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Lord John Grey

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A romantic or a novelist might count the world well lost for love. So far as Grey's own opinion counted, a love that sacrificed honor was less honest than simple lust, and degraded those who professed to glory in it.

Lord John Grey is a secondary character in the Outlander novels and the protagonist of a subseries of historical mysteries, the Lord John novels and novellas. His first appearance is as a young English soldier, age sixteen, before the Battle of Prestonpans in Dragonfly in Amber, and subsequently he appears as the new governor of Ardsmuir Prison, where he strikes up a tenuous friendship with Jamie Fraser. He has had appearances in each subsequent novel, although his appearance in The Fiery Cross is limited to a series of letters exchanged between him and the Fraser family. The Lord John stories take place during the period of time in which Jamie is at Helwater.

Personal History Edit

Lord John William Bertram Armstrong Grey was born around June 1729 to Gerard Grey, Duke of Pardloe and Earl of Melton, and his wife Benedicta Grey, née Armstrong. Grey has three elder brothers; Harold "Hal" Grey, his elder brother from his parents' marriage, and Paul and Edgar DeVane, from his mother's marriage to Captain DeVane. It is unclear just how much older Grey's siblings are, although Grey was about ten when Edgar married.

Grey was enrolled for The Society for the Appreciation of the English Beefsteak, a gentleman's club, upon his birth by his godfather, who began taking him there for lunch every Wednesday starting when he was seven. As an adult, Grey continues to frequent the club, preferring it to White's, of which he is also a member. At the time of the Lord John series it is not uncommon for him to sleep at the Beefsteak instead of returning to his mother's home, where he keeps his rooms. Grey is a fine swordsman, having first begun lessons with one at the age of three; at a young age he once struck Hal on the leg with a sword, doing no lasting damage but leaving a scar.

On Grey's twelfth birthday, he was given a pocket watch by his father, identical to the one his brother received on his own twelfth birthday. The next day, Grey's father was found dead by his mother, having been murdered in the night. Not knowing who had committed the murder and wanting to protect her family, Grey's mother covered it up, making it appear as though Pardloe had committed suicide; at the time, he had been suspected as a Jacobite supporter, and his death was perceived by some as an admission of guilt. The family was dishonored by the allegations, and an attempt to have the dukedom of Pardloe revoked was briefly made.

Thoroughly shamed, Grey's elder brother Hal chose to be referred to by his lesser title, the Earl of Melton, rather than take on one that was associated with such a scandal. As the head of the family, Melton's choice was accepted by his mother, who became known as the Dowager Countess instead of the Dowager Duchess. If John had followed suit, he would have been called the Honourable John Grey, as befitting an earl's younger son. However, John insisted on continuing to be called Lord John, as befitting a duke's younger son. Immediately after his father's death, Grey was sent to Aberdeen, Scotland, to stay with his mother's family and avoid the scandal, although it was not until much later in his life that Grey came to realize this.

Outlander seriesEdit

In September of 1745, sixteen-year-old Lord John Grey first sees Jamie Fraser by the light of a campfire in the Carryarick Pass while on campaign with his elder brother's regiment. Young Grey recognizes him as the notorious Highlander called Red Jamie, and while he hesitates to attempt capturing the criminal alone, he makes his decision to kill the man when he notices an Englishwoman in the man's company, and assumes she is there against her will. Grey fails to kill Jamie, and feels unbearably foolish when he learns that the woman is in fact Fraser's wife – after having divulged military intelligence about the nearby English army in exchange for the lady's honor. Fraser lets John live, and has him tied to a tree where his fellows will find him in the morning. Grey's parting words include the pronouncement of a debt of honor between them, and he avows that, should he have the chance to discharge that debt, he will do so, and then kill Fraser.

Voyager, part one

On February 15, 1755, Lord John arrives in Ardsmuir, Scotland, to replace Colonel Harry Quarry as governor of Ardsmuir Prison. He was sent there after his involvement in a hushed-up scandal.

