Around 1715, Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser attended the Gathering at Castle Leoch to try to woo the hand of Ellen MacKenzie. During the tynchal, he killed a wounded boar single-handed with a dagger and Colum MacKenzie gave him the tusks, which were nearly a perfect double circle. He had them turned into a set of bracelets that he gave to Ellen, though she had chosen to marry Brian Fraser.
When Jamie was a week old, Murtagh knelt at Ellen's feet and swore an oath to her that he would follow Jamie always, to do his bidding, and guard his back when he became a man and needed service.
When Jamie returned to Scotland, just prior to the opening events of Outlander, Murtagh joined Dougal MacKenzie's party as a way to keep Jamie safe. He is nearly always at Jamie's side and follows his chief to his own doom on the field of Culloden.
Claire first meets Murtagh as she is being assaulted by Captain Jonathan Randall. Murtagh overcomes Randall and whisks her away. When the Redcoats are nearby, Claire bites him, and he knocks her unconscious. Refusing to answer her questions, Murtagh takes her on horseback to a stone cottage where Dougal MacKenzie and his men along with a wounded Jamie Fraser are waiting for night to fall so they can make their escape. He tells Dougal where he found her and asserts his belief that Claire is not the whore Randall accused her of being.
Murtagh accompanies Dougal on his gathering of the rents as a way to keep an eye on Jamie. When Jamie gets into a fight with some of the tavern goes who are there to donate to the Stuart cause, Murtagh takes up bets and gives Jamie his share of the winnings. Later, he makes sure that Claire has a proper dress to wear for her wedding, and that she is made presentable despite her over-indulgence of whiskey the night before. Along with Dougal, he serves as a witness to the wedding. Later, Claire finds out that Murtagh, along with Rupert and Ned Gowan, gave Jamie advice on what to do on the wedding night, although some of it was wrong.
During the battle with the Grants, Jamie assigns Murtagh to protect Claire. Murtagh shoots a man during the fight which turns the tide. He and Jamie chase the raiders away. Later, while Rupert is teaching Claire how to fight with a dirk, Rupert uses Murtagh's skinny back as an illustration of where to stick the knife to get the best results.
Murtagh leaves with Jamie to go rescue Claire from the villagers of Cranesmuir, but his horse can't keep up with Jamie's. He meets up with Claire and Jamie at Lallybroch after fetching their belongings, including Claire's medicines from Castle Leoch. Claire asks how he managed, and he tells her that Mrs. Fitz had packed them away. When Claire teases him about his relationship with Mrs. Fitz, he tells her that her husband was his uncle, and that she was very upset over Claire's capture and accusation of being a witch. He said it was Mrs. Fitz, who first noticed Claire was gone and made Colum's life miserable when he took no action to save Claire.
When Jamie is captured by the Watch, Murtagh shows up at Claire and Jenny's campsite having been notified by Ian. Jenny leaves Claire in his care, so she can return to her nursing child. Before she leaves, Murtagh tells Jenny that she has a new kitchen maid, the Widow McNab. Claire realizes that it was the abusive Ronald MacNab who had betrayed Jamie to the Watch, and that he was now dead in revenge.
It is Murtagh's idea that as they search for Jamie, they travel openly as a way for Jamie, who had escaped the Watch, to find them. While Claire's reputation as a healer and fortune teller spreads, they go from tavern to tavern, and Claire reflects they work very well together despite their personality differences. He leaves word with gypsies of Jamie's description and days later one comes to fetch Claire, insisting that Murtagh stay behind. The gypsy takes Claire not to Jamie, but to Dougal, who attempts to seduce Claire, but Murtagh shows up just in time. Murtagh tells Dougal they need money and men to go rescue Jamie who was taken prisoner by the English to Wentworth Prison and is condemned to hang. Despite Dougal's belief that Jamie is doomed, he gives them money and allows Murtagh to ask for volunteers among his men. He convinces five men, including Rupert, to go with them.
At the prison, Claire asks Murtagh what if they can't rescue Jamie, and he tells her then Dougal will bury both of them on either side of Jamie. Murtagh, disguised as Claire's groom, escorts her inside the prison to meet with Sir Fletcher Gordon, the civilian governor of the prison. She pretends to be a friend of the family who requested her to visit with him. He doesn't allow a visit, but gives Claire Jamie's personal belongings and requests she return them to the family. She asks that she allow her groom to return later to fetch a letter of reconciliation to Jamie's family. He agrees, allowing Murtagh a way back into the prison.
