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Somerset & Dorset Notes & Queries Vol 27 p277 (Copy in Yeovil library)





Not all readers of S. & D. N. & Q. may have seen the two interesting articles by Mr. Arthur Oswald on the history and architecture of Tintinhull, which appeared in Country Life, April 12 and 19, 1956. In connection with his articles Mr. Oswald compiled a pedigree of the Napper family of Tintinhull, which corrects and amplifies that in Brown's Somerset Wills, iii, 99 and in Burke's Landed Gentry, 1952, under Napier of East Pennard 1. Mr. Oswald gave a copy of this pedigree to the late Mr. H. S. Howard of Tintinhull Court, and he and Mr. Oswald kindly gave the present writer permission to reproduce it for S. & D. N. & Q. Some further details have been added concerning Edward Napper, who seems to have been responsible for introducing the family to Somerset, though he himself was born in Dorset and his descendants settled at Holywell near Oxford. (Visit. Oxon. Harl. Soc. viii.) The Napper family owned three of the beautiful Ham Stone houses in Tintinhull ; the Parsonage, now known as Tintinhull Court, the Dower House and Tintinhull House, formerly known as the Mansion, Pitt's Farm, and possibly at a still earlier date, as 'Brown's Tenement' 2, but their earliest residence was at the Parsonage, and they were, as their monuments in the church record with great regularity, "the owners of the impropriation."

License to appropriate the rectory had been granted to the mediaeval owners, the Prior and Convent of Montacute, in 1529. Mr. Oswald states that Sir William Petre in 1544 was granted a twenty-one years' lease of the Parsonage of Tintinhull, which in March, 1546 he assigned to Edward Napper of Oxford.

Napper, who was at All Souls College at the same time as Petre, and became a fellow in 1527, was the eldest of the four sons of James or John Napper "who is believed to have been a younger son of Alexander Napier of Merchiston" in Scotland, and to have settled in Dorset in the reign of Henry VII.

1 The change from Napper to Napier was made at Tintinhull in the eighteenth century, but not apparently by all members of the family at once. .
2 It was a Thomas Browne who bought the" old Church Bible" from the Churchwardens at Tintinhull in 1615. Another Thomas Browne of Tintinhull occurs early in the fifteenth century, S.A.S. xxxii(2) 65, 76. Other Brownes occur in the Tintinhull Churchwarden's Accounts printed in Som. Record. Soc. iv.


Edward Napper died in 1558, leaving to his son William, the manor of Swyre, which he had purchased in 1546, and to his brothers, John and Nicholas, "and the longer lyver of them," his lease of the parsonage of Tintinhull. In 1560 Nicholas Napper purchased the lease outright. He was buried in the chancel of Tintinhull church, as his brass there records, on Sept. 28, 1579, and his descendants resided at the Parsonage, and were buried under the chancel, for many generations.

That the pedigree in Brown's Wills begins by saying that Edward Napper and his brothers were the sons of "James or John" is due to earlier conflicting statements on this point. In 1692 Sir Robert Napier, Bart. of More Crichel, a descendant of Edward's brother James, who died in 1572, erected in Swyre Church a monument to his ancester, James Napier, with an account of his coming to Dorset from Scotland. (Hutchins' Dorset, ii. 784). The most recent account of this James Napier's connection with the Napiers of Merchiston would seem to be that given by the Napiers of East Pennard in Burke's L.G., which may be compared with the pedigree of Napier of Merchiston, baronets, in Burke's Peerage, and with the records quoted in Hutchins, iii, 125. In the 1623 Visitation of Dorset (Harl. Soc. xx.) the Nappers of Puncknowle describe Edward, James, and Nicholas as the sons of John Napper, adding briefly "came out of Scotland, the name being Napier." Further confusion is caused by the fact that the progenitor of the family, whether James or John, is said to have married Anne, d. of John Russell of Berwick in Swyre. "Two Centuries of Family History," 1930, contains the results of Miss Gladys Scott Thompson's extensive researches into the pedigree of the Russells of Berwick, ancestors of the Dukes of Bedford. She discusses the question of the Napier-Russell marriage, for which she had not been able to find any further evidence. John Russell married in about 1449, which makes it improbable, though not impossible, that his daughter would have had a son who died in 1572. There is in fact no record of his children, and James Russell who succeeded to Berwick might have been a nephew and not a son.