When he learns from Quarry that one of the prisoners under his care is Jamie Fraser, Grey immediately relives the mortification of their encounter nearly a decade before. Despite the suggestion of his predecessor that Grey meet with Fraser, whom the Jacobite prisoners consider their leader, to discuss matters concerning the prisoners' welfare, Grey stubbornly resolves not to face Fraser again.

This notion becomes short-lived when Grey receives word of a man in the nearby village raving about gold in a mixture of French and Gaelic. Grey realizes he must seek Fraser's assistance, as Fraser is the only man in the prison who speaks both languages, and would have no way of acting on the information they obtain. There is also the tantalizing idea that if he, Grey, were able to locate the fabled Frenchman's gold meant for Charles Stuart during the Rising and hand it over to the crown, he might escape his banishment sooner. Though Fraser agrees to translate, the strange man's words make little to no sense, and he dies early the next morning. Thereafter, Grey finally heeds Quarry's advice and has Fraser summoned to meet with him in his quarters every month, with the endgame of discovering more information about the gold.

The two men, though their acquaintance is necessarily formal, develop a certain rapport – they recognize each other as fellow soldiers, and both enjoy discussing literature and playing chess. However, their fragile bond is shattered when Grey, who has found himself attracted to Fraser and falling in love with him, makes a tentative move on the prisoner. Fraser rejects him utterly, and severs all contact with him. Later, Fraser takes the blame for the presence of an illicit bit of Highland tartan in the prison block, and Grey has no choice but to have Fraser flogged as punishment.

Upon the completion of the fortress renovations at Ardsmuir in 1756, Grey is charged with transporting the prisoners to the American colonies. In Fraser's case, however, he makes an exception, and arranges to have him paroled at Helwater, to be quartered with the Dunsany family, who have a long acquaintance with Grey. Throughout Jamie's parole, Lord John visits Helwater periodically to ensure Fraser's welfare.

For events between 1756 and 1766, refer to summaries for the Lord John series below.

Voyager, part two

For events between 1756 and 1766, refer to summaries for the Lord John series below.

In early 1767, Lord John meets Claire again on a ship to the West Indies, though he only knows her as Mrs. Malcolm and does not see her in the daylight, and thus does not recognize her as Jamie's wife. Later, after Claire escaped the ship and Lord John had assumed his position as governor of Jamaica, Lord John meets Jamie at a ball for his arrival as governor, and finally sees Claire for who she really is. During the ball, John meets with Jamie in private to give him a miniature portrait of his son, William, and Claire observes them, unseen, as they embrace with great feeling. After his initial shock at discovering her true identity, John talks privately with Claire and explains how Jamie came to have a son and how he, John, came to be stepfather to the boy: In September 1764, Lord John told Jamie he would marry Isobel Dunsany and become William's stepfather. Jamie had offered his body to Lord John, who declined. Instead, with gratitude, Jamie kissed him.

In the autumn of 1768, Lord John arrives unannounced at Fraser's Ridge with his stepson, WilliamJamie's illegitimate son. He reveals that his wife, Isobel, died while on the passage to Jamaica with William, and he travels now to his wife's estate in Virginia. Fraser's Ridge is not precisely on the way from Charleston to the estate in Virginia, but Lord John wanted to stop and see Jamie, for various reasons.

While visiting, Lord John contracts the measles, and Claire treats him while Jamie takes William on a hunting trip to protect him from infection. John and Claire speak frankly while Jamie is gone, a tense conversation that perhaps helps them understand each other better. He leaves once he has recovered and William returns with Jamie from hunting.

About a year later, John returns to North Carolina, this time to Cross Creek, where a pregnant Brianna awaits news of Roger and her parents. Lord John stops at River Run in the course of searching for Roger Wakefield, as Jamie had asked him to do months ago, but Brianna apprises him of the developments in the search for Roger. Instead of moving on to Wilmington, Lord John stays on at River Run and keeps Brianna company while they wait for Jamie and Claire to return, hopefully with Roger.

