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Henry Grey

Henry Grey

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Character Profile

     Character Name: Henry Nathaniel Grey

     Title: Baron Grey (of Codnor)

     Estate Name: Codnor Castle, Derbyshire

     Nationality: English

     Age: 42

     Gender: male

     Eye Colour: hazel

     Hair Colour: dark brown

     Avatar: Lambert Wilson

     Reputation: a man in love with the moon

First Impression & Physical Appearance

Neither ugly nor handsome, yet a bit above plain. Pleasant would be a good word to describe his face. Auburn hair was thick and abundant, with threads of silver beginning to peek out, worn shoulder-length, loose most of the time, or tied with a haphazardly-chosen colored ribbon. Hazel eyes changed from gold in bright sunlight to a deep green indoors and with little light, to almost yellow when angered.

A bit on the thick side for his 5’ 6” frame, perhaps due to lack of strenuous physical activity and the onset of middle-age. Calves were thick and muscular, well-turned under silken stockings, something he had never paid attention to. Clothing was of good fabric and make, usually in muted or earthen hues. Practical and never on the cutting edge of fashion, sometimes out of style if truth needed to be told, still they fit his frame. Henry often carried a walking stick and a pocket watch, his only conscious concessions to frivolity and fashion, but hardly ever used bejeweled rings, and cravat pins only when needed.

A little shy, starting conversation slowly, especially with women, even more so with those of the pretty variety. Polite almost to a fault, unless angered, then all bets were off. Kept long periods of silence often, as his mind raced to the heavens, to the stars and to the moons, to mental images of lenses and mirrors, and to how to combine them to make better telescopes. When lost in thought, his lips seemed to move, as if mumbling to himself or dictating to a clerk, yet no sound escaped them.


There was a certain shyness to Henry that came from thinking too much and saying too little, and from working in his experiments alone. But there was also great determination to succeed, forged in the same fire. Henry drove himself hard and expected others to follow his example. Yet, he was not a harsh taskmaster as, when he carried himself beyond the limits of human endurance and saw others falter, he understood that he had taken things too far, and simply called it a day.

He was a staunch friend, and a very vocal enemy. He kept the notes of his research and observations in cypher, as most contemporary scientists did, but he shared his general thoughts freely with his friends. He had never been exposed to politics or courtly intrigue and was quite uncomfortable with the notion of being sucked into the world of politics and policy. Yet, if his involvement in politics could lead the way for fostering, sharing and applying new discoveries and ideas, and if he could make contributions for the aggrandizement of England, perhaps it would be a bearable evil, he thought.

Henry liked mead and ale, as well as spirits, far more than he liked wines. Fortified wines he enjoyed, but clarets and rhennish were not his favourites. He preferred English fare to elaborate Continental dishes but could eat almost anything. Liver he disliked, as well as sweetbreads, and cow brains would almost make him gag. Yet, he would eat anything served to him with a polite smile, eating enough as to be proper, even when suffering with every bite. Those demonic substances were forbidden to his cook, however.

More of a man of thought than a man of action, his intellect was keen, even as his body was uncoordinated. His ability with blade, pistol, and horse, or the utter lack thereof, were well known in Derbyshire, and no proper gentleman would think of challenging Henry to a duel, as the baron was more likely to wound himself than his opponent. He took his lack of martial skill in stride, with a half-smile and a self-deprecating tone. “If I am ever in need to accept a challenge to a duel”, he would say, “I think I will face death unarmed. People would then at least remember a brave man, not an utterly clumsy one”.

He suffered a transformation when working on the design of a mirror or the shape a lens. His eyes would twinkle, and he would almost squint, thinking furiously about a Bohemian glass technique, or a new method for polishing metal. When he finally found a solution, his smile would widen, and his first instinct would be to reach for quill and paper, to register his discoveries in his personal cypher, using Greek and Hebrew characters profusely, writing from right to left.

