Francis Napier

(10th Lord Napier; 1st Baron Ettrick)

1819 - 1898

Diplomat and colonial administrator. Born at Thirlestane Castle in the Scottish Borders, Napier left Cambridge University without a degree, but joined the Diplomatic Service in 1840 where he spent his career. He served in a succession of posts in Vienna, Constantinople, Naples, Washington and The Hague before being appointed British Ambassador in St. Petersburg in 1860 and then in Berlin from 1864. In 1866 he was appointed as Governor of Madras and, faced with a serious famine, initiated a programme of irrigation to mitigate its effects. In 1872 he served briefly as Viceroy of India before retiring to Britain.

He was created Baron Ettrick of Ettrick in July 1872 in recognition of his service. He inherited the title of Lord Napier and the family estate of Merchiston in Edinburgh from his father, William John 9th Lord Napier (1786 - 1843) although never lived there because the old castle had been leased out to a school.

He continued his interests in social reform and was a member of the London School Board. In 1883 he chaired the Napier Commission (the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Condition of Crofters and Cottars in the Highlands and Islands) which brought a permanent body to ensure fair treatment of crofters, known as the Crofter's Commission.

He died suddenly while on holiday in Florence. There is a memorial in Ettrick Parish Church.

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