After witnessing Lord John paying a late night visit to the slave quarters, and guessing at his homosexuality, Brianna tries to blackmail Lord John into marrying her, threatening to expose him as a "pederast" if he refuses. Lord John insists she explain how she came to resort to blackmail to solve her problems, and they have a long discussion about her predicament and John's own history. Eventually, John agrees to fake an engagement with her, in order to throw off her other potential suitors while they wait for news of Roger. It is during these months at River Run that Brianna and Lord John become close friends.

In the spring, Lord John hears of Stephen Bonnet's arrest and sentence to hang, and tells Brianna of it. She insists she wants to see Bonnet before his execution, and Lord John reluctantly agrees to take her to him. While in the cellar of the building where Bonnet is being kept, Sergeant Murchison knocks a blow to Lord John's head, rendering John apparently dead. Brianna discovers he is not, and gets Bonnet to carry John's lifeless body out and away from the building, which is set to explode. They get out in time, and Bonnet escapes while John survives.

Lord John is still recovering from his injuries when Jamie and Claire return from their journey in May. Claire inspects the healing wound to John's head, on which another physician performed surgery. Claire returns John's ring to him, which had helped maintain the ruse of his engagement to Brianna.

Lord John does not appear in person in The Fiery Cross, but he and Jamie exchange several letters throughout the novel. Jamie writes to John and tells him that Brianna's son is named Jeremiah Alexander Ian Fraser MacKenzie, "Ian" being the Scottish version of "John", and informs him of his task of forming a militia and leading them to do the governor's bidding. Jamie asks John to look after his family, should anything happen to him.

Later, Brianna finds a letter from Lord John in her father's study, but not the one that the family had all shared earlier. She reads that John has been helping Jamie find out about Stephen Bonnet's whereabouts, at Jamie's request. He has also been on the lookout for an astrolabe for Jamie, but one of these does not appear until some time later, and not from Lord John, but his stepson, William.

In 1775, Grey writes to Jamie Fraser to warn him that Fraser's name is associated with the American rebels and urges him to disassociate himself from such people. Jamie replies that the continued correspondence poses a danger to Grey and thus this link between them must be severed.

In July 1776, Grey is in Wilmington where his stepson William is with his regiment as a lieutenant. Grey meets Brianna MacKenzie and her family, and tells Brianna that William is in fact Jamie's son and her half-brother, but urges her to keep the secret. Jamie visits Grey at an inn, and the two watch Brianna and William talking to each other on the street. As Brianna will be going back to the future in a few months, Jamie asks Grey for a jewel for her pass through the stones, and Grey gives him his gold ring set with a sapphire – Hector's ring.

In July 1776, Grey meets Percy Wainwright – who now uses the name Beauchamp and is a French spy – in Wilmington. Percy wants him to convey a message to the British government that he is willing to provide information on one of Washington's chief officers that could be used to turn that officer, in exchange for the Northwest Territory, which once belonged to France. He also asks him questions about Jamie Fraser, claiming that he is looking for some man and wants to question Fraser, and mentions Grey's step-son William. Grey tells him to stay away from him and his son.

In November 1776, Grey returns to London, where he looks into Beauchamp and finds out that many files pertaining to him have gone missing. However, he learns that a French nobleman is looking for a man named Claudel Fraser, and Beauchamp has been tasked with the search.

Grey also receives a letter from William in which he claims to be in love with Grey's niece Dottie and wants Grey to present his suit for her hand to Dottie's father Hal. Grey doesn't believe William's claims and confronts Dottie in an attempt to figure out what the two are up to, however, he eventually does speak to Hal on William's behalf.

In late December 1776, Grey goes to France to continue his search for information regarding Percy Beauchamp and his connections, which include Denys Randall-Isaacs who currently accompanies William on an intelligencing expedition in Canada. He visits Baron Amandine and meets Dr. Franklin, a prominent Philadelphian. Grey returns to London in March 1777, and he and Dottie leave for Philadelphia in early April, to rescue Dottie's brother Henry who has been seriously wounded and is held prisoner there.

Grey and Dottie arrive in Philadelphia in June 1777. Grey visits the house of Mrs. Mercy Woodcock, a young and married African woman, who nurses Henry. Grey notices that a bond has developed between his nephew and Mrs. Woodcock, and is worried that should she become a widow – her husband is a rebel – Henry might want to marry her, which would cause a family scandal.

