.

(2)     Robert Napier, born 1660, married Mary Perrin. Robert Napier lived in Virginia.

Land grants were patented to him as follows:

          190 acres, recorded on page 121, Book 8 of the land patent records in the State Land Office at Richmond Va. covering years from 1689 to 1695.

          753 acres, recorded on page 305, Book 8.

          300 acres, recorded on page 614, Book 9, for the years 1695 to 1706.

Mary Perrin, wife of Robert Napier (2) was the daughter of Richard Perrin and Catherine Banks Royall, both prominent in the early history of Virginia and since.

(3)     Robert Napier, Junior, son of Robert Napier (2). Miss Stephenson lists him as Robert R. Napier. On the deeds I found in Goochland and Albemarle Counties, he is recorded as Robert Napier, Junior, or Robert Napier. He signed certain instruments with "his mark" which was an "R" in the middle of the name. That may have caused someone to list him as Robert R. Napier.

He was born in 1697, and married Mary Hughes, brother of Ashford Hughes. He died in Albemarle County, Virginia, in 1763, and his will is recorded there (Charlottsville) in Will Book No. 2, page 145, dated 1763.

Royal land grants patented to Robert Napier (3) are recorded in the State Land Office at Richmond as follows:

          Robert Napier, Junior, 200 acres, page 167, Book No. 16, for the year 1735. Also 100 acres, page 485, in the same book No. 16.

          In Goochland County, Va., there is record of a deed from Robert Napier, Junior, to John Lee, dated November 16, 1737. Consideration 14 pounds, described as being land patented to Robert Napier in 1735.

          Also in Goochland County, Va., there is record of a deed from Robert Napier, Junior, of Goochland County, to Mary Napier his wife, deeding to her one Negro Wench, to go after her lifetime to "my son Patrick Napier". Date, January 5, 1743.

          Also in Goochland County, Va., there is record of a deed from Robert Napier, Junior, to Francis Napier his daughter, deeding to her one Negro boy named Will.

Among his children were Ashford Napier (4) and Patrick Napier.

(4)     Ashford Napier, obviously named for Ashford Hughes, his uncle. There are records of Ashford Napier (4) in Fluvanna County, Va., in 1776; in Henry County, Va., in 1785; and in Franklin County, Va., in 1786. He is mentioned in Fluvanna County records as late as 1794. He married Mary Ann Staples.

In Albemarle County there is a record of a deed from Ashford Napier to Archibold Ingram, mortgage to secure a loan of 106 pounds. Date, December 20,1763. Deed is to 200 acre plantation "where he now lives and given to him by his father Robert Napier, deceased". Land is described as lying "on the upper side of Rivanna River" in Albemarle County.

Also in Albemarle County there is a record of a deed, dated November 13, 1772, from John Hylton to Ashford Napier "of St. Ann Parish, described as being in Albemarle County and lying on both sides of north fork of Cunningham Creek of Rivanna River (now in Fluvanna County).

In Fluvanna County, Va., (formerly Albemarle County) there is record of a deed to Ashford Napier from George Hilton. Date August 11, 1778. Consideration, 115 pounds. 300 acres, described as lying on both sides of Bryery Creek. Deed was witnessed by David Staples, Senior, which is interesting since Ashford's wife was a Staples.

Also in Fluvanna County, Va., there is recorded a deed dated November 4, 1779 from Ashford Napier and Mary Ann his wife to Ann Thompson. 300 acres. Land is described as lying on both sides of Bryery Creek in Fluvanna County. Consideration was 400 pounds. It was the same land that Ashford Napier had bought from George Hilton in 1778 - a good profit.

Also in Fluvanna County, Va., there is record of a deed from Ashford Napier and Mary Ann his wife of Fluvanna County to John Farrer. Date, September 7, 1780. 218 acres, lying on both sides of the north fork of Cunningham Creek. Consideration, 200 pounds. This is the same tract bought by Ashford Napier in 1772 for 60 pounds - another good profit.

Then Ashford Napier appears to have moved to Franklin County, Va., after selling his land in Fluvanna County. There is record in Fluvanna County of a deed, dated February 17, 1786, from Ashford Napier "of Franklin County, Va.", to Christopher Isbell. Consideration, 10 pounds. 96 acres, described as lying on the north branches of the middle fork of Cunningham Creek, and as "land that has been patented to Ashford Napier". (I did not note any land patents to Ashford Napier in the Land Office Records, but I easily could have missed it.)

