Lord John Grey is an English soldier and diplomat. At age sixteen, he meets the infamous Jamie Fraser before the Battle of Prestonpans, and the two do not meet again until he becomes the governor of Ardsmuir, a Scottish prison. They form a tenuous friendship, which soon becomes complicated by the fact that Lord John has fallen in love with Jamie.
Lord John is a main character in the Outlander novels and the protagonist of a subseries of historical mysteries, the Lord John novels and novellas. The Lord John stories take place during the period of time that Jamie is paroled at Helwater.
John William Bertram Armstrong Grey was born 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, from his parents' marriage, and Paul and Edgar DeVane, half-brothers from his mother's first marriage. Hal is about nine years older than John, and although it is unclear just how much older John's half-brothers are, John was about ten when Edgar married.
Grey is a fine swordsman, having first begun lessons 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. He was enrolled for The Society for the Appreciation of the English Beefsteak, a gentlemen'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.
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 was done for his own protection.
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.
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 to pass through the stones, and Grey gives him his gold ring set with a sapphire – Hector's ring.
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, Lord John journeys to Jamaica in response to a plea for help from the island's governor. Upon his arrival, Lord John learns of the murder of a local planter, one Mr. Abernathy of Rose Hall, and the maroons are the suspected culprit. He also has to deal with the matter of a missing superintendent, snakes mysteriously invading the governor's house, and another grisly murder, possibly involving zombies. In the course of his investigation, John meets the widow Abernathy and Philip Twelvetrees, cousin of Edward Twelvetrees, whom John killed the year before.
|“||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.||”|
John is described by Claire as a sensitive, kindly, and honorable man, and in fact values his honor above nearly all other things in life. He is known, however, to behave rashly on occasion, and he is a fierce commander on the battlefield.
As a closeted homosexual, during a time when sodomy was a crime punishable by death, John is adept at schooling his features and behavior in order to conceal his attraction to men. In turn, he is skilled at detecting the most subtle changes in the demeanor and expression of others.
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.
After a lifetime of soldiering, John has numerous scars on his body, including several crisscrossed over his left breast, a jagged one down his left forearm, and a deep one across the top of one thigh.
It is suggested that Harry Quarry is a longtime friend of the Grey family (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 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.
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".
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.
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.
- 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 16 of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander-related works, more than any other character. Jamie Fraser appears in 14, while Claire Fraser appears in 10.
- 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.
Australian actor David Berry portrays Lord John Grey as an adult in Season Three of the Outlander television adaptation. English actor Oscar Kennedy portrayed sixteen-year-old Lord John (using the alias "William Grey") in Season Two of the series.
- Je Suis Prest (Oscar Kennedy)
- 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.
- ↑ Gabaldon, Diana. "David Berry as Lord John Grey!." MSG: 86983.84. Diana Gabaldon. Books and Writers Community. Compuserve. Published 30 August 2016. Accessed 1 December 2017.
- ↑ Age as of the end of Written in My Own Heart's Blood.
- ↑ He is never called "Lord Grey".
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 David Berry, the actor who portrays Lord John in the TV series, is 6'1" and has brown hair. In the books, John is blond and slightly shorter than average.
- ↑ Drums of Autumn, Chapter 58
- ↑ An Echo in the Bone, chapter 95.
- ↑ Gabaldon, Diana. "The Custom of the Army (SPOILERS!)." MSG: 66876.109. Diana Gabaldon. Books and Writers Community. Compuserve. Published 27 March 2010. Accessed 18 July 2016.
- ↑ Gabaldon, Diana. "BOTB Question." MSG: 58071.7. Diana Gabaldon. Books and Writers Community. Compuserve. Published 28 November 2007. Accessed 18 July 2016.
- ↑ Gabaldon, Diana. "questions - SPOILER alert." MSG: 49955.220. Diana Gabaldon. Books and Writers Community. Compuserve. Published 9 January 2006. Accessed 18 July 2016.
- ↑ 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
- ↑ Gabaldon, Diana. "LJG and his accent." MSG: 63980.11. Diana Gabaldon. Books and Writers Community. Compuserve. Published 27 May 2009. Accessed 1 December 2017.
- ↑ Outlander finds its Lord John Grey — exclusive – August 29, 2016.
- ↑ Outlander Starz Twitter – Oscar Kennedy Casting Announcement, November 16, 2015