Miss Scott-Thompson also refers to an early MS. pedigree of the Russells, which describes James Napier's wife as Anne, sister of John, first Earl of Bedford, (and therefore granddaughter or great-niece of John Russell of Berwick), and widow of Nicholas Booreman. This seems to put the Napier marriage too late, unless Napier was Anne's first husband and Booreman her second. Edward Napper's own family in Oxfordshire is given as descended from John Napper and "a daughter of my Lord of

p279 Family Chart


Bedfords house"; the Somerset visitation pedigree starts with Nicholas Napper. When Edward Napper made his will he directed that prayers should be said for the souls of his father and mother, but omitted to supply their Christian names, and it is clear that further research would be required to establish their exact identity, though the East Pennard pedigree is in favour of 'James.'

The will itself, with its provision for "obits" and its disposal of church property is an interesting document, though it deals in greater detail with Edward Napper's estates than with his family. It is dated Aug. 8 "in the fifth and sixth year of Philip and Marie" and proved Dec. 19, 1558, (P.C.C. 18 Welles), Napper appears to have been married twice, first to a widow with three daughters, Barbara, Annis and Susan, and secondly to Anne, d. of John Peto of Chesterton, Warwicks. (Warwicks. Visit. Harl. Soc. xii), by whom he had issue William, George and 'other sons: and two daughters. (The Dorset Visitation gives the 'other sons' as Christopher and Thomas, and adds an Edward, who was more probably a grandson), The will lists a number of scattered properties, including the lands of the Chantry of St. John in the Church of South Petherton, which were left to All Souls; the lease of the parsonage of Tintinhull; the manor of Swyre, (Scott-Thompson, ibid. p. 340,-it was sold by William Napper, presumably Edward's son, to Robert Harbin in 1584); the 'farm of Holywell' near Oxford with property in Wolvercot; lands in Horsepath, also near Oxford, which had belonged to the Knights of St. John, and other leases and annuities. There were legacies to Merton College, to the churches of "Swire and Pownell (Puncknowle) where I was born:' and for other charitable purposes. There is a pedigree of Edward Napper's descendants in the Catholic Record Society, i, 133, to which Mr. Oswald has kindly drawn my attention. This gives Edward only three children, William his heir, who lived at Holywell Manor, George, and Joan, married Thomas Greenwood of Oxford, councillor-at-law. The family remained Catholic, and George Napper, after having been ordained at Douai, came back to Oxford as a priest in 1603 and in 1610 was arrested and executed there. One of William's descendants, another William Napper, took the name of Russell on being sent to Douai, became a priest and narrowly escaped death during the Titus Oates period of persecution; he died at Douai in 1693. There are monuments to the family in Holywell church.

Besides a sister Tamsin, Edward Napper was survived by his three brothers, John, James of Swyre, and Nicholas of Tintinhull. James d. 1572, (will pr. 2 Ap, 1572, P.C.c. 11 Daper),


 He left three sons, John, who inherited the manor of Baglake in Long Bredy, and was ancestor of the Nappers of that place, William, who received half the lease of a property called "Bailie" and was ancestor of the N appers of Puncknowle, and Robert, who lived later at Minterne Magna, became Chief Baron of the Exchequer in Ireland, and from whom descended the Napier baronets of Middle Marsh and More Crichel. The other half of "Bailie" was left to the children of James's brother John, and there were legacies to the almshouses of Wareham, Dorchester, Bridport and "Madlyngs near Burporte."

