Sir John Napier, 8th Lord of Merchiston

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Sir John Napier, 8th Lord of Merchiston's Geni Profile

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John Napier

Birthdate: (67)
Birthplace: Merchiston Castle, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Death: April 3, 1617 (63-71)
Merchiston Castle, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Archibald Napier, 7th Laird of Merchiston and Janet Bothwell
Husband of Elizabeth Sterling, Lady of Merchistoun and Anne Chisholm
Father of Archibald Napier, Lord Napier of Merchiston; Baronet Robert Mungo Napier of Boquhopple and Drumhony; Adame Naper; Elizabeth Napier; William Napier of Ardmore and 2 others
Brother of Janet Napier and Francis Napier
Half brother of Susannah Napier; Abellina Napier; Archibald Napier of Woolmet; Walter Napier of Woolmet; Helen Napier and 4 others

Occupation: Mathematician, Inventor of Logarithms, 8th Lord of Merchiston
Managed by: Oliver Marcus Stedall
Last Updated:

About Sir John Napier, 8th Lord of Merchiston


Evidence from the National Records of Scotland

17 March 1620: Charter by which James Hamilton of Kilbrachmont confirms that he has given the lands of Kilbrachmont to his son and heir George Hamilton and George's wife Jean Napier. In the marriage contract Jean Napier is identified as the second lawful daughter of the deceased John Napier of Merchiston and his wife Anne Chisholm: "Jeannam Napeir filiam legitmam secundogentiam quondam Joannis N. de Merchistoun inter cum et Annam Chisholme ejus sponsam procreatum." charter number 634 on p. 220

Genealogical Account

Sir James Balfour Paul, Lord Lyon King of Arms, The Scots Peerage, etc., Volume VI, pp. 402-39 for Napier, Lord Napier of Merchiston

Biographical Accounts

  1. The Scots Peerage, VI, pp. 417-21 for John Napier of Merchiston
  2. Wikipedia: John Napier

Extract from the Scots Peerage

John Napier of Merchiston, the renowed inventor of logarithms, eldest son of the foregoing, was born at Merchiston Castle in 1550, and entered as student at the University of Saint Andrews 1563, though it is probable that he did not complete his academic career at that city. After spending some time on the continent of Europe he settled, about the year 1574, at Gartnes, co. Stirling, where for many years he devoted himself to the study of pure mathematics and the Holy Scriptures ; it is probably a mistake to connect him in any special degree with Merchiston, excepting during the last eight years of his life. His Plain Discovery of the whole Revelation of St. John, which appeared in 1593, and was dedicated to King James vi., largely influenced the Protestant movement in Europe, passing through several editions in English, Dutch, French, and German. Of his minor works mention may be made of De Arte Logistica, which deals with the sciences of Algebra and Arithmetic, but was not published until long after his death. His skill and ingenuity found expression also in various contrivances for the improvement of agriculture and the invention of new and powerful engines of warfare, though the last he refused to divulge. His claim to undying fame rests, however, upon his sublime discovery of the correspondence between arithmetical and geometrical progression, and the logarithmic canon, which after years of intense study he founded upon it. From a letter addressed to Tycho Brahe in the year 1594, it appears that Napier had already at that time discovered the abstract law, but the practical application of it to the construction of those tables which have revolutionised the whole method of calculating, and have rendered possible the modern sciences of Astronomy and Navigation, was the work of something like twenty years. He himself says that it 'ought to have been accomplished by the labour and assistance of many computers, but had been completed by the strength and industry of himself alone.' In the year 1614 he submitted to the learned world his Description of the marvellous Canon of Logarithms, which was dedicated to Charles, Prince of Wales, afterwards Charles I.

John Napier

Biographical Summaries of Notable People

  • Birth: 1550 - Merchiston Tower
  • Death: Apr 4 1617 - Edinburgh
  • Residences: Scotland, Edinburgh


  • Birth: 1550 - Merchiston Tower, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Death: Apr 4 1617
  • Father: Sir Archibald Napier
view all 13

Sir John Napier, 8th Lord of Merchiston's Timeline

Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Age 26
Age 30
Midlothian, Scotland, United Kingdom
Age 35
Midlothian, Scotland, United Kingdom
October 13, 1608
Age 58
Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
April 3, 1617
Age 67
Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland