NAPPER (NAPIER), Gerard (1606-1673), of Middlemarsh Grange, Minterne Magna, Dorset

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1640 (Nov.) - 22 Jan. 1644

Family and Education

bap. 19 Oct. 1606, 1st s. of Sir Nathaniel Napper* and Elizabeth, da. and h. of John Gerard of Longhyde, Steeple, Dorset.1 educ. travelled abroad 1626;2 M. Temple 1627.3 m. 7 Jan. 1633, Margaret (d.1660), da. and coh. of John Colles of Barton Grange, Pitminster, Som., 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 2da. d.v.p.4 suc. fa. 1635;5 cr. bt. 25 June 1641;6 kntd. 29 June 1641.7 d. 14 May 1673.8

Offices Held

Freeman, Poole, Dorset 1627,9 Weymouth, Dorset 1640,10 Lyme Regis, Dorset 1662;11 j.p. Dorset 1636-?44, 1660-d.,12 col. militia ft. 1636-40,13 commr. oyer and terminer, Western circ. 1638-42,14 sewers, Dorset 1638, piracy 1639, 1642,15 dep. lt. by 1640, 1660-d.,16 assessment 1641-2, 1652, 1661-6, 1672-d.,17 array 1642,18 contributions 1643, rebels’ estates 1643;19 kpr., Cranborne Chase, Dorset to 1644;20 sheriff, Dorset 1650-1,21 commr. drowned lands 1662,22 corporations 1662-3.23


Napper was licensed in 1626 to travel for three years, but can have been abroad for only a few months, for in November of the following year he was admitted to the Middle Temple. He evidently enjoyed neither experience, leaving instructions in his will that his grandsons should not be educated beyond the seas, ‘and not much in London’.24 Not long into his legal studies, he succeeded his father as Member for Wareham, but played a very minor role in the third Caroline Parliament, being named only to a committee for a naturalization bill (7 May 1628).25

According to the 1st earl of Shaftesbury (Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper†), Napper was ‘a good housekeeper, well-versed in all his country business’, but otherwise of limited ability, ‘and of a temper inclined to envy ... and to speak as ill as he could of the absent’.26 In May 1640 he was arrested and brought before the Privy Council for protesting at the removal of militiamen from Dorset to serve in the Second Bishops’ War.27 Returned for Weymouth to the Long Parliament, Napper sided with the king in the Civil War, and took his seat in the Oxford Parliament in 1644.28 Systematic plunder and delinquency fines failed to check the expansion of his estate, and his rental income rose by two-thirds between 1640 and 1653, latterly standing at over £2,000 p.a.29 Napper drew up his will on 12 Nov. 1667, in which he acknowledged ‘from the bottom of my heart my sins and unrighteousness’. He died on 14 May 1673, and was buried with his ancestors at Minterne Magna. His son Nathaniel, the second baronet, who by contrast was a great traveller, sat for various Dorset boroughs in nine Parliaments between 1679 and 1705.30

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Hutchins, Dorset, i. 611; iii. 125.
  • 2. APC, 1625-6, p. 477.
  • 3. M. Temple Admiss.
  • 4. William Whiteway of Dorchester</