|“||This is the grimoire of the witch, Geillis. It is a witch’s name, and I take it for my own; what I was born does not matter, only what I will make of myself, only what I will become.||”|
Geillis Duncan is the wife of the procurator fiscal, Arthur Duncan, and lives in Cranesmuir, a village near Castle Leoch. She shares Claire's passion for herbs, though her interests extend beyond simple healing and remedies into much darker practices.
The following contains plot spoilers – read at your own risk.
Gillian was born in the 20th century and first married to Greg Edgars, whom she had met through the Scottish National Party. She was also involved with the Society of the White Rose, who celebrated and honored the Stuarts, and she took an avid interest in the significance of stone circles, especially the one at Craigh na Dun. After discovering that Craigh na Dun was one of many portals through which one can travel through time, she recorded detailed notes about how to get through it, researching people she believed tried to or successfully went through, including Claire Randall in the 1940s. Finally, she went through back to the 18th century; since she believed blood and fire were needed, she killed her husband as sacrifice before going through the portal.
Her obsession with the Jacobite cause was her chief motivation to travel back to the 18th century, to try and change the course of Scotland's history. After arriving in 1738, she took the name Geillis Isbister – 'Isbister' being a name of the Northern Isles – and lived in a croft with a man much older than herself. Their neighbors, the MacLarens, didn't know much about them, except that they were strangers that showed up suddenly and built a croft nearby. A few days before Roger MacKenzie and William Buccleigh MacKenzie arrive at the MacLarens', the croft had been burned, and upon investigation the man was found hanged inside, with no trace of the woman. Angus MacLaren only knew that the woman, Geillis, may have been heading to the village of Cranesmuir.
She has a penchant for killing her husbands to inherit and use their wealth for her own ends. She is the biological mother of William Buccleigh MacKenzie and a direct ancestor of Roger MacKenzie, both of whom inherited her green eyes.
She married the local fiscal Arthur Duncan and began stealing money from him for the Jacobite cause; she ran a herb store to the public. She started an affair with Dougal MacKenzie, the war-chieftain of the MacKenzies, in order to get into a more powerful positon. She also grew close to Claire Fraser due to their joint knowledge of herbs. Geillis killed her husband later by poisoning him; which lead to her gaining his money and belongings. When Geillis discovered she was pregnant with Dougal's child he informed his brother, the Cheiftain of the MacKenzies, Colum, who had her tried for being a witch along with Claire. She managed to save Claire's life by revealing her pregnancy and claiming Claire's innocence but she was sentenced to be burnt to death after she gave birth to her child. When she did Dougal came to take their newborn son away until she threatened her child's life unless she was given her freedom. So Dougal took her to France for a new life.
In Scotland in 1968, Claire tells Roger Wakefield that Geillis Duncan was his ancestor and that she was burned alive in 1743. When she asked Fiona Graham about the standing stones at Craigh na Dun, Fiona told her that another woman had been asking about them. She said the woman was tall and fair skinned with very striking green eyes and that she reminded Fiona of someone and that her name was Gillian Edgars. Claire asks Roger if they should try to stop her from going through the stones and Roger says yes, even if it puts his very existence in danger.
Claire and Roger go looking for Gillian at her apartment and are rudely turned aside by her husband. They next go to the Institute for the Study of Highland Folklore and Antiquities where Gillian took courses. The receptionist there shows them a picture and Claire indicates to Roger that it is Geillis. They meet with the director of the institute who tells them that Mrs. Edgars is a very intense student and that at times her interests seem a bit obsessive. Claire asks if she's interested in standing stones and stone circles and he confirms it. The director shows them Geillis's study carrel with her papers and notes.
Later, Roger takes Brianna out to dinner then casually tells her he wants to drop off a bottle of whiskey. He tells Greg Edgars he is Gillian's cousin and since they're armed with alcohol, Edgars agreeably invites them in. Roger asks if Greg knows where his wife is and Greg says she's probably with the Scottish Nationals party or the Society of the White Rose, two organizations working toward Scottish independence. He tells Roger that Gillian is obsessed with Bonnie Prince Charlie and often has others around to talk about what if his rebellion had succeeded. Brianna asks Greg if his wife is interested in standing stones and he says they are. After they leave, Brianna asks Roger who the woman in the photograph was and he tells her Geillis Duncan. Bree starts to believe her mother's story.
Claire steals Gillian's notebook from the institute and learns Gillian's plans. The three of them go to Craigh na Dun on Beltaine eve to stop her, but by the time they reach the stones, Gillian has set her husband on fire as a sacrifice. They watch as Geillis, dressed in 18th century clothing, disappears into the cleft in the stones. Roger is nearly pulled into the stones and Claire is knocked unconscious. Even Brianna hears the stones and realizes that her mother's story was true.