(Both Albemarle County and Fluvanna County were formerly parts of Goochland County.)

Children of Ashford Napier (4) and Mary Ann his wife were:

          Thomas Napier, who married Susannah Unknown. He died sometime before 1823.

          Robert Napier, who married Katherine Unknown, before 1801.

          William Napier, who married Betsy Witcher.

          David S. Napier, who married his cousin Winifred Champion Napier (whose brother John Meredith Napier was the great great grandfather of Miss Jean Stephenson. They had another brother named Samuel Shelton Napier.)

          John Napier, who was born in 1778, and moved to Kentucky.

          Ashford Napier (5), born December 29, 1784. He married Nancy Dorris. He was my (the writer, Frederick DeWitt Shelton's) great grandfather.

          Elizabeth Napier, who married Elisha Keen.

          Mary Ann, who married Skelton Brown.

          Susannah Napier.

Several of the children of Ashford Napier (4) had sons named Ashford.

Ashford Napier (5), son of Ashford Napier (4), was born December 29, 1784. I have not seen any records of him in Virginia, but such records probably would be in Franklin County, or possibly in Giles or Montgomery Counties. My information about him comes from my Mother and her brother and sister, with some data taken from an old bible which I have.

Ashford Napier (5) left Virginia and went west. He may have lived for awhile in North Carolina. I have a vague recollection that he lived at one time in Rockingham County, North Carolina.

Stories handed down to me through may family tell of Ashford's relations with his brother David S. Napier. David had a plantation and was a slave owner. Ashford was opposed to slavery, and the two brothers had a "falling out" over the slavery question. David remained on the plantation and one story told is that his slave quarters "were three miles long". After Ashford Napier went west, David wrote to him and urged him to return and told him that he would "give Ashford his weight in gold". But Ashford refused, saying that "the gold would have come from the blood of slave labor and he would not want it".

My Uncle Michael Napier said that he thought the plantation of David S. Napier was in Virginia, but there is no dependable information as to this. (Note on copy reads, "Later I saw records showing it was in Rockingham County, North Carolina.")

I do not know just when Ashford started west. He married his second wife, Nancy Dorris, in Kentucky, and their first child was born on February 11, 1825. And his son, Cyrus Napier (6), my grandfather, was born in Illinois, January 21, 1829. We know that Ashford Napier was for a while in Kentucky and in Illinois (Note on the copy reads, "Ashford sojourned in Ill. just across the Ohio River from Kentucky. I have official records of this.") and that he finally moved to Missouri, and then to Arkansas where he died. My aunt Martha Napier King thinks he moved to Arkansas about the year 1835.

Ashford Napier (5) and his wife were buried on Big Pigeon Creek, near the city of Mountain Home, Arkansas.

We do not know the name of the first wife of Ashford Napier (5). From the old bible that I have, the children by his first wife are listed as follows (the writing is dim, and some names and dates can not be clearly read) (Refer to Addendum dated December 1993):

          Nancy (?) W. Napier, born June 8, 1806.

          Juda F. Napier, born March 24, 1809.

          C____ D. Napier, born March 31, 1811.

          William S. Napier, born February 3, 1815.

          Stacy C. Napier, born May 28, 1816.

          Elijah and Elisha Napier, born February 8, (?), 1819.

          John ____ Napier, born July (?) 28, 1821.

Ashford Napier's (5) second wife was Nancy Dorris. She was born October 22, 1794, and died May 24, 1840. She was a widow, a Mrs. Eckols, with children (3 or 4 or 5) when Ashford Napier married her while living in Kentucky. She had a brother Josiah Dorris. The children of Ashford Napier (5) and Nancy Dorris were:

          Susan J Napier, born February 11, 1825.

          David S. Napier, born April 27, 1826.

          Stephen D. Napier, born May 17, 1827.

          Cyrus Napier (6), my grandfather, born January 21, 1829.

          Elizabeth Napier, born February 21, 1831.

          Ashford Napier, born December 24, 1832.

          Joseph D. Napier, born January 22, 1834.

          Mary Ann Napier, born November 25, 1836.