After Murtagh is admitted, Claire shows up requesting to see the governor so that she may present him a gift. She arrives in time to see Murtagh dragging an unconscious guard, and she distracts her escort by dropping the brandy she brought. Inside the governor's office, he tells her the guard has a set of keys. When the escape attempt fails, he meets up with Claire at Sir Marcus MacRannoch's home Eldridge Manor, where he brought Claire after rescuing her from wolves in Eldridge Wood. He recognizes MacRannoch from the Gathering thirty years ago, when they both were at Leoch to woo Ellen MacKenzie. MacRannoch recognizes Claire's pearls as the set he gave to Ellen. He agrees to help them. Murtagh leads the men in using the stolen cattle as a distraction for Jamie's escape.
After they free Jamie from the prison, Jamie orders Murtagh to make sure to see Claire and him hidden if the English show up at Eldridge Hall, if there's time, but if not, he's to kill Jamie and get Claire away. He gives Claire a dagger. In the morning, Murtagh refuses Sir Marcus's offer to provide an escort, but does accept horses and provisions. Murtagh tries to con a patrol of English soldiers, but the encounter erupts into battle, where Claire is forced to kill a young soldier.
Murtagh arranges their passage on a ship bound for France, where Claire learns that Jamie suffers from extreme seasickness. Murtagh forces Jamie to take laudanum so that he'll survive the journey.
At the abbey, determined to die, Jamie orders Murtagh to take Claire back to Scotland and to the stones at Craigh na Dun. After Jamie's fever breaks, Murtagh is relieved to hear Jamie swearing behind a closed door after an argument with Claire. A day or two later, Murtagh informs Claire that Jamie is has "gone out", with an unknown destination and wardrobe, having declared he was tired of being confined indoors for so long.
Murtagh accompanies Claire and Jamie to Le Havre where they meet up with Jamie's uncle Jared Fraser and then later to Jared's home in Paris.
In Paris, Murtagh decides to find his own lodgings rather than stay in Jared Fraser's opulent home. He accompanies Jamie every day as he goes about Jared's business and makes trips across the channel to bring back large quantities of Scotch whisky, which they use to entertain the French nobility.
When Claire volunteers at L'Hôpital des Anges, Jamie orders Murtagh to go along as escort since the hospital is located in a bad neighborhood. Later, Jamie has Murtagh keep an eye on the Comte St. Germain.
One day after an accident sends many victims to the hospital, Claire sends Fergus to bring word she'll be late and he returns with Murtagh to escort her and Mary Hawkins home. Unable to find a coach, they begin to walk home, when they are attacked by masked men who appear to Claire to be aristocrats. Murtagh is knocked unconscious and bound, and Mary Hawkins is raped. Claire would have shared a similar fate, but the men recognize her as La Dame Blanche and they run away. They are rescued by Alexander Randall and then Jamie, who was summoned by Fergus.
Later, Murtagh hands Jamie his dirk and asks that Jamie, as his chief, take his life, as he had failed to protect Claire, their unborn child, and Mary Hawkins. Jamie tells him that it was treachery and there's no shame in falling during a fight. He also says that he is not Murtagh's chief, as his godfather has not made him an oath. Murtagh tells him he did when Jamie was a week old, that he had knelt at Ellen's feet and swore that he would always follow Jamie, to do his bidding and to guard his back when he became a man and needed such service. He tells Jamie that he is like a son to him, and now he feels shame for his betrayal of service. Jamie charges Murtagh with hunting down the men who did this and when found, to take vengeance for his wife's honor and the blood of Mary's innocence. Murtagh vows he will lay vengeance at the feet of his Laird.
Later, Jamie concocts a plan to sabotage the Comte St. Germain's cargo by having Murtagh take passage aboard and then pretend to have smallpox. Claire gives him medicine and instructions on how to use it. He's away when Jamie challenges Jonathan Randall to a duel and is not there to help Claire secure his release from the Bastille. She frees him in time, so he can go join Murtagh on the voyage, with Jamie acting ill since he was already sick from the sea. Murtagh protects Jamie from the seamen who want to throw him overboard. After, Jamie sends him back to Paris to repay his debts.