His final concern was his family line. He was the last of the Greys of Codnor, and he had the responsibility to sire an heir. Before that could be accomplished, though, he needed to find a suitable wife. The image of his stepmother openly flirting with the tenant was ever-present, and would need to find a chaste, well-bred woman that would behave as she should, not one that behaved like a whore. Would such a wife be difficult to find, he wondered?

Wealth Level

     Above average.


     The Red Lion Inn, Yacht Room.

Benefits & Challenges

Above average wealth                          +2

Baron                                                       +1

Special ability in science                     +1

Patron – Duke of Buckingham           +1

Famous family – Grey                         +1

NPC enemy – Robert Hooke               -1

Horrible at swordsmanship                -1

Horrible at firearms                              -1

Horrible at horseback riding              -1

Dark secret – accidental homicide  -2


This branch of the Grey family was based at the 13th century Codnor Castle. Together with the other branches of the Grey nobility, they shared descent from the Norman knight Anchetil de Greye, a vassal of William the Conqueror.

The castle was a stone keep and bailey fortress and was established by William Peverel. It had a three-storey keep and a strong curtain wall and ditch, flanked by round towers. The outer bailey was on a lower level and was constructed at a later period. The castle overlooked the Erewash valley and the counties of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. It had a deep moat and on its eastern side there was a considerable abundance of trees. On the west side there was a courtyard that was strongly fortified by huge round towers, which had battlements. The outer walls had loopholes included to allow bowmen to use them if necessary.

The barony, though technically simply Grey as it was created by writ, was often termed "Grey of Codnor" to distinguish it from the other Grey baronies throughout history, though the holder was by convention styled simply as "The Right Honourable The Lord Grey".

In 1643, John Grey became the 12th Baron Grey. The civil war had just begun, and the Baron decided that, since he had no heir at that point, he would remain as neutral as possible. He had a long but obscure tenure as a baron, dying in 1675 at the age of 67.

John’s oldest son, Richard, became the 13th Baron, but his tenure was short-lived. In the summer of 1677, Richard died from a wound sustained in a hunting accident. Although there was a formal inquiry, no ill intent was found, so there was nothing more to do, and the inquiry was closed.

John’s second son, Henry, was sent to The Royal College of St. Peter in Westminster at the age of thirteen, in 1648. He had a keen mind and did well in his studies, but a personal enmity developed between Henry and a fellow student.

It all started as a misunderstanding. Henry got into a discussion with a fellow student by the name of Robert Hooke. It was about some obscure Euclidean Geometry problem that both proposed solutions for, but that had been purposefully stated in an obscure way by their instructor. Hooke was the better geometrician of the two, although Henry's reasoning of his proposed solution was sound, at least from his interpretation of the problem. But disagreement escalated into words, and then Hooke's mother and her morals were mentioned by a frustrated Henry in a very ungentlemanly way. Big mistake. Words turned into fists, and Henry ended in the losing end of the fight, with a rather noticeable black eye to remind him why civility was important.

Hooke had no reason to forgive Henry, and Henry had been too proud to ask forgiveness of 'a mere commoner'. The fact that Hooke went to Oxford after Westminster while Henry went on to Cambridge did not help matters either. Even though decades passed, there was neither opportunity nor desire to set matters straight, and the enmity persisted.

After graduating from Westminster School, Henry was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge. He obtained his B.S. in 1653, and his M.Sc. in 1665. The Masters took him a lot longer than expected because his field of interest was unusual: applied optics. It was hard going when few people could teach him, and most that could, like the Venetian glassblowers, did not want to, especially regarding manufacturing processes of lenses and mirrors without major imperfections in them. He traveled extensively during that time, seeking the best glass makers in the Continent, learning manufacturing techniques in Bohemia and Italy from the few that would share them, always looking for ever-better lenses for his telescopes.

It was during his time at Cambridge that he met a younger and extraordinarily bright student, one that encouraged him not to quit his search for knowledge, an undergraduate by the name of Isaac Newton. Although Grey finished his graduate work before Newton, Henry also knew that Newton was the brighter of the two, and deferred to the man’s keen mind on most scientific matters, with the possible exception of lenses and mirrors.

