This page contains MAJOR SPOILERS about Roger MacKenzie from the Outlander book series, which may not yet have aired in the TV series. Read at your own peril!
Roger Wakefield MacKenzie is the adopted son of the Reverend Reginald Wakefield. His birth parents were killed during World War II; his father's plane went down and his mother was killed in the London Blitz. By 1968, he was an Oxford don and one of the youngest professors at the university. His life changes forever on the day that Dr. Claire Randall and her daughter, Brianna, arrive on his doorstep with a research project concerning a group of Highlanders during the Jacobite Rising of 1745.
Roger was born in Kyle of Lochalsh to Marjorie and Jeremiah ("Jerry") MacKenzie around 1940-41. His father left to serve in the Royal Air Force during the war, and died when his plane reportedly went down over the English Channel in October 1941. A few years later, Marjorie MacKenzie was killed when a tube station collapsed in London during the Blitz, and the orphaned Roger was taken in by his maternal great-uncle, the Reverend Reginald Wakefield, who raised Roger with the help of his housekeeper, Mrs. Graham. His childhood in Inverness as the minister's son was fraught with the usual schoolyard rebellions, and in his teenage years he spent summers working on a herring boat in the Minch, where he learned to speak Gaelic from the fishermen.
All his life Roger had believed that his father, a Spitfire pilot, had been shot down over the English Channel; however, years later Claire advises him that Spitfire pilots never flew over the Channel, and that she recalled Frank mentioning the strange occurrence of a pilot missing from a plane crash site in Northumbria – and that the name Jeremiah had a certain doom about it. Claire reminds Roger that there are stone circles all over Northumbria, and that, in combination with Jerry's disappearance on Samhain, could mean that he became an accidental time traveler.
Roger's ability to travel through the stone circles seems to be hereditary, passed down from his ancestress Geillis Duncan, who had borne an illegitimate son by Dougal MacKenzie. The child was adopted into another MacKenzie family after his birth and became William Buccleigh MacKenzie, also a traveler, and Roger's grandfather some six times over.
Events of the Novels
Events of the Show
|“||And if Roger found himself now bard to a displaced Highland chieftain, still he must try also to be a warrior when the time came, for the sake of his son, and those who would come after.||”|
Though he grew up in a loving home, raised by his mother's bachelor uncle and his housekeeper, the early loss of both his parents and lack of any other kin well into adulthood effected in Roger a profound longing for family. He is compassionate to a fault, in that a well-meant gesture on his part is sometimes interpreted as overly familiar or inappropriate. Generally good-humored and relaxed, with a mischievous sense of humor, Roger rouses to anger more slowly than his Fraser relatives, though he can reach a fury no less formidable should the situation call for it.
With a background in history, Roger has a scholar's "insatiable, amoral curiosity" which he carries with him when he goes through the stones to the 18th century. He is also passionate about music, particularly Scottish folksongs and Gaelic hymns.
Roger is a tall man at six feet, three inches, with a dark complexion, or what Claire would describe as a "Black Celt" – olive-skinned, with thick black hair and lashes. His eyes, inherited from his ancestress Geillis Duncan, are a bright green, often likened to the color of moss, though they are deepset like his MacKenzie ancestors. When Brianna sketches him, she draws a bold nose and a wide, slanted jaw. Roger usually wears his hair long.
Dougal MacKenzie and Geillis Duncan
Geillis conceived Dougal MacKenzie's bastard child, and her pregnancy saved her from being burned as a witch. After she gave birth to a son, the child was given to another family to raise, and Dougal devised a way for Geillis to escape burning as a witch.
Roger is a descendant of Geillis and Dougal's son. Roger has Geillis's green eyes and inherited her ability to pass through the stones. He meets her in 1739, having traveled through time in search of his son, Jem.
Roger and Brianna get married in late October, 1770, at Mount Helicon, North Carolina..
- Roger means "famous spear" from the Germanic elements hrod "fame" and ger "spear".
- Jeremiah comes from the Hebrew name יִרְמְיָהוּ (Yirmiyahu) which meant "YAHWEH has uplifted". This is the name of one of the major prophets of the Old Testament, the author of the Book of Jeremiah and (supposedly) the Book of Lamentations.
- MacKenzie is the anglicized form of MacCoinnich, a Gaelic patronymic name meaning "son of Coinneach". The personal name Coinneach means "handsome" or "comely".
- Roger is one of three characters that appear "in person" in every novel of the main series; the other two are Claire and Jamie.
- Roger owns a Morris Minor that is bright orange.
- Roger has type O blood.
- Roger had a stuffed Scottie named Uncle Angus as a child. After unearthing Angus during the cleaning of the manse, Brianna, charmed with him, had dusted off his plaid bonnet and placed him on her own bed in the guest room.
- When Roger asks Brianna if she has picked up any Scottish turns of phrase, she tells him that there is a dance in the States called the Shag, but she understands that she shouldn't ask him to do it with her here. Roger replies, "Not unless you mean it".
- Dougal MacKenzie is Roger's sixth-great-grandfather and Brianna's paternal great-uncle. This makes Roger and Brianna 2nd cousins, 6 times removed. Statistically, they share 0.05% DNA.
Scottish actor Rory Burns portrays young Roger in the series.
- Both Sides Now (Rory Burns)
- Age as of the end of Written in My Own Heart's Blood.
- Gabaldon, Diana. "How old is Roger?." MSG: 57670.4. Diana Gabaldon. Books and Writers Community. Compuserve. Published 17 October 2007. Accessed 15 June 2020.
- In the U.S. edition of Outlander, Claire disappears in 1945, while the U.K. editors changed the year to 1946, which made more sense for Claire and Frank's post-war reunion. Which date to go by is a point of contention among fans, and varies among editions of subsequent novels in the series.
- Voyager, chapter 2.
- Drums of Autumn, chapter 3.
- Drums of Autumn, chapter 50.
- The Fiery Cross, chapter 14.
- Behind the Name: Roger – accessed 21 June 2016.
- Behind the Name: Jeremiah – accessed 30 September 2014.
- Behind the Name:Coinneach – accessed 21 June 2016.
- Ancestry.com – accessed 21 June 2016.
- Dragonfly in Amber, chapter 1.
- Dragonfly in Amber, chapter 3.
- The Fiery Cross, chapter 97.
- Drums of Autumn, Chapter 17
- Dragonfly in Amber, chapter 48.
- Drums of Autumn, chapter 40.
- Outlander STARZ Official Twitter – December 14, 2015