|“||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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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".
- William comes from the Germanic name Willahelm, which was composed of the elements wil "will, desire" and helm "helmet, protection".
- Bertram is derived from the Germanic element beraht "bright" combined with hramn "raven" to result in the meaning "bright raven".
- Armstrong comes from the Old English earm and strang, meaning "strong arm".
- 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. (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.)
- 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.
- Main article: Outlander (TV series)
- 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.
- ↑ Age as of the end of Written in My Own Heart's Blood.
- ↑ Courtesy title only; appropriate to the younger son of a duke.
- ↑ Drums of Autumn, Chapter 58
- ↑ Behind the Name: John – accessed 19 June 2014
- ↑ Behind the Name: William – accessed 17 March 2014
- ↑ Behind the Name: Bertram – accessed 10 May 2016
- ↑ Behind the Name Surnames: Armstrong – accessed 10 May 2016
- ↑ The Internet Surname Database – accessed 19 June 2014
- ↑ Lord John and his accent – Compuserve, 27 May 2009
- ↑ Outlander Starz Twitter – Oscar Kennedy Casting Announcement, November 16, 2015