There was an incident after he finished his Masters, one that would mark him for life. He returned home one time and found that his father the baron had taken a second wife, the daughter of a local esquire. The woman was young, in fact Henry almost doubled her age. She also made it a point to fight continually with Henry and his brother about any and every trivial detail so, when Henry caught her flirting with a tenant, he knew something had to be done.

With his brother’s knowledge and consent, Henry proceeded to spike his stepmother’s laudanum potion. He added more laudanum than needed. Henry knew more than most living men about mirrors and lenses but knew nothing at all about drug dosage. The result was that the girl drank her medicine, fell asleep, and never woke up. That had not been the brothers’ intent. They had just wanted her to become addicted to the laudanum and stay in a state of stupor, in bed, away from men not their father. It was not to kill her. But she was dead, and they would have to live with it all their lives.

As far as Richard and Henry knew, nobody had seen or heard them, but perhaps someone did. And perhaps that someone might come back to haunt Henry one day. He prays that never happens, and often, but the possibility rears its ugly head occasionally, late at night.

In 1674, Henry Grey was made a fellow of Trinity College, nine years after having finished his Masters. He would not have been yet for some time, except that the Chancellor of the university applied his political weight and pulled all the strings he felt like to get him the post. The reason? The chancellor put it thus, when questioned by the vice-Chancellor: “How can you not love a natural philosopher whose greatest infatuation is the moon? He has the fiery heart of a poet, not the cold heart of a man of science! His one fault is, perhaps, lack of humour, but never a lack of wit!” The name of the chancellor was George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham.

Henry’s main interests were applied refracting and reflecting optics, and their application to astronomy in general, and telescopes in particular. His most remarkable desire was to produce a detailed map of the moon, something that would take years to accomplish. His hurdles were many, especially regarding the optics, but the invention of the reflecting telescope by Newton held much promise. Things were looking bright for the now middle-aged scientist.

And then, disaster struck. In the summer of 1677, Henry’s eldest brother, Richard, died from a bullet wound in a hunting accident. Henry suddenly found himself the unwilling 14th Baron Grey of Codnor. Many things changed, like having to resign from his fellowship at Trinity to involve himself in the matters of his estate, and many other details that he needed to take care of. But it did not take long for the Barony’s paperwork to be put in order, and not much later he received an officially-looking document. Upon reading it, he sighed. The document read thus:

Charles the Second by the Grace of God of the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland and of Our other Realms and Territories, Defender of the Faith, to Our Right trusty and well-beloved Baron Grey, Chavalier, Greeting. Whereas Our Parliament for arduous and urgent affairs concerning Us, the state, and defence of Our Kingdom and the Church is now met at Our City of Westminster, We strictly enjoining Command you upon the faith and allegiance by which you are bound to Us, that the weightiness of the said affairs and imminent perils considered (waiving all excuses) you be at the said day and place personally present with Us and with the said Prelates, Great Men, and Peers to treat and give your counsel upon the affairs aforesaid. And this as you regard Us and Our honour and the safety and defence of the said Kingdom and Church and dispatch of the said affairs in nowise do you omit Witness Ourself at Westminster the First day of April in the 28th year of Our Reign.

It was a Writ of Summons to Parliament, and he was required by law to attend. Taking a few days to put things in order, Henry left for London, with the fading hope of returning soon to his beloved Cambridge and, at the age of 42, traveled to the London where he had spent five years of his youth.


-          Father: John Grey, 12th Baron Grey of Codnor. Born 1608. Died 1675.

-          Mother: Lady Althea Giffard. Born 1616. Died 1665 in the Great Plague.

-          Brother: Richard Grey, 13th Baron Grey of Codnor. Born 1634. Died 1677.


-          To map the face of the moon in great detail.

-          To build a telescope that helps him to do so.

-          To publish his maps, once they are finished.

-          To become a member of The Royal Society of London for Promoting Natural Knowledge.

-          To be noticed by the King and receive preferment from him, preferably due to scientific achievements.


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