The Descendants of William Napier c1740-1814 (NAPIER/NAPPER)

(Compiled by Emma-Jo Levey Davis 1995)

The Nappers of Nelson and Bullitt Counties, Kentucky, descend from the William Napier who first appeared in 1760 when he witnessed an agreement in Augusta County, Virginia (Lyman Chalkley, Chronicles of Scotch-Irish Settlement of Virginia, vol. I, p. 454, hereinafter Chalkley).

There is a large family of Napiers descending from Patrick Napier who settled in Gloucester. County, Virginia, in the 17th century. However, this William Napier has not been placed in that family, and it seems likely he was part of the Scotch-Irish contingent that settled in the Borden Patent at the Forks of the James in the 1740s. These settlers had been recruited from Maryland and Pennsylvania.

In 1764 a 40-acre tract was surveyed for William Napier on House Mountain, which abutted the Borden Patent in the Fork of the James River (Peter Cline Kaylor, Abstract of Land Grant Surveys 1761-1790, Rockingham Historical Society, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 1938, p. 18, taken from surveys made for original land patents in Augusta County). This area was then in Augusta County; when Botetourt County was formed in 1770, it included House Mountain. With the establishment of Rockbridge County in 1778, House Mountain became part of that county.

While a man could-be witness and could own land before he was 21 years old, these acts usually indicated maturity, so it seems likely that William Napier was born about 1740-1745.

He served in Captain John Dickenson's Ranging Company during the French and Indian War and on 5 August 1779 the Rockbridge County Court authorized a grant of 50 acres of land for this service (Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck, Virginials Colonial Soldiers, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1988, p. 263). This entry in the Rockbridge County Order Book led to the error in DAR application #30529 in 1928 in which William Napier was mistakenly credited with service in the Revolutionary War. Officially, the French and Indian War covered the period 1754-1764. While there is no date provided for William Napier's service, it was probably was toward the end of the war.

There was a John Napier of August County, Virginia, who conveyed his right to a parcel of land in Botetourt County in August 1776 (Chalkley, vol. I, p. 378). He moved to Kentucky where he had Revolutionary War service as a 'spy' and died in Fayette County, Kentucky, in 1818. He was a contemporary of William Napier, and it is probable, but not proven, that he was a relative, perhaps a brother.

By 1782 William Napier was in Washington County, Virginia, and in Lincoln County, Kentucky, by 1785, apparently travelling the "Wilderness Road" into Kentucky. He first appeared in Nelson County, Kentucky, on the 1787 tax list. He lived in Nelson County until his death in 1814.

William consistently signed his name as "Napier" and his will was also signed as "Napier." However, all of his children and their descendants are known as "Nappers."

The first mention of his wife, Eleanor, is in 1785. The DAR application mentioned above stated she was Eleanor Wells, daughter of Dr. Mahan Wells of Tazewell County, Virginia. However, this cannot be verified. After William's death she married Richard Low on 2 March 1815 in Nelson County. They disappeared from the tax lists in 1819, but whether they moved or died then has not been determined.

There is a marker for William in the Old Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Nelson County. It reads: 'William Nappier, Pvt. Dickinson's Ranging Company Rev War 1814." It is obvious from its appearance that this marker was erected in the 20th century.

A chronology of his appearance in the records follows:

On 4 June 1760, William Napier and Alexander Milber (Millen) witnessed an agreement in which Alexander Liggetes and Samuel Steel promised to pay James Gilmore, etc. The agreement was entered in the Augusta County Court in November 1764 (Chalkley, vol. I, pp. 454-455).

1763 Served in CPT John Dickenson's Ranging Company during the French and Indian War in the "Forks of the James" area which was then part of Augusta County. It is not known when William Nappier served, but on 5 Au'g 1779 in Rockbridge County William Nappier and Moses Collier each received 50 acres for this service (Bockstruck). This entry led to the error in the DAR application in 1928 in which William Nappier was mistakenly credited with Revolutionary War services instead of that in the French and Indian War (DAR #30529).

On 11 December 1764 a 40-acre tract was surveyed for William Naper on House Mountain in the Fork of the James River (Kaylor, p. 18).

William Naper was paid by William Gilmore, administrator of William Culbert's estate on 21 October 1765 in Augusta County (Chalkley, vol. II, p. 93).

1767 Wm. Naper participated in the sale of Francis McCown's estate 17 March 1767, Augusta County (Chalkley, vol. III, p. 97).

1768 Wm. Naper witnessed will of James Robinson on 7 April in Augusta County. Other witnesses were Samuel Moore and James Welsh. The will was proved 15 Nov 1768 by Moore and Welsh (Chalkley, vol. III, p. 105).

1771 William Napier listed with one tithable in Botetourt County, 'north side of Buffalo Creek to County line.' This included House Mountain. (Botetourt had been formed in 1770 from Augusta.) (VA Genealogist, vol. 10, p.177). 1779 Entry in the Rockbridge County order Book 5 Aug 1779 for service in the French and Indian War as explained above.

1782 William Napier paid tax on 200 acres of land in,Washington County, VA (Tax List, Virginia State Library). (Can find no record of his selling the 40 acres in Rockbridge, nor of his buying and selling the 200 acres in Washington.)

1783 In a suit against Thomas Bates in Washington County, William Napier was awarded 4 pounds 7 shillings, 'the amount specified' 19 Nov.1783 (Washington County Order Book 1, P. 236).

