I have had little to depend on in life, save my wits. I would keep them, even to meet death.

Colum MacKenzie is Jamie's maternal uncle. He is a man who reigns over a powerful clan, but must rely on his brother Dougal to be the true muscle. Colum suffers from a condition now known as Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome, a degenerative disease that renders his legs immobile at times, and fills his days with great physical pain. Colum, using wine to dull the pain, is able to rise to the occasion when needed, parading around at clan dinners and gatherings, solidifying his position as clan leader.

Personal HistoryEdit

The eldest son of Jacob and Anne MacKenzie, Colum grew up preparing to be the future laird of the clan, marrying Letitia Chisholm as part of an alliance between the clans. Around age eighteen, however, Colum took two bad falls; the broken bones of his legs never healed properly, and it became clear that it was permanent damage. It was around then that his father died, and suddenly the question of who would lead the clan was in question—could Colum lead, when he would clearly never be able to lead his men in battle? Or ought Dougal, his brother, to become chieftain? The clan held a great Gathering to decide the matter, and eventually Colum was chosen over Dougal. The younger MacKenzie, it was decided, lacked the judgment and levelheadedness needed in a leader. Moreover, Dougal stood by his brother's side and vowed to be his brother's legs and sword-arm, to follow Colum's orders and lead the clan as war chieftain in time of battle.

Events of the NovelsEdit

Warning: The information in the following tabs reveals major plot points in the Outlander novels. Proceed at your own risk.


Colum was cultured, courteous and thoughtful, with a reserve that all but hid the steely core within. With his health and strength, Dougal was a warrior born, but it was obvious that it was Colum who was the chieftain. He was quick and ruthless and would not hesitate to take any advantage of a situation to help his clan.

Colum was a man who liked luxury, enjoying the latest books and finest wine, particularly those from the Rhine region. Colum drank copious amounts of alcohol to combat the pain of his disease. Rather than hide his condition, Colum would often choose to walk a long distance in a deliberate contrast to his tall, straight-bodied younger brother.

Physical AppearanceEdit

Colum shares several of the strong MacKenzie traits with his brother, Dougal, though Colum's eyes are dove-gray like his older sister Ellen's. From the waist up, Colum has the long torso and imposing presence of the MacKenzies, but his legs are crippled by the degenerative disease he suffers, which Claire privately diagnoses as Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome. His skin is pasty and prematurely wrinkled, an effect caused by the poor circulation associated with the disease. Still, Colum's strength of character and "steely core" are undiminished by his affliction, and Claire views Colum as the stronger of the two brothers.



  • Colum is the Irish form of Columba, which in turn is a Late Latin name meaning "dove".[1][2] The form Callum, which is used in the UK edition of Outlander (titled Cross Stitch), is the Scottish variant of Columba. The use of the Irish Colum is in keeping with several hints at the Leoch MacKenzies' ties to Ireland.
  • MacKenzie is the anglicized form of MacCoinnich, a Gaelic patronymic name meaning "son of Coinneach". The personal name Coinneach means "handsome" or "comely".[3][4]



Diana Gabaldon and Gary Lewis compare their socks.

  • Colum suffers from Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome, though the disease was not named so until over a hundred years later by its famous sufferer, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
  • Showrunner Ron Moore explains that actor Gary Lewis wore special socks that could later be manipulated in the visual effects department to appear bowed. Lewis also wore shoes with wedges in them and practiced the peculiar gait with which Colum walks, to better simulate his deformity.[5]
  • His name and its spelling varies slightly between the novels.
    • Colum ban Campbell MacKenzie[6]
    • Callum mac Gibbon MacKenzie[7]
    • Colum mac Campbell MacKenzie[8]
  • In the television series, Claire gives Colum a vial of yellow jasmine, rather than cyanide, which will allow him to drift off to a peaceful and permanent sleep.

TV SeriesEdit

Main article: Outlander (TV series)

Scottish actor Gary Lewis portrays Colum in the STARZ Outlander television series.


Season One

Season Two



  1. Colum name meaning --
  2. Columba name meaning --
  3. Behind the Name
  5. Inside the World of Outlander: Episode 102 – Starz
  6. Outlander, chapter 5
  7. Cross Stitch only, chapter 5
  8. The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel, chapter 3

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