Cyrus Napier (6), my grandfather, was born January 21, 1829 in Illinois, and died March 30, 1899 on his farm near Duncan, on Cantrell Creek, in the eastern part of Webster County, Missouri. He is buried at Mountain Zion Church, about 3 miles from Duncan, Webster County, Missouri. He was a small boy when he came with his grandfather, Ashford Napier, to live in Arkansas. One story is that he and his father's family lived awhile in Missouri before moving to Arkansas. Cyrus later moved back to Webster County, Missouri, where he married and settled as a farmer and raised a family. He died on the farm where he lived for many years.

I was a small boy, 5 years old, when he died, but I had visited him at his farm, and remember him vaguely. I don't remember his personality, but the picture that sticks in my mind is one where he was sitting tranquilly in his big hickory-split rocking chair.

Cyrus Napier's first wife was Malinda ____, who died July 18, 1852. I believe they had a son John Napier. He married Nancy K. Bennett, daughter of Richmond Bennett and Mary Russell Bennett in Webster County, Missouri. She was born in Tennessee. [Photograph of Cyrus, Nancy, Jincie, Martha, Sallie and Fannie] The children of Cyrus Napier and Nancy K. Bennett Napier were:

          Ashford Napier, son, born May 8, 1859. He married Bertha Armstrong and had a large family. Their sons are George, Benjamin, Pinkney, Cyrus, Foster, and Robert. They have one daughter Rina. My uncle Ashford is still living on his farm in Webster County, Missouri, but is quite feeble.

          Jincie Napier (7), my mother. She was born March 2, 1862, and died January 12, 1938. She married Samuel Azariah Shelton, October 30, 1881.

          Michael Napier, son, born November 29, 1865. He married ____ Ellis. They have two sons: Hershel Napier and Dorris Napier, both married and have children.

          Columbus L. Napier, son, born September 6, 1867. He married Martha Sutherland. They have sons: George W., William Ashford, Charles and Odell, all married and have children. Also, they have daughters: Gladys, Freda, Opal and Bedie. [More]

          Martha Napier, daughter, born December 22, 1870. She married Samuel King. They have sons: Glenn and Hugh, both of whom have sons. Also they have daughters: Jewell (died) and Retha.

          Sallie Ann Napier, daughter, born January 10, 1873, and died April 8, 1902, unmarried.

          Fannie Isabella Napier, daughter, born December 20, 1874, and died December 27, 1897, unmarried.

War Record of Cyrus Napier (6): He enlisted as a private in the Union Army during the Civil War, November 12, 1864, in Company "I", 46th Missouri Infantry, at Springfield, Missouri. He was honorably discharged at Springfield, Missouri May 12, 1865. The Veterans Administration at Washington told me he never had filed a claim for a pension.

Jincie Napier (7) was born March 2, 1862, and died January 12, 1938. She married Samuel Azariah Shelton, October 30, 1881. Their children were:

          Ashford Mark Shelton, born July 18, 1883, died in infancy.

          Michael David Shelton, born December 18, 1884, died in infancy.

          Ada Belle Shelton, born February 24,1887, wife of John C. Ketcham, Hastings, Michigan. [JPC Note - Ada Belle Shelton was the mother of Mary Ketcham Kelly and the grandmother of Bethany Ann Kelly Culp.]

          Samuel Jones Shelton, born October 2, 1889, married Edith Case.

          Maude Shelton, born June 24, 1891, wife of E. S. Warden, Kansas City, Missouri.

          Frederick DeWitt Shelton (8), born September 11, 1894, married Charline McCanse, June 14, 1930, and now lives in Washington D. C.

          Ollie Ethel Shelton, born June 28, 1898, married George A. Childress, Marshfield, Missouri.

          Burleigh Dwight Shelton, born August 11, 1900, married Lois Frank, and now lives in Marshfield, Missouri.

Frederick DeWitt Shelton (8), born September 11, 1894, in Webster County, Missouri, and married Charline McCanse of Mount Vernon, Missouri, June 14, 1930. She is the daughter of Charles A. McCanse and Virginia Ann Hopper McCanse. The only child of Frederick DeWitt Shelton and Charline McCanse Shelton is a son, Napier Shelton (9), born December 2, 1931 in Washington D. C.

Other Napier Data

Miscellaneous Records

Written by Frederick DeWitt Shelton 1941

Records of Land Patents from the Crown issued in Virginia, and recorded in the State Land Office at Richmond, Virginia:

          Booth Napier, 497 acres. Page 420, Book No. 10, for years 1710 to 1719.