After living in France – during which time she had two more husbands that she also killed – she traveled west to Jamaica where she married Barnabas Abernathy, a wealthy plantation owner, whom she killed soon after their marriage. She then endeavored to kidnap young white boys and hold them prisoner in her home. One of these was young Ian Murray, who was captured by pirates off the coast of Scotland. She would take each boy to her room, drug them and, if they were virgins, would search for a stone only virgins had. It's unknown what she wanted from them apart from the stone, but afterwards she would have them killed. Ian Murray was the last boy she took to her room; and since he wasn't a virgin she only slept with him but still kept him prisoner. Jamie and Claire Fraser, looking for Ian, discovered her presence in Jamaica and found out her story while they searched for young Ian, but Geillis also found pictures of their daughter Brianna. She then hired a man to search through the Fraser history to find the descendants of Simon Fraser. When discovering Brianna was the last descendant she decides to travel back to the 20th century after finding out Claire had been back and forth three times but focusing on- in Claire's case- both her husbands. So she took Ian to a cave were there was a portal and started a ceremony she believed would help her get through in the future. But the Frasers stopped her before she could. She then held a gun to Ian's head threatening to kill him if they came any closer, but Jamie did and she shot him. This causes Claire to decapitate Geillis with an axe as Geillis aimed to use her daughter and her having just shot her husband. Her remains stayed in the cave until the 20th century where they were found by medical students and taken to the hospital that Claire worked at (before she returned to the 18th century) where Claire and Dr. Joe Abernathy attempted to identify her.
In 1739, Roger MacKenzie tells William Buccleigh MacKenzie who his parents are. Buck decides to visit his mother and they travel to Cranesmuir. They find her at the procurator fiscal's house of her husband, Arthur Duncan in the company of Dr. Hector McEwan and when Geillis examines Roger's wounded throat, he realizes she is having an affair with the doctor.
Geillis takes Buck to her upstairs room, while Roger questions McEwan about what he knows about Geillis. McEwan knows that Geillis is a fellow time traveler, but she has not admitted that to him. He said Geillis got pregnant with his child and that she aborted the fetus.
Later, Roger tells Buck all he knows about Geillis Duncan.
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Geillis can be very charming, but will not hesitate to use any one or any means, including murder, to further the Stuart cause. She has murdered at least five husbands, usually wealthy men. In her middle years, Claire thinks she is suffering pronounced dementia, most likely caused by syphilis. At first, she is a friend to Claire, but later on they become mortal enemies.
In Outlander, Geillis Duncan is a tall young woman, perhaps a few years older than Claire. She has fair hair and skin and beautiful green eyes, with a generous bosom and swell of hip. In her later years, she grew fat, the delicate bones of her face hidden in swelling plumpness, but with the same green eyes filled with malice and humor.
Gillian was a Scot who married Greg Edgars, whom she met through the Scottish National Party. She murdered her alcoholic husband in a ritual to go through the standing stones on Craigh na Dun. She used blood and five gemstones to aid her passage, and she arrived in 18th century Scotland some time before 1739, where she took the name Geillis.
Geillis conceived Dougal MacKenzie's bastard child, and her pregnancy saved her from being burned as a witch for several months. After she gave birth to a son, the child was given to another family to raise. Dougal saved her from burning, using the corpse of a recently deceased woman in her place.
Roger MacKenzie is a descendant of Geillis and Dougal's son. Roger has Geillis's eyes and inherited her ability to pass through the stones.
- Gillian is a Medieval English feminine form of Julian, grom the Roman name Iulianus, which was derived from Julius which is from a Roman family name which was possibly derived from Greek ιουλος (ioulos) "downy-bearded".
- Edgars is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century male personal name "Eadgar", composed of the elements ead, "prosperity, fortune", with gar, "spear"; the first element was a distinguishing mark of the royal house of Wessex.
- Geileis (GAY-leesh) comes from the Old Irish name Gelgeis: gel "shining, bright" + geis "swan". Name of several early Irish princesses.
- Isbister is a habitational name from any of several places in the Orkneys and Shetlands named Isbister.
- Duncan is the Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Donnchadh meaning "brown warrior", derived from Gaelic donn "brown" and cath "warrior".
- Mélisande is the French form of Millicent, from the Germanic name Amalasuintha, composed of the elements amal "work, labour" and swinth "strong".
- Robicheaux is a French surname that is probably an altered spelling of Robichon or Roubichou, pet forms of Robert, from the Germanic name Hrodebert meaning "bright fame", derived from the Germanic elements hrod "fame" and beraht "bright".
- Abernathy is a Scottish habitational name from Abernethy in southeastern Perthshire. The place name is of Pictish origin, meaning "mouth of the river Nethy".
- Geillis Duncane (or Gillis Duncan) was the name of a real woman who was tried as a witch in 1591 during the North Berwick witch trials in Scotland.
- Main article: Outlander (TV series)
- ↑ Geillis has blond hair in the book series. Lotte Verbeek, who plays Geillis in the TV series, has red hair.
- ↑ Behind the Name: Gillian - accessed 07 June 2016
- ↑ Behind the Name: Julian - accessed 07 June 2016
- ↑ Behind the Name: Julius - accessed 07 June 2016
- ↑ Surname Database: Edgars - accessed 07 June 2016
- ↑ Celtic Female Names of Ireland – accessed 26 June 2014
- ↑ Ancestry.com Surnames: Isbister - accessed 07 June 2016
- ↑ Behind the Name: Duncan - accessed 07 June 2016
- ↑ Behind the Name: Mélisande - accessed 07 June 2016
- ↑ Behind the Name: Millicent - accessed 07 June 2016
- ↑ Ancestry.com Surnames: Robicheaux - accessed 07 June 2016
- ↑ Behind the Name: Robert - accessed 07 June 2016
- ↑ Ancestry.com Surnames: Abernathy - accessed 07 June 2016
- ↑ "The Witch Persecution in Scotland." Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of History, Volume 3, Issues 1-6. Comp. University of Pennsylvania. Dept. of History. N.p.: U of Pennsylvania, 1912. N. pag. Google Books. Web. 26 June 2014. link.