NAPIER, Sir Robert (1602-1661), of Woolbridge, Dorset and Luton Hoo, Beds

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



4 Feb. 1641

Family and Education

b. 10 Aug. 1602,2 1st s. of Sir Robert Napier alias Sandy, 1st bt., of Luton Hoo, and his 3rd w. Mary, da. of John Robinson, merchant, of London.3 educ. Exeter Coll. Oxf. 1619; G. Inn 1620.4 m. (1) 30 Apr. 1623,5 Frances (d. by 5 Apr. 1626), da. of Sir William Thornhurst of Agnes Court, Old Romney, Kent, 1s. d.v.p. 1da.;6 (2) c.1633, Penelope (bur. 16 July 1658), da. of John Egerton†, 1st earl of Bridgewater, 2s.7 kntd. 30 Apr. 1623;8 suc. fa. as 2nd bt. 15 Apr. 1637.9 bur. 7 Mar. 1661.10

Offices Held

J.p. Yorks. (N. and E. Ridings), 1633-at least 1640, 1660-d., Beds. 1635-7, 1660-d.;11 commr. assessment, Beds. 1641-2,12 array, Beds. and Yorks. 1642,13 militia 1660-d.;14 dep. lt. Beds. 1660-d.15


Napier was descended from a junior branch of the Scottish Napiers, lairds of Merchistoun. His father made his fortune as a London merchant, acquiring both a baronetcy and the Luton Hoo estate in 1611, while his uncle Richard achieved fame as a physician and astrologer.16 Through his Scottish relatives, Napier was distantly related to the illustrious dukes of Lennox, cousins of the Stuart monarchs, and in 1623 he married a niece of the duchess. This advantageous union was solemnized by lord keeper Williams in the king’s chamber at Whitehall Palace, and it was incorrectly reported at the time that Napier was ‘presently to be made a viscount of Scotland or Ireland’.17 Following his marriage, Napier apparently settled at Woolbridge, Dorset, the home of his bride’s stepfather, John Turberville.18

In 1626 Napier was elected to represent Corfe Castle in the second Caroline Parliament, probably on the nomination of a local landowner, his kinsman Sir Nathaniel Napper*.19 However, on 5 Apr. he was excused from attending the Commons on the grounds of his wife’s recent death, and may never have taken his seat.20 At the next parliamentary election, he was returned for Weymouth, following in the footsteps of his brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Myddelton II.21 Somewhat surprisingly, given his inexperience, he was named on 20 Mar. 1628 to the prestigious committee for privileges, but he made no recorded speeches, and attracted just one further appointment, to consider a bill against the corrupt acquisition of judicial offices (23 Jan. 1629).22

In the following decade, Napier reaffirmed his social credentials by marrying a daughter of the earl of Bridgewater. He represented Peterborough in the Long Parliament, but his membership was suspended for much of the Civil War period due to his wavering allegiance, and was finally terminated by Pride’s Purge.23 He drew up his will in January 1661, and was buried at Luton barely a month later. His son Sir John was returned for Bedfordshire in 1664.24

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Secluded at Pride’s Purge, 6 Dec. 1648. Readmitted 21 Feb. 1660.
  • 2. Sloane 1708, f. 118.
  • 3. Vis. Beds. (Harl. Soc. xix), 184-5; C142/560/161.
  • 4. Al. Ox.; GI Admiss.
  • 5. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 495.
  • 6. Vis. Beds. 185; Procs. 1626, ii. 431.
  • 7. CB, i. 80.
  • 8. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 181.
  • 9. C142/560/161.
  • 10. CB, i. 80.
  • 11. C231/5, ff. 112, 165, 233; C66/2858; Perfect List of ... JPs (1660), pp. 1, 63-4.
  • 12. SR, v. 60, 81, 148.
  • 13. Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 14. A. and O. ii. 1426, 1446; Perfect List, 1, 63-4.
  • 15. SP29/11/146.
  • 16. CB, i. 80; VCH Beds. ii. 353; Oxford DNB sub Richard Napier.
  • 17. Burke Commoners, ii. 639-41; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 495.
  • 18. W.H. Black, Cat. Ashmolean Mss, 231; J. Duncombe, Reculver and Herne, 104; Vis. Dorset (Harl. Soc. cxvii), 67.
  • 19. Burke Commoners, ii. 639-41.
  • 20. Procs. 1626, ii. 431.
  • 21. Vis. Beds. 184.
  • 22. CD 1628, ii. 29; CJ, i. 922a.
  • 23. Keeler, Long Parl. 284; CCAM, 1260; CJ, v. 590a.
  • 24. PROB 11/304, f. 48v; CB, i. 80; HP Commons, 1660-90, iii. 126-7.