After Jamie and Claire reconcile, Murtagh accompanies them back to Lallybroch and then to join the rebellion when Prince Charles signs Jamie's name to a declaration of war. While on campaign, Murtagh arranges for Jamie and Claire to have a private tent. Before the Battle of Prestonpans, when Jamie captures Lord John Grey, who mistakenly thinks Claire is being held hostage by the Scots, Murtagh warns him that he had better arm himself with a dirk when Claire is untied. After Jamie whips the guardsmen who allowed Lord John to slip into their camp, Jamie asks Murtagh to whip him as punishment for his carelessness in setting an unshielded fire.
While in Edinburgh with Prince Charles, Murtagh often accompanies Claire as she makes her rounds through the city. Later, he journeys with Jamie and Claire to Beaufort to visit Jamie's grandfather, Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat ("the Old Fox"), to seek his help with the rebellion. He tells Claire that Jamie has never met his paternal grandfather. Jamie sends Murtagh to accompany Young Simon Fraser back to Edinburgh with Lord Lovat's men-at-arms while he and Claire return to Lallybroch. Murtagh races to fetch Jamie when he learns that Jamie's men have been arrested as deserters.
Back in Edinburgh, Claire gives money to Fergus to buy blankets for the men being held in the Tolbooth. Jamie, at Stirling Castle with Prince Charles, manages to secure a pardon for his men and Murtagh goes with Claire, who leads them.
After a skirmish at Falkirk, Claire is taken to the Duke of Sandringham's estate where she is reunited with Mary Hawkins, the Duke's goddaughter. The Duke is arranging a marriage for Mary. There Claire learns it was the Duke's valet, Albert Danton, who attacked them in Paris and raped Mary Hawkins, while under orders from the Duke to kill Claire. During Jamie's rescue of Claire and Mary, Murtagh kills and beheads the Duke and brings it with him while Jamie returns the body of Hugh Munro to his widow. Murtagh insists on Mary joining them inside the cottage, where he presents the head to Claire and Mary as proof of the vengeance he swore to give.
After Jamie kills Dougal MacKenzie, just before the Battle of Culloden, he asks Murtagh to sign the Deed of Sasine giving over Lallybroch to his nephew James Murray. He asks Murtagh to gather the men from Lallybroch and wait for him while he sees Claire safe.
Without knowing how or why, Jamie realizes, when he regains consciousness on the battlefield at Culloden, that Murtagh must be dead.
Twenty years later, when Claire has returned to him, Jamie tells her about how he found Murtagh, near death, though the man had enough strength left to say to Jamie, "Dinna be afraid, a bhalaich. It doesna hurt a bit to die."
Murtagh says very little and is one of those men who seem surprised that women have their own voices. He has said that he believes poison is the only suitable weapon for a woman. He is an honorable man and totally loyal to his godson Jamie. He works behind the scenes to help Jamie in his attempts at clearing his name. Claire trusts no one more than Murtagh when it comes to Jamie's welfare. He is fiercely protective of those he cares about, and if they are harmed, he will take revenge.
A rat-faced, little man, Murtagh is short, slightly built but sinewy as a gibbon, with long simian arms, and a low brow and narrow jaw that reminds Claire of the Picts. Although he doesn't speak much, Murtagh has a beautiful, clear, tenor voice. No matter how new or old his clothing may be, Murtagh always looks like he's salvaged his garments from a rubbish heap.
Murtagh is an anglicized form of either Muirchertach ("mariner" in Gaelic) or Muiredach ("lord" in Irish).
Fitzgibbons (alternatively Fitzgibbon) is derived from the name Gibb, a short form of the Norman personal name Gilbert. This name was originally derived from the name Gislebert, which is comprised of the Germanic elements gisil "hostage" or "noble youth," and berht "bright" or "famous." The name features the distinctive Irish patronymic prefix "fitz," which means "son of" in Anglo-French. The Gaelic form of the surname Fitzgibbon is Mac Giobúin.
Fraser may be derived from Fredarius, Fresel or Freseau. Another suggestion is that the Frasers were a tribe in Roman Gaul, whose badge was a strawberry plant.
↑Way, George and Squire, Romily. Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). Published in 1994. Pages 142 - 143.