On July 4, Grey looks for Dr. Benjamin Rush, who might be able to operate on Henry, whose condition is still serious. Grey finds himself in a taproom where Dr. Rush and other prominent rebels celebrate the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. He then notices Percy Beauchamp and the two walk to Southeast Square, where Percy tells Grey the story of Fergus's parents. The same day, Grey writes letters to his brother Hal, Harry Quarry, a London associate Arthur Norrington who investigates Percy, and to Jamie Fraser. Grey remembers that Claire Fraser experimented with ether, and hopes that she might be inclined to come to Philadelphia to operate on Henry. However, he learns that the Frasers left the Ridge months earlier, intending to visit Scotland.

In September 1777, Grey and Dottie watch British troops commanded by General Howe marching triumphantly into Philadelphia. In November, William arrives and tells Grey about an excellent Continental surgeon who could help Henry – Denzell Hunter, whom William could fetch from Valley Forge under a flag of truce, along with Hunter's sister and nurse Rachel.

At Christmas, Denzell operates on Henry and becomes engaged to Dottie – they have met in London and fallen in love, and Dottie followed Denny across the ocean.

In April 1778, Claire Fraser comes to Grey's house in Philadelphia, having learned that some months earlier he bought oil of vitriol, which she requires for making ether. They strike a bargain and Claire operates on his nephew Henry.

Grey then learns that the Euterpe has sunk, and as Jamie Fraser is believed to have been on board, Grey delivers Claire news of her husband's death. Grey himself is shattered.

Captain Richardson pays Grey a visit and informs him that he intends to arrest Claire for espionage. Grey proposes to Claire – he can protect her, as well as Fergus's family – and they marry at Grey's house, with William being best man to Grey. Grey and Claire mourn Jamie together and become intimate.

In June, Jamie Fraser, who wasn't aboard the sunken ship, arrives at Lord John Grey's house, followed closely by British soldiers. Grey tries to help him escape, but they are interrupted by William who sees Fraser and realizes the striking resemblance between Jamie and himself. To Grey's horror, Jamie reveals the truth about William's paternity. William is furious with both Fraser and Grey.

As the soldiers come into the house, Jamie pretends to be taking Grey hostage, and William delays the soldiers further, allowing them escape.

Grey and Fraser leave the city, and Jamie thanks Grey for taking care of Claire in his absence. Knowing that Jamie will sooner or later find out that Grey and Claire had sex, Grey admits to him that "he has had carnal knowledge" of Fraser's wife.

On June 16, 1778, Lord John Grey tells Jamie Fraser that he had sex with his wife Claire when they believed Jamie was dead. Jamie assaults him, but they are interrupted by a group of Continental army soldiers who take Grey prisoner, and Jamie lets them. Grey is believed to be a spy, which can get him hanged. However, he is relieved that Jamie is still alive and that Grey himself isn't married to Claire anymore. With help from his niece Dottie and her fiancé Denzell Hunter, Grey escapes the next day. However, he soon encounters another group of rebels, introduces himself as Bertram Armstrong, an American patriot, and finds himself swearing an oath of allegiance to the United States.

While with the Continental army, Lord John encounters Germain Fraser, who promises to keep his identity a secret. However, when General Fraser inspects his troops, Claire notices Grey among the soldiers. Grey surrenders to Jamie and is escorted to his tent, where Claire treats his eye. During the Battle of Monmouth, Percy Beauchamp visits Grey and warns him that his stepson William Ransom is in danger from Captain Ezekiel Richardson. Grey escapes and reaches the British army's camp, where he is reunited with his brother Hal and William. After the battle, William disappears and Lord John and Hal pay Jamie a visit to ask for a letter of introduction to General Arnold. They are searching for William and Hal's son Benjamin, who was taken by rebels months earlier and is rumored to be dead.

They then go to Lord John's house in Philadelphia, where they meet Dottie and William. They inform Dottie and William on the developments regarding Benjamin, and William offers to look for his cousin.

