This famous name, with variant spellings, Naper and Napper, derives from the Old French "nap(p)ier", from "nappe", a table cloth, plus the agent suffix "ier", and was originally given as an occupational name to a person in charge of the table linen in use in a manor house. One William de Hastings, who held the manor of Ashele in Norfolk during the reign of Henry 1, (1100 - 1135), was an officer attached to the royal court. he had charge of the napery, i.e. tablecloths and linen used at the coronation of the English kings.A Scottish 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 several distinguished bearers of the name including Sir Alexander Napier (deceased 1473), controller of the household of the Queen mother, Joan Beaufort, 1449 - 1461, and Scottish ambassador to England, 1451 - 1461. John Napier, (1550 - 1617), the inventor of logarithms, and Sir Charles James Napier conqueror of Sind (India), who was congratulated by Wellington and made G.C.B., in 1843, in recognition of his services. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Peter Napier which was dated 1148, in the "Winton Rolls of Hampshire", during the reign of King Stephen, known as "Count of Blois", 1135 - 1154. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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