II. NAPPER OF TINTINHULL. i. The Nappers of the Parsonage 1558-1700.

NICHOLAS Napper m. i. Joan, d. of John Masters, and ii. Alice, d. of Simon Court of North Petherton and d. 1579, (will pr. P.C.C. 45 Bakon), leaving issue, with a daughter Margery, five sons: 1. Thomas, his heir; ii. James, who was to inherit "portions" in both Swyre and Tintinhull under his father's will, and d. 1587, (admin. to widow Dorothy, P.C.C. 1588); iii. Lancelot, described on the pedigree as of Swyre, who was given all his father's goods and chattels in Dorset on condition that he paid his father's debts in that county; he married Alice- d. 1597, and was buried in 1602 at Swyre, leaving a son Robert, bapt. there 1588; iv. Robert, m. Joan, d. of Barnard Gould' of Northover and had issue, William and Mary; v. Edward, o.s.p.

There is an account of the early history of Tintinhull with extracts from the Churchwardens' accounts in Som. Arch. Soc. xxxvi (2) 68. It appears from this that Nicholas Napper purchased not only the lease of the parsonage, but the reversion, which had been in the hands of the Crown since the attainder of Sir Thomas Wyatt. This was in 2 Elizabeth I, and deeds are quoted to show that the Parsonage was then settled on Nicholas' eldest son Thomas.

Six Thomas Nappers in succession were the owners of Tintinhull from 1579 to 1760. THOMAS (1) m. Edith d. of John Rocke (or John Lye in other accounts) of Kingsbury Episcopi. (The Kingsbury marriage registers as published in Phillimore's Som. Marriage Registers v. do not help to clear up this point; they are not apparently very legible and two entries for 1577 read :-and Edith Lye, -Napper and Edith Butler). He was buried at Tintinhull 23 Sept. 1626, leaving issue: i. John, o.s.p.; ii. Thomas, his heir; iii. Samuel, m. Dorothy-, and d. 1648; iv. Amos, o.s.p.

1 Will pr. 1650, P.C.C, 199 Pembroke, Brown Hi. 73.


1643; (i) Anne, m. 10 Feb. 1605, John Stephens of Puncknowle, ii. Mary, m. 10 Feb. 1616, John Beaton of Nether Compton, Dorset.

THOMAS (2) m. Honor d. of John Saunders of Martock, (Martock Register, Phillimore iii, 11 Aug. 1621, Thomas 'Mapper' and Honor Sanders), and was bur. at Tintinhull, 25 June, 1650, leaving issue: i, Thomas, his heir; ii, Samuel, o.s.p. 7 June, 1682; iii, John; i. Honor, b. 1623, m. Edward Hopkins of Tintinhull; ii, Mary; iii, Anne, m. 1656, James Russe of Tintinhull; iv, Elizabeth, m. 1661, Nathaniel Cary.

Thomas (2) in his will dated 1 Sept. 1647 (P.C.C. 184 Pembroke) mentions "the parsonage house where I now dwell." "It is probable," Mr. Oswald wrote, "that the structure of the main portion of the house is in part mediaeval," but many alterations were made to it by the Nappers at different times.

The original will gives more details of the Napper property in Tintinhull than appears from Brown's abstract. With the Parsonage went "two messuages called Hodges tenements and two closes of pasture called Springetts Downe containing 8 acres and two other messuages called Burfords tenements and two other closes of pasture called Longforeyard." Samuel was to inherit the tenement "late in the tenure of John Wilkins," and John, the reversion of the tenement in the tenure of Thomas Browne. John is said on the pedigree to have died without issue, and in 1694 "Brown's tenement" was in the possession of his brother Thomas.

THOMAS (3) was b. 1636; m. 1658, Lydia, d. of John a Court of Raddon. He d. 15 June, 1700, and his widow, Lydia, 24 Dec. 1718. Besides Thomas (4) he is said to have had issue a son and five daughters.

THOMAS (4) b. 1661 ; m. 16 Jan. 1683, Rebecca, d. of Solomon Andrew of Lyme Regis, and died in his father's lifetime. He was bur. at Tintinhull 27 Aug. 1694 (M.l. Tintinhull Church) and his will was pr. 19 Feb. 1697/8 (P.C.C. 45 Lort). He left issue two sons, Thomas (5) and Andrew and a daughter, Mary. Rebecca Napper outlived her hnsband for fifty years and died at the age of ninety on 28 Ap. 1745.

