Motto: Sans tache (Without stain)

According to the tradition preserved in the family, the surname Napier comes from an early battle between Scots and the Danes, where a son of the Earls of Lennox turned the tide in a hopeless battle, and thus having the name ‘Napier’ (nae peer – that is no equal) conferred on him.  There is an Oinus Naparius (Oinus of the Napery) during King Stephen’s reign (1140) and similar in the reigns of Henry II and III.  There is no evidence to connect these early English or Norman ‘Napers’ with the Scottish Napers of the 13th century.  

The earliest mention of the name in Scotland is in a charter of Malcolm, Earl of Lennox, of 1280, when a John de Napier had considerable estates in Dunbartonshire.  He is also witness to another charter of the same Earl in 1294.  

Johan le Naper del Counte de Dunbretan, and Mathew de Aghelek, swore homage to Edward I in 1296, as most barons were compelled to do.  In 1303, when Edward I besieged Stirling Castle, John de Napier was one of the Scots leaders assisting Sir William Oliphant in its defence, and he on its capitulation, was fined severely for his attachment to the Castle in 1401.  

His son Alexander Napier was provost of Edinburgh in 1437, and was the first to acquire the lands and Castle of Merchiston, which have ever since remained in possession of the family.   His son, Alexander, was Comptroller to King James II, and his great grandson, of the same name, fell at the battle of Flodden 1513 and his son, again of the same name, was slain at Pinkie in 1547.  They supported the cause of Charles I and were imprisoned as a result.  

There are several other branches of the name scattered throughout Scotland, such as the Napiers of Kilmahaw (the oldest family), Wrightehouse (extinct), Culcrouch, Balliechearve, Ballikinrain, Bowquaple, Harvieston, Taycock, Fallside and Balmanno.