Lord St. John Grayson, the Duke of Devonwood
In 1827, Damian Grayson, then the Duke of Devonwood, renounced his title, then took his three younger sons to America for a new life, one where they wouldn’t be living in the shadow of their oldest brother. St. John, or ‘Sinjin,’ for short, assumed the title and took over the family holdings when his father and brothers left for America.
Once there, Damian and his sons built Englica, an English-style estate on Lake Galloway in rural New Hampshire. In time, Anthony became the master of the Grayson estate there, Englica, and eventually married Camryn and had children of his own. Edward, the quiet brother, left to explore the American West, and Richard married a local girl, Janelle LeDuc. They had six children.
Except for when Nick (Lord Statler), a childhood friend of Richard’s, tried to kidnap Janelle and kill Richard and Sinjin in the process, in Janelle’s Time, Sinjin is not well known to my readers. Richard and Sinjin managed to subdue the insanely mad Nick and hold him until the Devonwood security detail could arrive. Nick was sent to an institution and Sinjin agreed to take over his estate and run it until there was some change in Nick’s condition.
Like his brothers, Sinjin is tall and slender – good-looking and very popular with the ladies – but doesn’t have the predominant family dark coloring. His medium brown hair, hazel eyes and fair skin come from his mother. Destined by birth to be the next Duke of Devonwood, he spent his life preparing for the role. His first, and for many years, his only love was horses. He grew up watching and learning as his father, Damian, and grandfather, David, worked to create and perfect the Devonwood horse breed that, over the years, became popular in England, on the continent, and, then, in America, where Anthony and Richard raised them, along with the regular farming they did.
Similar in temperament to his mother, Sinjin is warm, friendly, and caring. He’s also similar to his father in the way they take care of business on Devonwood. Serious and businesslike when he needs to be, he can also be great fun when it’s appropriate. While he doesn’t flaunt his position or his power, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind when he enters a room he’s someone of importance.
When Damian took the younger men to America, his wife, Susannah, stayed behind to be hostess for Sinjin. It wasn’t until 1835, a few months before Damian returned to England, that Sinjin met the love of his life, Alexis Philippa Hastings, the oldest daughter of the Earl of Dawsmere, a small holding in Lincolnshire, near the eastern coast of England. They were married in 1836 and had 2 children, Gregory Norwood Grayson and Marielle Victoria Grayson. Upon his return from America, Damian did not apply to the monarchy, as he could have, to regain his title as he felt Sinjin was doing very well. By then, Damian was in his 60s, old for his time. He was happy to let Sinjin carry on.
As Moria’s aunt and uncle, Alexis and Sinjin found themselves involved in her life when she came to England, summoned there by Florence Nightingale, to first work at a charity hospital in London and then accompany her to Scutari, Turkey, part of a group of nurses to care for the wounded and sick from the Crimean War. Moria lived at Adelle House, the family London town home in Mayfair, London, not far from Buckingham Palace.
Sinjin, as patriarch of the family, gave Dr. Simon Hensley permission to court Moria, provided she agreed. Later, he also, with Susannah, gave Simon permission to propose marriage to Moria. Simon had an easier time of it by appealing to Sinjin, as Richard, Moria’s father, no doubt, would have given Simon a hard time.
Sinjin was also a key player in the charitable work Adelle did after she arrived in London. Adelle’s reason for being there was to pursue her lifetime goal of meeting and marrying a duke, something the family had tried repeatedly to convince her would never work but she didn’t give up.
Because she’s only a duke’s niece, and an American farmer’s daughter, she found acceptance into London society elusive. She simply wasn’t one of them, and never would be. When Adelle first arrived in London, she searched for a companion, finding Deanna, the daughter Lord Langston, then set about wooing London society under the guise of ‘Lady Mysterious.’ That plan proved to be too dangerous so she abandoned it and set in motion another one.
When Adelle told Sinjin about her problems with being accepted into society, he and Alexis came to London during season to attend the balls and parties with her as their guest. Bored with life in London, Sinjin convinced her he could teach her to ride horses, something she’d never done as a child, citing fear of the large beasts. She took to it like a duck to water, which surprised no one, coming from a horse-breeding family.
It was at one of the balls that Adelle met Walter and her life changed. When the season was over, Adelle was encouraged to get out of London for the summer, citing the dangers of the heat and disease. She wanted to gain acceptance by the London society by taking on a cause, so, she chose supporting an orphanage because of her volunteering experience at one near her home in New Hampshire during her younger years. She soon realized the London orphans deserved to get out of London, too, if only for a little while, just as much as the high society folks did.
With Sinjin and the family behind her, and Walter to help her, she set about planning to do just that – get the orphans our of London during the summer. Sinjin remained in the forefront, as a catalyst and more, to the point where Adelle and Walter feared losing control of their project. Adelle, showing remarkable maturity and diplomacy, steered the family away from her project and onto their own, suggesting that they support a local orphanage in the Melton Mowbray area.
Suddenly, Moria was home from the Crimean War and Grandmother Susannah convinced her she could marry Simon and not lose herself, or her future, in the process. Since Walter and Adelle had postponed their marriage plans to wait for Moria to come home, Sinjin and the rest of the family were suddenly busy with preparations for a double wedding in New Hampshire.
While not in the forefront of either Janelle’s Time or Moria’s Time, Sinjin is actually a key player – he’s the glue that, after his father’s death, holds the family together.