It may be noted here that while little is known of the history of the Dower House, except that it belonged to the Nappers and appears to be of mid-seventeenth century date, " the name suggests that it may have been occupied by the widows of Nappers,-possibly by Lydia Napper between 1700-18, and later by her daughter-in-law Rebecca.

Thomas (4) mentions Welham's Mill as part of the Napper estate in his will. It would be tempting to identify this with


the Tintinhull mill of Doomsday Book. Eustace Welham occurs as witness to a Tintinhull deed in the reign of Edward 1. (S.A.S. xxxii (2) 75).

ii. Napper (later Napier) of Tintinhull House.

ANDREW Napper (1),younger son of Thomas (4), was b.14 Nov. 1693 and m. in 1724, Elizabeth Lockett, possibly a relative of the Rev. Henry Lockett, who was appointed Rector of Thorne Coffin by Thomas Napper in 1729. He d. 6 Ap. 1761, leaving one son, Andrew, and three daughters, Sarah, Elizabeth Prowse and Mary Awnt.

Under his father's will, Andrew(1 )hadinherited the reversion of "Burrownes and Henry Brownes Tenement," and since it was at Tintinhull House that he lived, it seems probable that this was in fact "Browne's tenement."

Although the date 1630 and the initial N. on the older part of the house shows that it had belonged to the Nappers from at least that date, Andrew was probably the first member of his family to live there,' and he may well have enlarged the house, and added the beautiful garden front, at the time of his marriage. The alternative, Mr. Oswald suggests, would be to attribute the work to the end of his father's life time, c. 1690-5, but the later date is architecturally the most likely.

ANDREW Napper (2) was a hide merchant in London; he m. 1758, Letitia, d. and coh. of Edward Berkeley of Pylle, and d. aged 44, 22 July, 1770, having made his will as "of Tintinhull" in 1768, (P.C.C. 334 Jenner). He left an only son, Edward Berkeley Napier, who m. in 1790, Sarah d. and h. of Gerard Martin of East Pennard, and d. 1798, leaving in his turn an only son, Gerard Berkeley Napier (1792-1820) who moved to East Pennard.

iii. Napper of the Parsonage, 1700-1760.

Thomas Napper (5) elder son of Thomas (4) was b. 1691 and succeeded his grandfather Thomas (3), in 1700. He m. (i) in 1717, Elizabeth d. of John Edwards of Lyme Regis, and niece and heiress of Peter Carswell of Cadhayne, Devon (M.L Tintinhull), and (ii) Elizabeth d. of the Rev. W. Cox. He was bur. at Tintinhull, 24 Nov. 1737 (will pr. 1739 P.C.C. 217 Henchman). By his first wife he left issue four sons. (i) THOMAS (6) b. 1718, m. Sarah, d. andcoh. of George Hawker of Vagg in Chilthorne Domer. They died without issue, Sarah, 4 Ap. 1752, and Thomas, 10 Jan. 1760. (M.L Tintinhull). By his will pr. 1760 (P.C.C. 68 Lynch) Thomas left Tintinhull to his brother John and Thorne Priors to his brother Andrew.

1 Thomas {2) might have lived there after his marriage in 1621 and before succeeding to the Parsonage; so might his younger son, John.



Lands in Devonshire at "Culliton and Shutt" (Colyton and Shute 1) were left to John and Andrew in trust for the children of their deceased brother Edward.

He also left property in Chilthorne Domer, Ilchester, Lufton and Martock, divided between his brothers.

ii. John-see below.

iii. Edward. He matriculated as Edward Napier at Exeter College, 8 May 1739 aged 18 and took his B.A. 1742. He married Anna Catherine, d. of John Tregonwell and d. before 1759, leaving issue Edward, Thomas-Tregonwell, John and Anne Catherine. (Alumni Oxon., Hutchins, i, 161). Edward Napier "son of Edward Napier of Tintinhull clericus" mat. Queen's College in 1764 aged 17, and was presumably the Edward Napier who was perpetual curate of Tintinhull 1772 - 1816 and Rector of Thorne Coffin 1791. An Edward Napier, who mayor may not have been the same person, was rector of Sutton Waldren, Dorset 1782-1816. (Alumni Oxon.). The Rev. John Tregonwell Napier, 1785-1819, Rector of Chettle, Dorset, 1810-19, may have been his son or nephew. (Hutchins, iii, 570).

