The surname of NAPER was derived from the Old French word 'napier' a name that was brought to England from France in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Many of the early names recorded in medieval documents denote noble families but many also indicate migration from the continent during, and in the wake of, the Norman invasion of 1066. There was a constant stream of merchants, workmen and others arriving in England during this time. In 1086 the Record of Great Inquisition of lands of England, their extent, value, ownership and liabilities was made by order of William The Conquerer. It is known as the Domesday Book.
Early records of the name mention John le Naper, documented during the reign of Henry III (1216-1272). Robert le Napere was documented in County Norfolk in 1327. Thomas Nappere of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Later instances of the name include The Right Hon. Francis, Lord Napier and Maria Margaret Clavering were married at St. Georges, Hanover Square, London in the year 1784. Henry Rycroft and Jane Naper were married at the same church in 1794.
During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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