In August, the Greys participate in Dottie's Quaker wedding. In September, Lord John and Hal are in New York, as John prepares for a journey south, to look for Amaranthus Cowden – a woman who claims to be Benjamin's widow and the mother of his child. Dottie joins Grey, and they arrive in Charleston in late September. When Dottie realizes that she is pregnant, Grey takes her back to New York to her husband Denzell Hunter.

In January 1779, Grey meets William in Savannah when his son calls upon Lieutenant Colonel Campbell to speak on behalf of Jane Pocock, a prostitute arrested for murder. Lord John tries to help him, but their attempts to save the girl fail, and William turns for help to Jamie Fraser. After William and Jamie find Jane dead, Grey visits Campbell to claim her body and meets Claire with Fanny Pocock. Claire gives an account of a conversation she had with Ezekiel Richardson a few days earlier, and warns Grey that Richardson is aware of Grey's homosexuality. They meet again the next day, at Jane's funeral.

On January 15, Grey and Hal find Amaranthus Cowden, who decides to go with them.

Lord John SeriesEdit

In autumn of 1756, Lord John is dining at The Society for the Appreciation of the English Beefsteak with Harry Quarry. Harry teasingly toasts him about his return from exile – Ardsmuir Prison – a post they have in common. John's eyes keep wanting to look to the corridor, seeing a flash of red hair, a color that reminds him of someone he knew it couldn't be.

Quarry introduces the man as his cousin by marriage, Robert Gerald. Gerald is invited to join them for drinks while Quarry asks what had taken place in the corridor. Gerald explains that he had been made an offer from George Bubb-Dodington, an offer he refused. Upon leaving, Grey finds himself alone with Gerald in the vestibule. Gerald requests a favor of Grey – to meet after dark at the Royal Exchange, and Grey agrees, though he does not yet know the nature of Gerald's difficulty.

Grey fills his afternoon with errands, and Quarry joins him for company. The pair find themselves near the Exchange taking coffee, comparing London and how busy it is to their shared exile in the Highlands. The conversation turns to Fraser; Quarry speaks highly of the man, yet admits that Fraser wasn't a man to underestimate. He confides in Grey about the 'accidental' death of a Sergeant, which Quarry has documented as a 'misadventure' because, even if he could prove it was Fraser, he liked the Scot more than the sergeant.

The conversation between the men is interrupted as Quarry makes note of his cousin arriving. As they move to greet him, someone – using the surge of the crowd – strikes Gerald down with their blade. By the time that Quarry and Grey manage to push through the throngs of people, Gerald lay dying upon the ground. While Quarry rages at the crowd demanding answers, Grey tries to get even a hint of the perpetrator's identity from Gerald. Gerald's lips move to speak, but the words do not come as he dies. Grey vows to avenge Gerald.

Over the next two days, Grey makes inquiries and speculations, thoroughly inspecting every corner of Front Street, but to no avail. The most he can determine is that the attack was planned. Grey and Quarry make attempts to speak with the hall porter at the Beefsteak to determine what Bubb-Dodington had spoken to Gerald about the day of his death. However, the man was temporary staff and already gone. Grey tries canvassing all of Gerald's acquaintances for any rumors of enemies or falling outs that might reveal some hint of who would want to kill him, but no one can think of any reason someone would wish Gerald dead.

Grey receives an invitation to a party hosted by Sir Richard Joffrey and Lady Lucinda Joffrey, from Quarry, who has attached his own note to Grey to come, as he had news. Grey also receives a note from Bubb-Dodington requesting some of his time – as convenient – at the Joffreys'. Upon review of Quarry's note, he finds a broadsheet attached containing a rather invidious poem that gives undertones of speculation to Gerald's sexuality, and justice being served with his death.

Almost as soon as Grey arrives, Quarry takes him aside to speak in private. Quarry tells him how more of that broadsheet and others like it had been put all around the city, and that people were making accusations that Gerald was a pederast and a member of a notorious sodomitical society. These rumors only fuel Quarry's outrage.

