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Mercy Woodcock is a married African woman who nurses Henry Grey after he is wounded, and develops feelings for him.

Personal History[]

Mercy Woodcock is the wife of Walter Woodcock, who is a carpenter and an American rebel, away with the Continental army. Mrs. Woodcock lives in a commodious house in Germantown, Philadelphia.

Events of the Novels[]

An Echo in the Bone[]

In late 1776, British officer Henry Grey is wounded and captured by the rebels. He can't eat, as there are bits of metal in his abdomen that surgeons have been unable to extract. The local prison officer is worried that a potentially lucrative prisoner might die, and moves Henry to Mercy Woodcock's house. Mrs. Woodcock nurses Henry and a romantic feeling between them develops.

In June 1777, Henry's uncle Lord John Grey and his sister Dottie arrive in Philadelphia. While visiting Henry, Lord John notices the nature of Henry and Mercy's relationship. He is worried that if Mercy becomes a widow, Henry might want to marry her, which would cause a family scandal.

Meanwhile, Walter Woodcock's leg is amputated following the siege of Fort Ticonderoga in early July 1777. He and Claire Fraser are taken prisoner by the British, and the last time Claire sees him, Walter is barely alive.

At Christmas, Dr. Hunter operates on Henry at Mercy Woodcock's house.

In April 1778, Claire Fraser performs the final surgery on Henry, during which Mrs. Woodcock administers the ether.

Written in My Own Heart's Blood[]

In August 1778, Henry and Mercy attend Dottie Grey's Quaker wedding together.


Physical Appearance[]

Mercy is a young African woman with a pretty face, neatly dressed.[1]


Walter Woodcock[]

Walter is Mercy's legal husband. After he joined the army she was left alone in Philadelphia. Walter was last seen during the siege of Fort Ticonderoga when his leg had to be amputated. However, he has not been reported dead and is at the moment considered missing in action. Making her still legally married rather than a widow.

Henry Grey[]

Following Henry's injury in battle and capture he was considered valuable as a prisoner given who his father is. As such he was given slightly better care than other prisoners. Henry came under Mercy's care and during this time they both formed an attraction and attachment to one another.

Their relationship is of course frowned upon. Not only because she is a African woman and Henry the son of a Duke, but because her husband is only missing in action and may still be alive so therefore she is still legally married. This does not stop Henry from bringing her with him to attend his sister Dorothea Grey's wedding.


  • Mercy is from the English word mercy, ultimately from Latin merces "wages, reward", a derivative of merx "goods, wares".[2]
  • Woodcock is derived from a nickname referring to the woodcock bird.[3]



  1. An Echo in the Bone, Chapter 48
  2. Behind the Name: Mercy - accessed 08 July 2016
  3. Behind the Name Surnames: Woodcock - accessed 08 July 2016