16 Feb 1785 - William Napier vs. Robert Bailey, Lincoln County, KY. Neither party appearing, suit dismissed. (Michael L. Cook, Lincoln County, KY, Records, vol. II, p. 135).

22 June 1785 - Ephraim Churchill (Churchwell) married Anne Napper in Washington, VA, John Frost officiating (Beverly Fleet, VA Colonial Abstracts, vol. II, p. 9).

23 June 1785 - John Breedon married Elizabeth Napier in Washington County, VA, Samuel Cockrell officiating. (Ibid, p. 10).

6 Jul 1785 - John Breeding married Elizabeth Napier, John Frost officiating. (Ibid, p. 16).

20 Jul 1785 - James Peyton ordered to pay William Napier 100 pounds of tobacco for four days attendance, Eleanor Napier 150 pounds of tobacco for six days attendance, etc., Lincoln County, KY. (Cook, p. 165).

23 Feb 1785 - William Napier and Eleanor Napier his wife, vs. William Thompson and Jane Thompson his wife on trespass, assault and battery. Ordered discontinued. Lincoln County, KY. (ibid, p. 207).

24 Mar 1787 - Peter Tardiveau, vs. William Napier, upon an attachment. The Sheriff returned that he had executed upon a garnishee, Nathan Huston, and the garnishee appeared and confessed that he owed the defendant I pound, 8 shillings, 9 pence. Defendant did not appear. Plaintiff to recover 1 pound, 10 shillings, 11 pence and costs. The money in the hands of the garnishee is condemned towards satisfying the judgment. (Ibid, p. 261).

May 1787 - on the petition of Andrew McKinley against Wil. Napier. Judgment is awarded the petitioner for 2 pounds, 14 shillings with interest from the lst of June 1786 and costs. (Minute Book A, Nelson County, KY). July Wm. Napper, Nelson County, KY, tax list.

23 Nov 1787 - Silvester Munrony, vs. William Napier, in case. Discontinued and by consent defendant to pay plaintiff's costs. Munrony to pay Alexander Thompson 150 pounds of tobacco for six days attendance as a witness for him. (Cook, p. 294).

15 Jan 1788 - David Gleastin, assignee of Paul Huff who was.assigned of David Gleastin vs. Silvester Munrony and William Napier, on petition, Judgment to plaintiff against Munrony for 2 pounds 10 shillings and costs. Abates as to Napier, he not being punishment'inhabitant of the County. (Cook, p. 299).

24 Oct 1789 - Petition signed by William Nappier, Senr, William Nappier, Juner (sic) and Richard Nappier in Nelson County, KY. (if one had to be 21 in order to sign a legislative petition, then both sons were born 1768 or earlier.)

10 Jan 1792 - Wm. Napper, Jr. married Nancy Holzclau, daughter of James. Nelson County, KY.

9 Jun 1792 - Bond of Richard Churchwell to marry Nancy Napper with Charles Boyd as surety in Lincoln County, KY. Consent of William Napper, witnessed by Charles Boyd and Ephraim Churchwell (Cook, Lincoln Co. KY Records, vol. I, p. 34). (Note: This is the Ephraim Churchwell who married Anne Napier in Washington County, VA in 1785. He and his brother Richard were sons of Richard Churchwell, Sr.) (In 1792, Lincoln was a very large county and bordered upon Nelson where William Napier was then living.)

2 Feb 1793 - William Napier, Sr. bought 150 acres on Cox's Creek, Nelson County from Samuel and Nancy Osburn. Witnesses: James Cox, James Holsclau, Moses Gill.

7 Aug 1794 - William Napier, Sr. bought 100 acres on a branch of Wilson's Creek in Nelson County from Samuel and Mary Pearman.

24 Feb 1812 - Napier vs. Berryman. Signature: William Napier

23 Oct 1813 - Will drawn. Witnessed by Joshua Brown and Marshall Brown

18 Apr 1814 - Will probated in Nelson County.

"I William Napier of Nelson County in the State of Kentucky being very weak in body but of perfect mind and memory do make and ordain this my last will and testament as it pleases God to bless me with a little substance of the things of this world. I give and bequeath in the following manner: First, I require my body to be buried in a decent Christian like manner. I desire that all my debts be lawfully paid. 2d I give and bequeath to my son Richard ten dollars 3d I give and bequeath to my daughter Margaret. Anderson Ten dollars 4th Nancy Churchell my daughter I also give and bequeath Ten dollars 5th I give and bequeath to my son William Ten dollars -- 6th I give and bequeath to my wife Neley all my estate real and personal the above legatees excepted. I give and bequeath to my grand son\William Naper thirty dollars son of R. Napier It is my will that my son William if he returns from the army to have all my estate real and personal at the decease of his mother, the above legatees excepted. If he never returns it is my Will that all my estate real and personal be divided equal among the above named legatees at the decease of my wife Neley. I do appoint Joshua Brown executor of my last will and testament and do revoke all other wills by me heretofore made in witness whereof I hereunto set my hand and seal this 23rd day of October 1813.

William Napier

Joshua Brown
Marshall Brown

At a County Court held for Nelson County on Monday the 18th day of April 1814 the last will and testament of William Napier deceased was proved by the oaths of Joshua Brown and Marshall Brown, the subscribing witnesses there to and ordered to be recorded and on the motion of William Chinnowith administrator with the will annexed of the estate of William Napier deceased is guaranteed him whereup the said William with John Goodlet his security entered into bond in the penalty of $500 conditioned according to Law and the oath of administrator being duly administered to him the said William."