          John Napier, 300 acres. Page 177, Book No. 13, for years 1725 to 1730.

          Patrick Napier, 400 acres. Page 664, Book No. 26, for years 1747 to 1748.

          Booth Napier, 400 acres. Page 23, Book No. 27, for years 1748 to 1749.

          Booth Napier & c., 400 acres. Page 372, Book No. 28, for years 1748 to 1749.

          Rene Napier, 400 acres. Page 791, Book No. 34, for years 1756 to 1762.

          Robert Napier, 400 acres. Page 497, Book No. 38, for years 1768 to 1770.

                   (I assume this is not the Robert Napier who was my ancestor)

          Thomas Napier, 400 acres. Page 600, Book No 38, for years 1770 to 1771.

          Patrick Napier, 400 acres. Page 223, Book No. 41, for years 1772 to 1773.

          Richard Napier, 364 acres. Page 432, Book No. 41, for years 1772 to 1773.

(Original Land Grants patented to my own Napier ancestors are listed elsewhere in this memorandum.)

In Goochland County, Virginia, which once included what are now Albemarle and Fluvanna Counties, there are these records:

          Deed, to Booth Napier, from Jeffry Clarke. Date, February 3, 1756. Consideration, 30 pounds. 50 acres, adjacent to said Napier's "Mill Acre".

          Deed, from Booth Napier, to his daughter Elizabeth, deeding one negro girl and one bed and furniture. Witness was Rene Napier. Date, July 28, 1773.

          Deed, to Rene Napier from Pleasant Cocke. Date, October 15, 1776. Consideration, 35 pounds. 19 acres, beginning at the Notched Road, thence down said Road to Billings Fork, etc.

          Deed, to Booth Napier from Mary Gun. (Deed Book 3, page 545) Date, October 22, 1741. Booth Napier described as "of Goochland County." 200 acres, beginning on Ridge of Portmunkey on Atkins line..

          Deed, to Booth Napier, from Jeffry Clarke. Booth Napier described as "of Parrish of St. James Northam in Goochland County." Date March 7, 1752. Consideration 50 pounds. One acre (Mill site), on a branch called Horsepen Creek adjacent to Booth Napier's mill. Witness was Booth Napier, Junior.

          Deed, from Booth Napier to Thomas Randolph. Consideration, 15 pounds. 100 acres. Date, August 19, 1729.

          Deed, from Booth Napier to Thomas Randolph. Date August 19, 1729. 150 acres. Described as "being part of tract granted by patent to Booth Napier, July 11, 1719 (497 acres.)"

In Fluvanna County, Virginia, which formerly was part of Goochland County, I found these records, in the Court House at Palmyra:

          Deed, from Champion Napier and his wife Gracy to John Napier. Date appears to be 1770, but is hard to read.

          Deed, from Patrick Napier and Elizabeth his wife. Date 1792

          Will of Patrick Napier, of Fluvanna County. Date, March 9, 1808. In his will he left his estate to his wife Elizabeth, for life, and then to his four sons: Benjamin W. Napier, Richard C. Napier, John F. Napier and Joseph Fox Napier. Also to his married daughter. Certificate of probate was granted April 25, 1808. One interesting provision in the will was that his young son Joseph Fox Napier, was to be given a good general education, but no foreign languages.

          Marriages recorded in Fluvanna County are:

                   December 19, 1855. William H. Napier, age 49 of Albemarle County (widower) married Jane R. Mayo.

                   December 18, 1884. Izetta Napier, age 19, daughter of James M. and Frances Napier, married Lewis A. Glass (all of Fluvanna County)

                   March 4, 1879. Florence A. Napier, age 18, daughter of James M. and Frances Napier, married Stephen L. Tryall.

                   December 8, 1887. Emma J. Napier, age 18, daughter of James M. and Frances Napier, married John B. Hardin.

                   January 29, 1818. Moses C. Napier married Tabitha Carter.

Napiers in Fluvanna County now: I talked with a man in Palmyra who claims to know the county well, and he told me that there used to be lots of Napiers in Fluvanna County. He says there are still some left, but mostly are tenant farmers around Scottsville. He especially mentioned Miss Sally Napier, however, a school teacher, who, he said, was quite a remarkable lady. I inquired elsewhere about her but found no one who knows her. She would be quite elderly if still alive.