Grey deduces that the murderer sought to discredit Gerald's name, as well as silence him – but why ruin the reputation of a dead man? Quarry, at a loss, looks around at the other guests; Grey does likewise, and is caught off guard by the sight of his former lover, George Everett. But Everett is a momentary distraction, and Grey is introduced to Lady Lucinda, who is doing her best to keep up appearances, in spite of her distress over her cousin's murder.

Feeling no longer obligated to keep silent about Gerald's last request, Grey tells Quarry and Lucinda that Gerald felt he could not confide in anyone else, and asked Grey to meet him. Quarry is shocked at the meeting's intended location, and offended that his cousin didn't confide in him.

Grey reminds Quarry that the original pretext for their meeting at the party was some news Quarry had. Quarry explains that he had learned that the offer Gerald had refused was an invitation to an event at Sir Francis Dashwood's home in West Wycombe. Lady Lucinda advises Grey, who is unfamiliar with the place, that Sir Francis entertains there for the purpose of seducing the powerful, much as many of the upper crust do. They consider that "the West Wycombe assemblage" might have been interested in Gerald's access to the prime minister.

While Quarry is drawn to the dance floor, Lucinda reveals to Grey that Quarry was exiled to Scotland after calling out a colonel for cheating at cards. She points out Sir Francis Dashwood across the room, and Grey recalls hearing about Dashwood's association, the Hellfire Club, that meets at Medmenham Abbey. After Lady Lucinda departs to join her husband, Grey moves through the crowd listening to the conversations, all about Gerald's death and the rumors about him. While recoiling from Justice Margrave's comments of castration as a punishment for sodomy, he is greeted by Everett. Their conversation is cut short when Bubb-Dodington makes his introduction to Grey, and invites him to come to Medmenham Abbey. Grey makes his excuses to leave the conversation and rejoins Lady Lucinda and Harry Quarry, who is still ranting in outrage about Dashwood. Grey notices the way Quarry's lips move to say 'Dashwood' and realized that's what Gerald was trying to say when he died.

With Dashwood's name now implicated, Grey accepts the invitation to Medmenham Abbey. For the first three days, Grey notices that there is an air secrecy, and other than women coming to dine, the house-guests are all men. The most Grey can determine for sure is that Dashwood didn't murder Gerald – at least not directly – as he has an alibi. Grey inquires bluntly of Everett both what Dashwood would want with him and about Gerald's death. Everett makes the point that by association, Grey was doing harm to his own reputation.

After a day of nervous anticipation, Grey retires as usual, passing the candle before the window to the signal to Quarry – who had insisted on accompanying him, but to remain at a distance – that all is well. Grey feels obscurely comforted by Quarry being outside, more so than by Everett's presence in the next room.

He is awakened to find his bed surrounded by what look like hooded monks, who pull Grey out of bed in silence, strip him, and help him into a robe of his own. He is led out to the garden, then through a curious portal carved to resemble the female privates. The 'monks' begin their chants, and Grey tries not to laugh at it all. Dashwood speaks, giving rites similar to mass but to invoke the Master of Darkness, and an ape dressed as a bishop is brought out, jumping onto the altar and slobbering over everything.

As the now drunken group makes to depart, Grey is seized and pulled back, and bent over a marble basin. Dashwood intones a prayer in reverse Latin, putting something warm and sticky over Grey's head. Grey's attempts to struggle result in his getting punched hard in the stomach, knocking the breath out of him. Now blood-stained, he is forced to drink wine with a distinct taste of opium in it, then taken to a room and pushed inside the door, which is locked behind him.

As the little opium he had ingested wears off, he is shocked to find a young, naked and quite dead woman in the room with him. Grey is trying to puzzle out the point of this, when the door finally opens and Everett enters the room. Grey demands to know what this is all about. Everett takes the rope from Grey's robe, leaving him exposed, and wraps it tight around the girls neck to make it appear that she had been strangled. Everett explains that it's part of the initiation to the brotherhood – the rites, the baptizing in blood, and then the new pledge is locked with a young woman for his pleasure before she is then to be sacrificed at the pledge's hands while an elder brother acts as witness.