iv. Andrew Napper of Thorne, b. 1723, d. unmarried 27 Sept. 1781, leaving Thorne Prior-to his nephew, John Napper of Tintinhull; will pr. 1781, (P.C.C. 607 Webster).

iv. John Napper and his descendants. JOHN Napper, second son of Thomas (5), m. Eleanor, (d. 27 Sept. 1781) d. of Edward Whitchurch of Frome Selwood, and d. 2 May, 1774 aged 54, leaving issue. His son John succeeded to Tintinhull and erected monuments in the church to his parents and his uncle Andrew. He m. Mary, d. of Capt. Philip Walsh R.N. and had four sons, John, Andrew-Nathaniel, Charles-George, and Vernon. He is said "to have indulged in extravagant living" and died in 1791, heavily in debt. His executors, Edward Phelips "the younger" and Nathaniel Dalton of Cucklington renounced, and grant of administration of the will (dated 18 Ap. 1791) was made to the widow Mary, on 26 Aug. In 1792 the estate was sold, the principal purchaser in Tintinhull being Admiral Marriott Arbuthnot, in whose family the Parsonage remained till it was sold by Lord Arbuthnot in 1913. Mary Napper outlived her husband by some thirty years, and continued to live in Tintinhull, possibly as the tenant of Gerard Napier at Tintinhull House.

In "Grandmamma's Recollections and Letters" privately printed in London by H. Broadbent c. 1680 (NOTE this date appears to be incorrect. Webmaster May 2007) , Mr. Oswald discovered an account of the fate of John Napper's sons. "Grandmamma" was Mary Napper's sister, Mrs. Phyllis Scalch. She describes how her brother-in-law ran into debt and "ulti


mately became ruined," and how three of his sons died young, leaving one survivor, the second son, Charles. (In his father's will he appears as the third son, Charles-George). Charles "entered the Artillery and went out to the Cape of Good Hope as aide-de-camp to Lord Caledon; he was present at the taking of the colony from the Dutch. He married there a daughter of the Lord Chief Justice, Van Rynevelt, with whom he had a fortune of 10,000 . . . . he was present at the Battle of Waterloo, where he was severely wounded. . . . when he retired from the service on half pay he went to live at Walmer in Kent. . . . after the death of his first wife he married a Miss Lewin. . . . later he went back to the Cape, where he died," in about 1846. By his first wife, he left an only child, Letitia, the last of the elder branch of the Nappers of Tintinhull.

Apart from this statement there is no direct evidence that the Nappers were extinct and some notes among Mr. Howard's papers suggest that there may have been descendants at least in the female line. A Thomas Napper, who might have been a younger son of John Napper and Eleanor Whitchurch, had by his wife Frances a son, George, bapt. at Frome. 12 Ap. (I) 1783. He may be the George Napper of Somerset, Assistant Surgeon to the Ordnance Medical Dept. who married at the Cape, 1818, Frances Maria van Ryneveld, and d. at Woolwich, aged about forty, 4 Oct. 1823, leaving descendants, in the female line, in South Africa. The connection of the Nappers or Napiers with Tintinhull was finally severed in 1835 with the sale of Tintinhull House to Jeremiah Penny by the Napiers of East Pennard. It was occupied as a farm until "early. in the present century," when it was bought by Dr. S. J. Price, a botanist and antiquarian, who commenced the lay-out of the present garden. In 1933 it became the property of Mr. and Mrs. F. E. Reiss and in 1954 Mrs. Reiss presented the house, with the beautiful gardens which she has maintained through out all the difficulties of recent years, to the National Trust.

The Parsonage, which during the nineteenth century had been occupied by stewards and other tenants of the Arbuthnot family was purchased and restored in about 1928 by Mr. Henry S. Howard, and has since been known as Tintinhull Court. The Court Rolls of the manor, from the seventeenth century onwards, were deposited by Mr. Howard in the Somerset Record Office.