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James Robert Napier FRS

1821 - 1879

James Robert Napier (1821-1879) was born in Glasgow, Scotland. In 1842, he assumed control over his father's shipbuilding business. Napier conducted a range of experiments with compass navigation and devised the 'Napier's Diagram', which aimed to correct errors in compass navigation on iron vessels.

In 1857, Napier left his father's business to start his own shipbuilding initiatives with mixed success. Napier went on to collaborate with his friend, William John Macquorn Rankine, along with naval architect Isaac Watts and Frederick K Barnes, to write 'Shipbuilding, Theoretical and Practical', published in 1866. The intention was to provide a more technical theoretical approach to the shipbuilding process.

Napier spent much of the latter period of his life as a respected member of Glaswegian society.