Everett confesses that he had gone through the rites as well, and ultimately confesses to the murder of Robert Gerald; Everett had approached Gerald as a prospective lover, but Gerald rejected him. Once the Hellfire Club selected Gerald as a new member, Everett knew he could not risk that Gerald would tell the brotherhood what he was – a sodomite – and he decided to eliminate him as a liability. Because Grey had been investigating Gerald's death and now knew the truth, Everett admits that he cannot let Grey live, either. Everett explains that the broadsheets had nothing to do with Gerald's death; they were just the Club's attempts to agitate Sir Richard. Grey, meanwhile, has been plotting his defense while Everett has been talking, and chooses a glass of wine as his best weapon.

They struggle for a minute, Grey with his broken glass and Everett with a knife, until Grey manages to kick Everett hard enough that he staggers backward, right into Harry Quarry's outstretched sword. Grey is unsure how much Quarry had heard, let alone what he might have made of it.

Beyond the memories of it that he would carry, Lord John Grey would also carry a scar from Everett's blade down the side of his neck.

In June 1757, Grey finds himself investigating his cousin Olivia's betrothed, Joseph Trevelyan. While at the Beefsteak, Grey had caught a glance at Trevelyan in the washroom and spotted what he suspected to be a syphilis sore. Not wanting to incite a public scandal that would definitely taint his cousin's reputation, Grey begins to investigate the matter more privately, in an attempt to force Trevelyan to end the engagement without ruining Olivia. While looking into this, Grey also becomes responsible for investigating the death of a soldier from the 46th Regiment, who had been suspected of espionage. His investigation of Trevelyan leads Grey back to the Lavender House, a discreet London club that caters to gay men, which he had previously frequented while in the company of George Everett years before. While there, Grey meets Percy Wainwright for the first time, though not intimately. During his investigation, Grey also meets Hubert Bowles, a spymaster, Stephan von Namtzen , a German captain, and Tom Byrd, the younger brother of one of the men implicated in the investigations and whom Grey takes on as his valet.

In the autumn of 1757, Grey has joined Stephan von Namtzen's regiment in Prussia, where he serves as a liaison officer. While there, rumors of a succubus emerge, leading Grey to investigate the deaths of British and Prussian soldiers. During his time in Prussia, Grey's friendship with von Namtzen grows, and he continues to speculate about the German's sexuality.

In January 1758, having returned to London, Grey meets General Sir George Stanley, his mother's fiancé, and, formally, Percy Wainwright, Stanley's stepson from his second marriage. Grey and Wainwright become romantically involved, despite Grey's continued feelings for Jamie Fraser. Wainwright also joins the 46th Regiment, which is assigned to fight under Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick in the Rhine Valley during 1758. While in the Rhine Valley, Wainwright is caught in flagrante delicto with another man, by Grey and two other soldiers. In the aftermath, the man is then discreetly shot by his commanding officer, Captain von Namtzen, while Wainwright is arrested and sent back to London to await a court-martial. Before returning to London, Grey fights at the Battle of Crefeld on 23 June 1758, where he takes charge of a gun crew that has lost its commanding officer. During the battle, the cannon blows up, severely injuring Grey. Once back in London and on the mend, Grey arranges to have Wainwright escape from prison and flee to Ireland. He also discovers the identity of his father's murderer, and clears his family's once-tarnished name. It is during the course of this novel that Geneva Dunsany gives birth to a son, William Ransom, shortly before both she and her husband die.

In November 1758, months after the Battle of Crefeld, a Royal Commission of Inquiry is convened to investigate the cannon that blew up under Grey's command. Grey is called to stand before a tribunal led by Colonel Reginald Twelvetrees during the investigation, the accusations of which lead him to investigate the matter himself.

While at an electric eel party in 1759, Grey enters into a duel, which ends in the death of the other man. In order to avoid the ensuing scandal, and the demand that he marry the woman in whose name the duel took place, Grey flees London for Canada, on the grounds of appearing as a character witness for his friend and former-lover, Charlie Carruthers. While in Canada, Grey joins General Wolfe's forces during the siege of Quebec, and partakes in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. He also takes a two-week fishing trip with an Indian guide, Manoke, who becomes his lover. It is at this point that he is officially made a Lieutenant Colonel in the army, because of his involvement in the Battle of Crefeld.

