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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, 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.

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.

In September 1764, Lord John tells Jamie he will marry Isobel Dunsany and become William's stepfather. Jamie offers his body to Lord John, who declines. Jamie kisses him.

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 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

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.

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.


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.

Hal Grey

John's relationship with his brother, Hal, is one of great trust and respect. The brothers lost their father when John was still a boy; consequently, Hal acts as a fatherly elder brother, looking after John while helping him make his own way. After their father's death, John lived away from home and Hal for two years, staying with his mother's people in Aberdeen. Even after John had returned to England, the brothers did not interact much, as Hal was busy building up the regiment. During the campaign against the Scottish Jacobites in 1745-6, John accompanied Hal and his regiment to the Highlands, where John had his first taste of military life and warfare. It was there, after the Battle of Culloden and the death of John's friend and lover, Hector, that Hal explained that John must see his friend's body, in order to accept his death, grieve him, and move on.

John took up his commission with Hal's regiment, the 46th, and since then the brothers have grown closer, sharing their talent for soldiering.

On the matter of John's sexuality, Gabaldon has suggested that Hal almost certainly knows of John's preference for men, but that the brothers would never speak of it. She has hinted that even if Hal wasn't directly responsible for John's exile to Ardsmuir (in the wake of a near-scandal involving George Everett), he almost certainly had a hand in it.[4]

Harry Quarry

It is suggested that Harry Quarry is a longtime friend of the Grey family[5] (John recalls seeing Quarry at his father's funeral), but Grey apparently first meets him in Ardsmuir, Scotland, having arrived to replace the colonel as Governor of the prison. Quarry teases Grey subtly, knowing the embarrassment that the young Major suffered at the hands of Jamie Fraser before the Battle of Prestonpans, but otherwise briefs Grey on the running of the prison and imparts some advice regarding its inmates.

After Grey leaves Ardsmuir and returns to London, he is at first reluctant to interact with Quarry, but reminds himself that the Colonel is the only man with whom he shares the experience of Ardsmuir, and thus agrees to dine with him at the Beefsteak, of which they are both members. Shortly thereafter, the affair of the Hellfire Club, during which Quarry saves Grey's life, cements the camaraderie between the two. They frequently work together to solve various mysteries that crop up around London and the regiment.

Hector Dalrymple

Hector was Grey's first love, a twenty-year-old lieutenant in the 46th Regiment. He was the son of Lady Mumford and her late husband. Grey's attempts to capture Jamie Fraser prior to the Battle of Prestonpans were done in part to impress Hector, who in turn was one of the few people who didn't mock him for his own capture. Hector died during the Battle of Culloden, and his death haunted Grey for some years afterwards.

George Everett

In the years following Hector's death, Grey became acquainted with George Everett. He introduced Grey to Lavender House, and during that time the two developed a sexual relationship. Gabaldon has confirmed that Everett was involved in the near-scandal that sent Grey to Ardsmuir in 1755, but only to the extent that "there was a near-scandal, and it involved George Everett".[6] 

They meet again when Grey returns to London after his turn as prison governor, and discuss the Hellfire Club whilst staying at Medmenham Abbey along with the club's other members. It is here that Grey reveals to Everett that he knows Everett was responsible for Robert Gerald's murder, and consequently Everett attempts to kill Grey. He comes close, but is killed by Harry Quarry before he can succeed.

Jamie Fraser

After his first encounter with Jamie Fraser in the Carryarick Pass, which continues to be a source of mortification to Grey, he does not meet the man again until he is appointed the new governor of Ardsmuir Prison, where Fraser is a captive of war, though still a natural leader among the other Jacobite prisoners. Though they develop a mutual liking for one another through their monthly discussions of literature and chess matches, Grey's feelings far surpass those of a friend, let alone a soldier's for his prisoner, and makes the mistake of acting on his attraction. Fraser rejects him completely, and their relationship is shattered.

When Grey arranges for Fraser to serve his parole in England, rather than be transported to the colonies, Fraser is deeply suspicious and refuses to interact with Grey beyond the barest minimum. Still, Grey returns to London and does his best not to think of Jamie Fraser, with varying degrees of success. Upon receiving word of Geneva Dunsany's death in childbirth in early 1758, Grey travels to Helwater to pay his respects, and draws certain conclusions when he notices Fraser's thinly veiled grief.

