This famous and noble surname much associated with the British Empire, and with variant spellings Naper and Napper, is Anglo-Scottish, but of pre 10th century Olde French origins. Probably introduced into the British Isles at time of the Norman Conquest of 1066 or shortly thereafter, it derives from the word 'nappier', which literally means linen, but was used in an occupational sense as 'napperer' to describe the official at a royal court or a noble's castle, one who was in charge of the banquetting. Such positions were highly sought after, and often lead to the creation of noble families in their own right. An example being the Stewards of Scotland. They later became the royal family of Stuart who ruled Scotland and England for several centuries. The Scottish Napier family, who once held the earldom of Lennox, are descended from the hereditary naperers to the kings of Scotland in the 12th Century. There have been many distinguished bearers of the name. These include Sir Alexander Napier, the controller of the household of the Queen mother, 1449 - 1461, and who was also Scottish ambassador to England, 1451 - 1461. John Napier, (1550 - 1617), was the inventor of logarithms, and General Sir Charles James Napier, was the general of cavalry under the Duke of Wellington in the Napoleonic Wars (1792 - 1815). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Peter Napier. This was dated 1148, in the Winton Rolls of Hampshire, during the reign of King Stephen of England, 1135 - 1154. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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