|“||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
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.
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 --
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". 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".
- 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.
- 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.
- Lord John Grey Chronology -- No Spoilers — Compiled by Rory Pascual. This listing compiles all of Lord John's appearances in both the Lord John series and the Outlander series, in order of occurrence and with chapters listed. This list does not contain spoilers.
- Lord John Grey Chronology -- Minor Spoilers — Same as above, though with brief descriptions of what occurs in each particular scene.
- Chronology/Timeline/Character List for Lord John's Stories — Compiled by Multimedea on Archive of Our Own. Detailed lists of characters and events pertinent to the Lord John Series and the man himself.