On another visit, while in pursuit of information about extant Jacobites, Grey also asks Fraser's advice on the matter of his step-brother – and lover – Percy Wainwright, who faces court-martial and possible execution for the crime of sodomy. Grey's sense of honor, he explains, could not abide his allowing Wainwright to be punished for a crime he, Grey, is also guilty of. Fraser, disgusted by this revelation, scornfully dismisses Grey's dilemma along with the notion that men can love each other, as a man may love a woman. After Fraser suggests that Grey's predilections extend to molesting young boys as well, Grey swears he would challenge Fraser to answer for that were the other man armed. Fraser retorts that Grey could not master him, and, furious, Grey assures Fraser that, should he wish it, he could take Fraser to his bed and make him scream. Fraser's reaction is instantaneous and violent; Grey dodges the blow and escapes, though not before seeing in Fraser a devastating vulnerability, and realizes that Fraser must have been victim to some similar threat, and worse.

Grey does not see Fraser again for nearly two years. In spring of 1760, Grey's brother Hal summons Fraser to London for his assistance in deciphering a message written in Erse, a then-common term for the Gaelic language.

In September 1764, Lord John tells Jamie he will marry Isobel Dunsany and become William's stepfather. Jamie offers his body to Lord John, who declines. Jamie kisses him.

In February 1767, At the governor's mansion, Claire sees Jamie leave the main event to speak privately with Lord John Grey, where Lord John gives him a portrait of young William, and is shocked to see the latter's look of longing toward Jamie as they embrace.

While traveling during October 1768, to John's late wife Isobel's plantation Mount Josiah in Virginia, John makes the side trip with William to Fraser's Ridge wanting Jamie to have a chance to see his son in person.

in 1769 when John receives word from Jamie that he is in search of a man named Roger Wakefield John utilizes his connections to help find the man. Which is search brings him to River Run where he meets Jamie's daughter Brianna and despite her attempt to blackmail him into standing in as her fiancee he agrees out of a sense of duty to Jamie.

John maintains a correspondence with Jamie, helping him whenever and however he can be it looking for Stephen Bonnet, sending advanced funds based on sales of gems, obtaining various objects such as oil of vitriol for Claire or white phosphorous for Brianna.

Even when it starts become clear that as the rebellion is turning into a full blow war John and Jamie will be on opposite sides there is little that John wouldn't do for Jamie. In July 1776, without hesitation, when Jamie says he is in need of gemstones John gives him the sapphire ring that once belonged to his first love Hector. And when his step-brother/ex-lover Percy Wainwright brings up Jamie and William John is quick to tell him to stay away from them both.

In April 1778 when he received word that the Euterpe sank with Jamie on it it truly broke John's heart. In his mourning he still did, what he thought would be, one final service to Jamie by protecting his wife and family from Captain Richardson by marrying Claire.

Stephan von Namtzen

Lord John first meets Stephan von Namtzen, a Hanoverian captain, in London at one of his mother's musicales. His first impression of the German is that he is loud and uncouth, but it is improved by later events, in which von Namtzen assists Grey in the pursuit of the man who poisoned him, as well as the truth about a matter which may have deadly consequences for the army. These finally being resolved, von Namtzen invites Grey to be seconded to von Namtzen's regiment in Prussia. There the two men become friends, and Grey suspects that the German may be inclined to more than that in their relationship, but does not act on it.

While in Prussia on a later campaign, Grey hears that von Namtzen suffered an accident which resulted in the amputation of one of his arms. Grey next visits the Hanoverian at the latter's hunting lodge, a place called Waldesruhe, while recovering from an injury sustained during battle, only to find that Stephan has taken to engaging in dangerous enterprises – much to the horror of his servants. Grey talks to Stephan about the incident involving Percy Wainwright and one of von Namtzen's Hanoverian officers, which leads to talk of stories about King Friedrich's male lover. After, Grey asks to see the stump of Stephan's left arm, and kisses it. Though the moment is intimate, and Grey feels more certain about Stephan's personal inclinations, he decides not to act further, having realized that Stephan's state of mind is still fragile and not up to the task of acknowledging that part of himself.