Comment on Fluvanna and Albemarle Counties: These counties are crossed by the magnificent Rivanna River, on which some of my Napier ancestors had farms. They are marked by rolling hills in the eastern part and in the western part by perfectly charming mountains of the Blue Ridge. Looking back, it appears that the lands Ashford Napier sold for 600 pounds would today be worth 6000 pounds. Rich men from New York and elsewhere are buying farms in these counties as sites on which they can get away from business strains and the New Deal. Frankly, I would not be sorry to have been born in Albemarle County, Va. (Charlottsville, county seat.) -- beautiful country.

In Henry County, Virginia (Martinsville county seat), I found the following records:

          Deed to Tarleton Napier. Date, 1819. 327 acres Consideration, $1500.

          Deed to Tarleton Napier. Date, 1827.

          Deed to Tarleton Napier. Date, 1832.

          Deed to Moses C. Napier. (two) Date, 1835.

          Deed to George W. Napier. Two deeds: One in 1845 and one in 1846.

          Deed to Thomas S. Napier. Date, 1849.

          Deed to Emily Napier. Date, 1855.

          Deed to Marshall Napier. Date, 1870. Also in 1883.

          Deed to George W. Napier. Date 1880. Also in 1881 and 1882.

          Deed to Abram C. Napier. Date 1887.

          Deed to John C. Napier. Date 1900. (John Champion Napier)

John Champion Napier, 220 Moss Street, Martinsville, Virginia: I went to see him. He is "about 70 years old". He was a bachelor until rather late in life and then married a widow (now dead) and has no children. His father was Thomas Napier. His father and mother were married in Patrick County, of which Stuart is the county seat. His grandfather was William Tarleton Napier, who married Susannah Smith. He lived in Henry County and probably is the Tarleton Napier whose deed is shown above. John Champion Napier is rather small in stature, dark eyes and complexion, and has the reputation of being a man of excellent character and intellect ... a carpenter by trade and member of the Baptist Church. He had an uncle George Napier, who went west and died in Kokomo, Indiana.

Ashford Napier, father of Ashford who was the father of Cyrus, went to Henry County after he sold his land in Albemarle /county, but I find no record of any land purchase by him in Henry County. It would appear that he only stayed a short while in Henry County. One story is that he and his brother David S. went on to North Carolina. It ought to be easy to locate him but I have not done so yet.

In Augusta County, Virginia, there is record of a declaration made by Alexander Logan, August 22, 1832, stating that he served in the War of the Revolution under Captain Richard Napper (Napier).

In both Fluvanna County and Henry County people insist on pronouncing Napier as "Napper". John Champion Napier told me that everybody called him Napper and so he finally got to calling himself that.

Also in Augusta County, there is record of William Napier attesting a promissory note, June 4, 1760. It is recorded in County Records, November 1764 (B). There is another record of William Napier in Augusta County, March 17, 1767.

Mrs. Juda Hill, of Martinsville, Va., wrote a book about early Henry County History which includes Napier data, but John Champion Napier says it is not strictly accurate.

Sarah M. Hyman, formerly of Colorado, Texas and now of San Antonio, Texas, is a descendant of William Napier and has done much work in tracing Napier history.

Stanford Lee Napier, Polkton, North Carolina: In 1935 I stopped at a gasoline station near Knoxville, Tennessee, and talked with the proprietor, Edmond H. Napier, who said he was from Rockingham, North Carolina, where many Napiers live. He said his brother Stanford Lee Napier, has much information on Napier family history. I wrote to him, but got no reply.

Magdaline Napier is a sister of Edmond and Stanford Lee Napier, and she lives in Washington and works in the U. S. Treasury Department.

J. Barnett Napier is Secretary of the Lions Clubs, International and lives in Chicago, Illinois. He has collected considerable Napier family data, but I never have come in contact with him.