After returning to England, Grey receives a package in April 1760 which contains documents that once belonged to Carruthers, which explicitly detail the illegal actions of an English soldier. Grey must embark upon a mission to arrest him and return him to England to face a court martial, a course of action which requires the assistance of Jamie Fraser and a trip to Ireland. During the course of the novel, Grey pieces together the relationship between Fraser and William Ransom, while he and Fraser begin to rebuild their friendship. It is also during this novel that Grey enters into a duel with Edward Twelvetrees, whom he kills.

In June 1761, Grey has traveled to Jamaica in response to a plea for help from the island's governor. There, Grey investigates a slave rebellion and the rumors of zombies.


John is described by Claire as a sensitive, kindly, and honorable man.

Physical AppearanceEdit

Lord John is described as a man of slight build and shorter-than-average height (about 5'6"), with thick blond hair and large, long-lashed, light blue eyes. Several characters observe that his features, of fine bones and fair skin, are "saved from girlishness only by the firm set of mouth and jaw".[3] John has observed to himself that his beard grows in nearly the same color as his hair, but thick as well, and he keeps his face clean-shaven as a rule. He declines to wear a wig, preferring to wear his own hair, though this is usually bound back to combat its naturally wavy unruliness.


Lord John places great value in his relationships, from those with family and friends, to his more intimate sexual relationships.


  • John is the English form of Iohannes, the Latin form of the Greek name Ιωαννης (Ioannes), itself derived from the Hebrew name יוֹחָנָן (Yochanan) meaning "YAHWEH is gracious".[4]
  • William comes from the Germanic name Willahelm, which was composed of the elements wil "will, desire" and helm "helmet, protection".[5]
  • Bertram is derived from the Germanic element beraht "bright" combined with hramn "raven" to result in the meaning "bright raven".[6]
  • Armstrong comes from the Old English earm and strang, meaning "strong arm".[7]
  • Grey has two possible origins: 1) an Anglo-Saxon, Old English nickname for someone with grey hair or a grey beard, derived from the Old English pre 7th Century word "graeg", grey; 2) from the place called "Graye" in Calvados, Normandy, so called from the Old Gallo-Roman personal name "Gratus" meaning "Welcome" or "Pleasing", with the suffix "acum" meaning settlement or village.[8]


  • In Dragonfly in Amber, sixteen year old Lord John gives his name as 'William Grey' when captured by Jamie during a botched rescue attempt. Diana explains in The Outlandish Companion that while writing Voyager, there were too many Williams to keep track of in a small space, and she decided to make 'William' Lord John's middle name. (In the canon, it makes sense that Lord John would use an alias; he also attempts to hide his privileged status by adopting a Hampshire accent.[9])
  • Lord John appears "in person" in 14 of Diana Gabaldon's published works, more than any other character. Jamie Fraser appears in 12, while Claire Fraser and Roger MacKenzie each appear in 9.
  • In 1746 John was attacked in the army's camp and raped. He never tells anyone but began carrying a dagger on him at all times. He considers it to be his lucky dagger during many adventures in the future.

TV SeriesEdit

Main article: Outlander (TV series)

English actor Oscar Kennedy portrays sixteen-year-old Lord John (using the alias "William Grey") on the Outlander television adaptation.[10]




  1. Age as of the end of Written in My Own Heart's Blood.
  2. Courtesy title only; appropriate to the younger son of a duke.
  3. Drums of Autumn, Chapter 58
  4. Behind the Name: John – accessed 19 June 2014
  5. Behind the Name: William – accessed 17 March 2014
  6. Behind the Name: Bertram – accessed 10 May 2016
  7. Behind the Name Surnames: Armstrong – accessed 10 May 2016
  8. The Internet Surname Database – accessed 19 June 2014
  9. Lord John and his accent – Compuserve, 27 May 2009
  10. Outlander Starz Twitter – Oscar Kennedy Casting Announcement, November 16, 2015

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