Grey next sees von Namtzen, again in London, in 1760, while the Hanoverian is in town to place his children with his sister after the death of his wife. When they retire together to Stephan's rooms, Stephan makes the first move on Grey, and they have sex.

Percy Wainwright

Grey briefly meets Percy Wainwright in a London club for gay men, Lavender House, in June 1757. They meet again in January 1758, learning that they will become brothers by marriage, as Percy's step-father is to marry Benedicta Grey. Grey and Percy become close friends and lovers, and Percy joins Major Grey's regiment as a lieutenant.

In spring of 1758, they go with the army to Prussia, where Percy is caught having sex with a German soldier by Grey and two other witnesses. Percy is arrested for sodomy and awaits court-martial.

Hurt and angry with Percy's recklessness, but also worried for him, Grey visits Percy in prison. Percy tells Grey that he loved him, but his feelings weren't be reciprocated, as Grey is still in love with another man (Fraser), and asks Grey to save his life for the sake of kindness that was between them. Grey is expected to testify against Percy, and knows that lying before the court-martial would destroy his reputation. However, he realizes that he cannot let Percy be hanged for a crime that Grey is also guilty of, but was simply never caught, and decides to help Percy escape from prison and flee the country.

Grey meets Percy again in July 1776 in Wilmington in North Carolina. Percy is now a French spy and uses the name Beauchamp, having married Cecile Beauchamp, one of the sisters of Baron Amandine. Percy wants Grey to convey an offer to the British government. He also mentions Jamie Fraser and Grey's stepson William in the conversation, and Grey asks him to stay away from him and his son – he clearly doesn't trust Percy.

In July 1777, Grey meets Percy in Philadelphia, and Percy tells him that he believes Baron Amandine's sister and Comte St. Germain were Fergus's parents.

In late June 1778, Percy warns Grey that Captain Richardson poses danger to William.

Charlie Carruthers

Grey and Charlie Carruthers were both young officers in different regiments. They fought together in Scotland. In the years following Hector's death, when Grey was trying to numb the pain with sex, they had a few brief encounters.

In spring of 1759, Grey receives a letter requesting his presence as Carruthers's character witness at a court-martial in Canada, due to Carruthers being charged with failure to suppress a mutiny. Grey arrives in Canada and finds Carruthers in ill health—he dies before the date for court-martial is set, and Grey burns his body and scatters his ashes.

Grey meets Manoke, an Indian scout working for the English army, when he arrives in Canada to testify at Charlie Carruthers's court-martial in 1759. Manoke is described as amused with Grey's appearance; he calls him "Englishman" and often smiles at him. One morning, Grey wakes up and finds Manoke lying on his bed, and the Indian kisses him and leaves. Having some time to kill, as the date of the court-martial hasn't been set, Grey joins Manoke on a two-week fishing expedition during which they become lovers.

In 1778, Grey tells Claire Fraser that he has for many years enjoyed a physical relationship with Manoke, who works as his cook at Mount Josiah plantation in Virginia. There is true liking between him and the Indian, but no sense of possession – Grey compares Manoke to a beautiful deer that comes to his plantation from time to time, and says that its coming is a gift, but when the deer leaves, there is no sense of abandonment.

Claire Fraser

During the Jacobite Rising of 1745, Grey's brother Hal takes his regiment to Scotland, and sixteen-year-old John goes with him. In September 1745, while scouting for the British army, Grey comes across a band of Scots, lead by notorious rebel Red Jamie Fraser. Grey notices an English lady among them and thinks that she is being held against her will, so he attacks Fraser, but is overpowered. Fraser then takes advantage of Grey's chivalry and forces him to reveal the location of his regiment by threatening the lady, who turns out to be Fraser's own wife Claire.

Between 1755 and 1756, Grey is the governor of Ardsmuir Prison and befriends Jamie Fraser, who is one of the prisoners. Grey eventually falls in love with Jamie and sometimes thinks about Jamie's dead wife, usually with feelings of jealousy and mild dislike, mostly referring to her as "the woman."