George W. Napier, was Attorney General of the State of Georgia in 1931. I wrote to him, and he sent me the record of his Napier ancestors. I will include here his notes, since he is a descendant of the same Dr. Patrick Napier who was my ancestor. Patrick Napier's son Robert was my ancestor and another son, Booth, was George M. Napier's ancestor. Here is his line as he wrote it to me, December 23, 1931:

          Dr. Patrick Napier came over from Scotland in 1655. In 1658 he married Elizabeth Booth, daughter of Robert Booth. They had a large family of children, both sons and daughters. Their eldest son Robert Napier, my ancestor, married Mary Perrin. Booth Napier, second son of Patrick Napier, married Sarah, a daughter of Colonel Rene LaForce, a Huguenot. Patrick Napier, a son of Booth Napier, married Elizabeth Woodson. Rene Napier, son of Booth Napier and Sara LaForce Napier, had children, among whom was Rene Napier, who married, in 1785, Rebecca Hurt, a niece of the Welshman, Sir Meriwether Skelton. Rene and Rebecca Hurt Napier had children, one of whom was Thomas Napier, who married, in 1768, Tabitha Easter, had among their sons: Thomas Napier, Leroy Napier, and Skelton Napier. (These dates 1785 and 1758, do not make sense, but I am recording what George M. Napier wrote to me.) Leroy Napier married Mathilda Louise Moultrie, a great-niece of General William Moultrie, and among their sons was Nathan C. Napier, who was the father of George M. Napier of Georgia.

George M. Napier says of Rene Napier that he was a Revolutionary soldier "according to the records of the D.A.R.", and was granted land for his services. He was born in Goochland County, Virginia, and died in Elbert County, Georgia.

"Heads of Families" in Virginia, 1790 Census. These are shown:

          Champion Napier, Page 19. 5 white. 3 black. Fluvanna County.

          Champion Napier, Page 81. 5 white souls. 2 dwellings, Albemarle County.

          John Napier. Page 19. 7 white. 5 black. Fluvanna County.

          Patrick Napier. Page 19. 5 white. 8 black. Fluvanna County.

          Rene Napier. Page 19. 1 white. 3 black. Fluvanna County.

          Richard Napier. Page 19. 9 white. 22 black. Fluvanna County.

          Thomas Napier. Page 19. 8 white. 24 black. Fluvanna County.

"Heads of Families" in North Carolina, 1790 Census, shows no Napiers in North Carolina in 1790 as heads of families.

Mrs. Annie Napier Collins, of San Antonio, Texas, daughter of Terry Colquit Napier, who was born in Georgia in 1848, grand-daughter of Caleb Napier who was born in 1808 and lived and died in Georgia.

There was a James Napier, who with a son Caleb Napier came into Warren County, Georgia, just after the Revolutionary War and received a "head right" of land each. (This from Mrs. Annie Napier Collins.)

Miss Jean Stephenson, Conard Apartments, Washington D. C. probably is the foremost authority on Napier ancestral history. She is a professional genealogist, active in genealogical research for the Daughters of the American Revolution. And she happens to be a great-great-granddaughter of John Meredith Napier, who was a cousin of Ashford Napier, my great grandfather. She has much Napier data, and plans to give me a digest of what she has.

Virginia State Historical Society, Richmond, Virginia has the papers and files of Ben C. Ancell, who was a Napier kinsman and who spent much time gathering data on the family history. I have not seen his papers but plan to do so.

Origin of the name of Napier: An appealing story is that in the ancient days of Scotland a King said to a brave soldier, "Thou hasn't Na' Peer", and that the name Napier was thus given. But Miss Stephenson, who has investigated in England, says that the Napiers got their name originally because they were in charge of the napery of the King, and, therefore were called Napiers. She says the early Napiers were a "border" family, living in the area near the boundary between England and Scotland.

The family of Napier from early times has been prominent in the history of Scotland and England. One of them was a British Ambassador to the United States many years ago. The Barony of Napier was created by King James I in favor of Sir Archibold Napier, who accompanied King James of England, and the eighth lord of the Napier line was the famous naval officer who figured in the battle of Trafalgar.

(Written by Frederick DeWitt Shelton.

4411 Hadfield Lane, N. W.

Washington D. C.

Circa 1941)

Napier Family History

Written by Frederick DeWitt Napier

Addendum Written by John Paul Culp

December 1993

The Napier Family History states that Nancy Dorris was a widow, a Mrs. Eckols, with children (3 or 4 or 5) when Ashford Napier (5) married her while living in Kentucky. Based on a sheet of paper in the file of Mary Shelton Ketcham, appearing to be notes copied from a family bible, with "Bible bought in 1835 in Missouri" and "High Prairie, Mo., August 12, 1911" written at the top, it seems that Nancy Dorris had four children by a previous marriage. Listed as "Cyrus Napier's Mothers first children" are:

          Abner Eckols born Feb. 4, 1817

          William Eckols born May 16, 1819

          Evelina Eckols, born May 18, 1821

          Polly Ann Eckols, born July 3, 1822

In total, Nancy Dorris had 12 children in approximately 19 1/2 years, among them was Cyrus Napier, Mary Shelton Ketcham Kelly's great grandfather.

