Denys Randall-Isaacs is the son of Mary Hawkins and Alexander Randall. He was conceived out of wedlock, but Mary married Jonathan Randall before his birth, legitimizing him. After her husband's death, Mary wed Robert Isaacs, and Denys took his step-father's name.

Personal History

Denys was born to a widowed mother, Mary Randall, his putative father having been killed during the Battle of Culloden. About a year later, his mother married Robert Isaacs, a Jewish merchant in Bristol (as of 1777).

Events of the Novels

An Echo in the Bone

In October 1776, Captain Randall-Isaacs is joined by Lieutenant William Ransom for an intelligencing expedition to Quebec, Canada. In late December, he leaves William with a note saying that he had urgent business and William is to await either his return or new orders. Meanwhile, William's stepfather Lord John Grey learns in London that Randall-Isaacs is an associate of Percy Beauchamp and is worried about William being in Randall-Isaacs's company.

Written in My Own Heart's Blood

Randall meets William Ransom again in June 1778, during the British army's exodus from Philadelphia. He informs William that he dropped "Isaacs" from his name after his stepfather died, and advises William to avoid Captain Richardson.


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“Just the sort of genial, unremarkable fellow you found in any regiment: about thirty, decent with cards, ready with a joke(...)reliable(...)a very pleasant traveling companion. (...) What he didn’t do was talk about himself.”

William on Randall-Isaacs in An Echo In The Bone

Physical Appearance

Denys is a slender, good-looking man who is graceful of movement, with a constant expression of sympathetic geniality. He wears his dark hair tied back without powder


  • Denys is a medieval French form of Dionysius[2][3] which is ultimately derived from the name of the Greek god Dionysos[4] from Greek Διος (Dios) meaning "of Zeus" combined with Nysa, the name of the region where young Dionysos was said to have been raised.[5]
  • Alexander is the Latinized form of the Greek name Αλεξανδρος (Alexandros), which meant "defending men".[6]
  • Randall derives from the given name Randel, which is a medieval diminutive form of names (e.g. Randolf) beginning with the Germanic element rand meaning "rim (of a shield)".[7]
  • Isaacs is of Anglo-Saxon origin from the Biblical Hebrew personal name yishaq, "he laughs".[8][9]



  1. Gabaldon, Diana. "Emergency Nit-Pickers." MSG: 80143.161. Diana Gabaldon. Books and Writers Community. Compuserve. Published 21 March 2014. Accessed 1 December 2017. 
  2. Behind the Name: Denis – accessed 15 June 2016
  3. Behind the Name: Dionysius – accessed 15 June 2016
  4. Behind the Name: Dionysios – accessed 15 June 2016
  5. Behind the Name: Dionysos – accessed 15 June 2016
  6. Behind the Name: Alexander – accessed 8 April 2015.
  7. Behind the Name: Randel – accessed 28 September 2014.
  8. House of Names: Isaacs – accessed 15 June 2016.
  9. Surname: Isaac – accessed 15 June 2016.