Grey meets Claire for the second time in early 1767, during an outbreak of typhoid fever aboard the Porpoise, a ship carrying Grey—the new governor of Jamaica—to West Indies. Claire uses the name Mrs. Malcolm and Grey doesn't recognize her, thinking that Fraser's wife is long dead. However, he respects Mrs. Malcolm's efforts to stop the plague.

Several days later, Jamie and Claire attend Lord John's reception in Jamaica, and Grey is shocked to learn that Jamie's wife is still alive. Later in the evening, Claire witnesses Jamie and Grey embracing and realizes that Grey has feelings for her husband. Grey explains to her how he and Jamie became friends, and that he is the stepfather of Jamie's illegitimate son William.

In October 1768, Lord John brings William to the Fraser's Ridge and contracts measles. While Jamie takes William for a trip to shelter the boy from illness, Claire treats Lord John. Although she is initially jealous of Jamie, in the course of a few days spent together, she and John form something of a bond. Grey tells Claire that he has often wondered what Jamie had seen in her, and that she has Jamie's courage.

In March 1770, Grey meets Brianna Fraser, Claire and Jamie's pregnant daughter, in River Run. They become friends and get conspicuously engaged to protect Brianna from other suitors. Grey tells Brianna that he has feelings of affection for her mother, and Brianna says that Claire considers Grey a good man and likes him.

Upon the Frasers' return in May, Claire is grateful to Lord John for looking after their daughter in their absence.

In September 1773, John sends Claire a gift of handcrafted glass globes and oil of vitriol for producing ether.

In July 1777, John writes a letter to Jamie in which he asks Claire to come to Philadelphia to perform a surgery on his wounded nephew Henry Grey. However, he is unaware that the Frasers have already left the Ridge.

In April 1778, Claire arrives in Philadelphia where she is to operate on her grandson. In order to make ether for the surgery, she requires oil of vitriol and learns that Lord John Grey purchased a quantity of it several months earlier. Claire pays Grey a visit and Grey reveals that he bought the vitriol for her, hoping that she would operate on his nephew. They strike a bargain.

Several days later, Lord John receives news that the ship supposedly carrying Jamie to America has sunk. Grey also encounters Captain Richardson who intends to arrest Claire for spying. Grey asks Claire to marry him in order to protect her, and she agrees. During their marriage, Claire and John become intimate, and there is mutual respect and kindness between them. One night, they are both very drunk, mourning Jamie, and have sex.

In mid-June 1778, Jamie arrives at Lord John's house, very much alive, making John's marriage to Claire invalid. Both John and Claire are overjoyed by Jamie's appearance, and a little relieved that they are no longer married to each other. Hours later, Grey is beaten up by Jamie for—among other things—sleeping with Claire. When Claire and John meet again after a few days, she takes care of his swollen eye. On June 28, 1778, Claire is shot during the Battle of Monmouth, and John visits her a few days later.

In January 1779, Claire learns from Richardson that he manipulated Grey into marrying her, hoping that Claire would become his asset and spy on Lord John and his brother Hal.

Richardson also makes it clear that he is aware of Lord John's homosexuality, and Claire warns Grey.


  • 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".[7]
  • William comes from the Germanic name Willahelm, which was composed of the elements wil "will, desire" and helm "helmet, protection".[8]
  • Bertram is derived from the Germanic element beraht "bright" combined with hramn "raven" to result in the meaning "bright raven".[9]
  • Armstrong comes from the Old English earm and strang, meaning "strong arm".[10]
  • 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.[11]


  • 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.[12])
  • 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.

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.[13]



  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. Gabaldon on Lord John's homosexuality – Compuserve, 27 March 2010
  5. Gabaldon responds to a question regarding Lord John and Harry Quarry – Compuserve, 28 November 2007
  6. Gabaldon on the scandal that sent Lord John to Ardsmuir – Compuserve, 9 January 2006
  7. Behind the Name: John – accessed 19 June 2014
  8. Behind the Name: William – accessed 17 March 2014
  9. Behind the Name: Bertram – accessed 10 May 2016
  10. Behind the Name Surnames: Armstrong – accessed 10 May 2016
  11. The Internet Surname Database – accessed 19 June 2014
  12. Lord John and his accent – Compuserve, 27 May 2009
  13. Outlander Starz Twitter – Oscar Kennedy Casting Announcement, November 16, 2015

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