There is a discrepency between the Napier Family History and the Bible notes regarding the children of Ashford Napier (5) and his first wife. William DeWitt Shelton writes in the Napier Family History that the birthdates are taken from an old family Bible, which he has, and that "the writing is dim" and "some of the names and dates can not be clearly read". It seems probable that the information comes from the same Bible and that a mistake was made in the Napier Family History.


Napier Family History Birthdates

Handwritten Bible Notes, August 12, 1911

Nancy(?) W. Napier

June 8, 1806

June 8, 1806

Juda F. Napier

March 24, 1809

March 24, 1809

C____ D. Napier

March 31, 1811

March 31, 1811

William S. Napier

February 3, 1815

March 27, 1813

Stacy C. Napier

May 28, 1816

February 3, 1815

George F. Napier

Not listed

May 28, 1816

Elijah and Elisha Napier

February 8, (?), 1819

February 8, (?), 1819

John ____ Napier

July (?) 28, 1821

July (?) 28, 1821

George F. Napier was not listed in the Napier Family History. His birthdate was mistakenly assigned to Stacy C. Napier and Stacy C. Napier's birthdate was mistakenly assigned to William S. Napier. All other dates are consistent.

Note dated Feb. 20, 1952, handwritten Mar. 1952 (Probably by Belle Ketcham), on stationary of John C. Ketcham, Commissioner, State of Michigan, in file of Mary Ketcham Kelly:

Some Napier notes Fred got from Lt. John Hawkins Napier III, 28 years old, native of Miss., who came into Army through ROTC at "Ole Miss". Descendant of John Staples Napier, brother of our great-grandfather Ashford Napier, buried at or near Mountain Home, Ark. Descendants of Dr. Patrick Napier (1610-69) who settled in York-Gloucester County, Va., 1653, son of Robert Napier of Edinburgh, son of Sir John Napier of Merchiston who married Lady Elizabeth Monteith. Sir John, eighth laird of Merchistan (note: spelled 'tan' this time) was born 1550, eldest son of Sir Archibald Napier and Janet Bothwell. At the age of 13, John went to St. Andrews, his name appearing in the books of the college of St. Salvator for the session Oct1, 1563- to July 1564. (Full account of him as inventor of logarithms in Enc. Brittanica.) "....Worn out by overwork and gout, he breathed his last on Apr. 4, 1617 and was buried outside the west part of Edinburgh in the Church of St. Cuthbert, the parish in which Merchiston is situated."

Robert Napier VLLL(sic?) was the eldest son of Sir John by his second wife, Agnes Chisholm. Was born in 1580. Edited his father's works. Robert was married a second time to Anna, daughter of Sir William Drummond, third baronet of Riccartoun, and had; William, Alexander, Marie, Anna, Jean, and Patrick. Robert died in 1655.

"During the reign of the 13th century king of Scotland the King's men were on the verge of losing a large and bitterly-contested battle..."

"At that time the second of the ancient Earls of Lenox had three sons: The eldest ----who succeeded him, Donald, the second and Gilchrist..."

"In the rage of battle the claymores (swords) of the men of Clan Lenox rose and fell at the front. However, the line broke, the King's warriors were forced back, with the enemy pouring through the gap."

"At this point Donald of Lenox seized a standard, rallied the retreating soldiery, and the field was held. This act of prowess turned the tide and won the day for the king."

"After the battle while singling out his stalwarts for praise the King said of Donald, "Ye have all done valiantly this day, but there is one amongst ye who hath nae peer(No equal).' He commanded Donald to take the surname of Na-Peer, giving him the lands of Fife and Goffurd(Goos?ord)".

"This story certified to the College of Heralds under the seal of Sir Archibald Napier, first Baron of Merchistan, in 1625..."

"It is proper to remark that the Napiers sprang from the House of Lenox, and earlier members signed their names Napier alias Lenox."     


(Note: This summary was written by Frederick DeWitt Shelton in 1941, provided to Belle Shelton Ketcham, then to Mary Ketcham Kelly, then to John Paul Culp, who retyped this file from an original copy. Some minor changes, primarily in formatting have been made to make the manuscript more readable.)