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Merchiston Tower was probably built by Alexander Napier, the second Laird of Merchiston, around 1454..

Sir Alexander Napier, second Laird of Merchistoun (died c. 1473-4), was a Scottish politician and diplomat. He thrice served as Provost of Edinburgh (1453, 1456, 1469), and served as Commissioner for Edinburgh in the parliaments of 1458, 1463, 1464, 1469, 1471 and 1473.

Alexander was the son and heir of Alexander Napare (Napier), first Laird of Merchiston, a burgess and Provost (1437) of Edinburgh. He initially belonged to the household of the queen-mother, Joan Beaufort, and then served as Comptroller to James II (1449–61), ambassador to England (1451 and 1461), and was knighted and appointed Vice-Admiral of Scotland before 7 July 1461. In 1468 he was named joint-commissioner, with Andrew Stewart, lord chancellor, to negotiate a marriage between James III and Margaret, daughter of Christian I of Denmark.

Napier was sent on special embassies to Bruges, in 1472, and to Burgundy, in 1473.

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