Ned Gowan is a lawyer from Edinburgh who acts as a legal advisor to Clan MacKenzie.
Ned grew up in Edinburgh, where he completed his education and became a solicitor. However, he soon grew tired of the stability of a lawyer's life in the city, and decided to seek his adventures in the Highlands. It was while traveling on a road up north that he was set upon by Jacob MacKenzie, father of Colum and Dougal. After Jacob had robbed him, though, Ned made a perplexing request – to accompany his molester on the rest of his journey. Ned himself helped Jacob solidify his new position as laird of Castle Leoch, and stayed with the clan for many years after.
Events of the Novels
In 1743, Ned makes the acquaintance of Claire Beauchamp while they both accompany the MacKenzie rent-collecting party. Ned tells her the story of how he came to be associated with the MacKenzies, and his role in the MacKenzie succession of leadership after old Jacob MacKenzie's death. He also explains that his role on the rent-collecting mission is to manage the receipts for the rents and "perform such legal requirements" as may be required in the more far-flung reaches of the MacKenzie lands.
After a few weeks, when it becomes clear to Dougal that Mistress Beauchamp is in danger from Captain Black Jack Randall, he seeks Ned's legal advice, and the lawyer comes up with the idea of having the lady marry a Scot, thereby placing her under the legal jurisdiction of the clan, not the English. He draws up the marriage contract.
Several months later, Claire is on trial for witchcraft, and Ned rides into Cranesmuir in an attempt to help her. He convinces Colum to let him go by offering his services as an independent advocate and not a representative of the Laird.
Ned manages to talk for so long that the trial is adjourned until it can be continued in the morning. Although he doesn't manage to convince the judges of Claire's innocence he does buy her much needed time that allows Jamie to arrive before she is killed.
Around 1754, Ned goes to Edinburgh to speak on behalf of Laoghaire's husband Simon MacKimmie who had been arrested and died in prison. The Crown wanted to confiscate all Simon's land but Ned manages to save the main house and a little money for Laoghaire by claiming it was her dower right.
From 1760 to 1766, Ned spends his time appealing treason cases and trying to recover property confiscated by the Crown. He travels as far afield as London and Paris.
In 1764, Ned tells Jenny Murray about Laoghaire being a widow and living alone with her two daughters, Marsali and Joan. This causes Jenny to invite Laoghaire to Lallybroch for Hogmanay with the aim of matchmaking Laoghaire and Jamie.
In 1766, Ned arrives at Lallybroch with Hobart MacKenzie to represent Laoghaire in her claim against Jamie. He is delighted to see Claire again. Jamie, Claire, Hobart, Ned, Jenny and Ian are present as Ned lays out Laoghaire's case for compensation. Jamie declares that he will continue to support Laoghaire and her daughters, but Jenny insists that that support should stop if Laoghaire remarries. This is agreed to and the final settlement agreed to is that Jamie will pay Laoghaire an initial sum of £500 in compensation for distress, inconvenience and loss of conjugal services. He will then continue to pay Laoghaire £100 per annum until she remarries. In addition Jamie will pay a bride-portion of £300 to each of Laoghaire's two daughters, and he agrees to not take a suit against Laoghaire for attempted murder. Laoghaire agrees to accept this offer in full and final settlement.
An Echo in the Bone
In 1778, Ned is called upon once again to dismantle the arrangement he helped to create ten years earlier, between Jamie Fraser and Laoghaire MacKenzie. After Ned lays out a long-winded, jargon-filled proposal about the amendments to be made, Jamie agrees: Joan MacKimmie's dowry shall be given in part to Joan, for her entry into the convent in France, and the remainder to Laoghaire, on the condition that she wed Joseph Murray, and that the funds will be disbursed in increments, and be used only for the upkeep of her estate, Balriggan.
Ned is kind and brave, with a strong lust for adventure. He is precise and thorough in his profession, and views God as the personification of Justice.
Ned is a small, elderly man, neatly dressed and wearing spectacles. He has small brown eyes. By 1778, in his late eighties or early nineties, his skin is very wrinkled and he has lost many of his teeth, but is spry and cheerful as ever.
- Edward is derived from the Old English elements ead "wealth, fortune" and weard "guard", to mean "rich guard".
- Gowan is a reduced Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Gobhann "descendant of the smith".
- Ned came up with the idea of allowing Colum MacKenzie and Dougal MacKenzie to share the leadership of Clan MacKenzie.
Scottish actor Bill Paterson plays Ned Gowan in the series.
- The Garrison Commander
- The Wedding
- Both Sides Now
- The Reckoning
- By the Pricking of My Thumbs
- The Devil's Mark