Macvey Napier (1776-1847)

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Macvey Napier was born in Kirkintilloch, Dumbartonshire, on 11 April 1776. He was educated locally, then in 1789 went to study at the University of Glasgow , then to the University of Edinburgh, where he studied law. In 1799 he was admitted to the Society of Writers to the Signet.

Napier's interests lay more in the literary world however and, earlier, in 1798, he made the acquaintance of the bookseller, later publisher, Archibald Constable (1774-1827). Their friendship lasted till Constable's death. In 1805, Napier was appointed Librarian by the Writers to the Signet (at the Signet Library), and that year too he became a regular contributor to the Edinburgh Review. In 1814 he undertook editing work for a supplement to the sixth edition of Constable's Encyclopaedia Britannica (1824). This project brought him contact with some eminent writers and thinkers - Malthus, James Mill, and Dugald Stewart (1753-1828).

In 1824, Napier became Professor of Conveyancing at Edinburgh University, and was the first to occupy this particular Chair although he had been lecturing in the subject since 1816. He was involved too with the editing of the seventh edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica although the bankruptcy and subsequent death of Constable in 1827 as well as difficulties with Adam Black and partners - the new owners of the work - interfered with the project which was not completed until 1842. Earlier, in 1829, Napier became the editor of the Edinburgh Review

In 1837 he was appointed as a Clerk of Session. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Society of London. Professor Macvey Napier died on 11 February 1847.