Outlander Wiki

Lord John Grey

273pages on
this wiki
John William Bertram Armstrong Grey
Biographical information

June 1729 (age 49)[1]

Marital status


Also known as

William Grey


Lord John

Physical information




Hair color


Eye color

Light blue

Skin color


Family information
  • Soldier
  • Diplomat
  • Governor




Book appearances

Dragonfly in Amber
Drums of Autumn
A Breath of Snow and Ashes
An Echo in the Bone
Written in My Own Heart's Blood
Lord John and the Hellfire Club
Lord John and the Private Matter
Lord John and the Succubus
Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade
Lord John and the Haunted Soldier
The Custom of the Army
The Scottish Prisoner
Lord John and the Plague of Zombies

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 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 Club, 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, his brother having received an identical one 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 under the suspicion of having been a Jacobite supporter and thus his death was seen as proof of such. The family was dishonoured 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 second title, the Earl of Melton, rather than take on one that was associated with such a scandal. As the head of the family, Melton was able to push his will onto his mother, who became known as the Dowager Countess, but not Grey, who insisted on being called Lord John, as befitting a duke's younger son, instead of the Honourable John, as befitting an earl'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.

Introduction in the Outlander SeriesEdit

In September of 1745, Grey is introduced as a sixteen-year-old member of the 46th Regiment, which his brother, Lord Melton, had raised in order to restore his family's honor and prove that they were not Jacobite supporters. Acting as a forager and scout, Grey encounters Jamie and Claire Fraser near Carryarick, assuming that he was witnessing the notorious Red Jamie Fraser with an abducted English woman. Honor drives him to attempt to save her and capture Fraser, leading to a rather dismal failure. For a time Grey would be thoroughly ridiculed by his regiment and others who heard the tale. Grey's brother would later forbid his joining in the final battle at Culloden, though Grey rejoined his regiment afterward to administer the coup de grâce to any Scots left alive on the field.

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. One of the prisoners under his care is Jamie Fraser, who has easily assumed a leadership role amongst the other prisoners. At the suggestion of his predecessor, Grey begins to have regular dinners with Fraser to discuss prison matters. Eventually the two strike up a tenuous friendship, with Grey developing a great, albeit unrequited, love for the other man. Upon the completion of the fortress renovations at Ardsmuir, Grey is charged with transporting the prisoners to the American colonies; however, in the case of Fraser he makes an exception, instead arranging to have him paroled at Helwater where Grey's family friends, the Dunsanys, live. Throughout Jamie's parole, Lord John visits Helwater periodically to ensure his welfare.

The Lord John SeriesEdit

"Lord John and the Hellfire Club"

After returning to London from Ardsmuir in the autumn of 1756, Grey becomes caught up in the investigation of the death of Robert Gerald, a cousin-by-marriage to Harry Quarry. Grey met Gerald early on the night of his death, and was so shocked by it that he vowed to find Gerald's murderer. His investigation leads him to a meeting of the Hellfire Club, to which he is invited by his former lover, George Everett. There, he discovers that Everett was Gerald's killer.

Lord John and the Private Matter

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, Stephen 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.

"Lord John and the Succubus"

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.

Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade

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, 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 uncovers 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.

"Lord John and the Haunted Soldier"

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.

"The Custom of the Army"

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.

The Scottish Prisoner

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.

"Lord John and the Plague of Zombies"

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.

Further Outlander Series AppearancesEdit

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 the autumn of 1769, 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.

-- Event summary for Lord John in A Breath in Snow and Ashes --

-- Event summary for Lord John in A Echo in the Bone --

-- Event summary for Lord John in Written in My Own Heart's Blood --


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"[2]. 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".[3]
  • 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.[4]


  • 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.



  1. Age as of the end of Written in My Own Heart's Blood.
  2. Drums of Autumn, Chapter 58
  3. – accessed 19 June 2014
  4. The Internet Surname Database – accessed 19 June 2014

Around Wikia's network

Random Wiki