The hero of Kidnapped, David Balfour is a sixteen-year-old boy from Essendean whose seemingly poor father, a schoolmaster, has just died. With his mother already dead, David has no choice but to leave the rented family home and find his way in the world. A letter left for him by his father sends him on a journey to Cramond, where he learns that he is actually from a wealthy family, the Shaws. An encounter with his devious uncle Ebenezer ends with David being kidnapped and taken aboard a ship bound for the American Colonies, where he will be sold into slavery. Aboard the ship, David meets Alan Breck Stewart and forms a friendship that keeps both of them alive through many perils, not the least of which include a shipwreck and being suspected of murdering a prominent agent of the king. David eventually returns to his rightful home, the estate of the Shaws, and claims his inheritance before departing for Edinburgh to help his friend Alan escape the country.
The uncle of David Balfour, Ebenezer is the younger brother of David’s father Alexander, rightful heir to the Shaws estate. As young men, the two quarreled over the love of a girl—David’s mother—and Alexander gave up his claim to the Shaws estate in exchange for a life of happiness and family. Unfortunately, all the wealth of the house of Shaws could not make Ebenezer happy, and he became a bitter hermit within the ruined estate. His reputation among the locals of Cramond is poor, and his cruelty and greed have seriously tarnished the family name. When David shows up at his door, Ebenezer realizes that the only thing he has—his wealth—is in danger, since the estate belongs by law to Alexander and his descendants. He attempts to cause David to fall to his death while climbing an incomplete stairway, and when that ploy fails, he pays Captain Hoseason to kidnap the young man and take him to the Carolinas. After David returns and exposes Ebenezer’s plan, Ebenezer agrees to give David the bulk of the estate.
Colin Roy Campbell
Campbell is a prominent member of a Scottish Highland clan who has become an agent of King George of England. His family’s allegiance to the king has angered many other Highland clans, including the Stewart clan, of which Alan Breck Stewart is a member. A real-life historical figure, Campbell was entrusted with evicting the families of many Highland clans and taking control of their estates in the name of the king. In Kidnapped, David speaks briefly to Campbell and is a witness to his death by shooting—an actual historical event. In the novel, David and Alan Breck Stewart are accused of taking part in the murder.
The minister at Essendean, where David Balfour was raised, Mister Campbell is a close friend of David’s father and looks after David until he leaves Essendean for Cramond. Mister Campbell is the one David’s father entrusted to deliver a letter to David after his death; it is this letter that marks the beginning of David’s adventures. Before David departs on his journey, Mister Campbell gives David some money, a Bible, and a recipe for Lily of the Valley water. Campbell also warns David of the temptations and dangers he may face along the way.
A former tenant of Ebenezer Balfour, Jennet Clouston speaks with David on his journey to the house of Shaws. She has nothing good to say about Ebenezer, and says she has cursed him ‘‘twelve hunner and nineteen’’ times—according to Ebenezer, once for every day since he evicted her.
Mister Henderland is a religious teacher David meets while walking from Kinlochaline toward Appin. Henderland proves to be knowledgeable, fair-minded, and altogether pleasant traveling company for David. Henderland even invites David to stay at his house, offers him a small amount of money for his journey, and finds a fisherman to transport David across Linnhe Loch to Appin.
Elias Hoseason is the captain of the ship Covenant, in the employ of Ebenezer Balfour. After David Balfour arrives at the house of Shaws, Ebenezer pays Hoseason twenty pounds to lure the boy to his ship, kidnap him, and sell him into slavery in the Carolinas. Hoseason later recruits David as his cabin boy aboard the Covenant. After David overhears Hoseason and his officers plotting to kill Alan Breck Stewart, he tells Alan and the two fend off the attackers. Hoseason eventually loses his beloved ship by crashing into a reef off the coast of Mull, but he survives.
Innkeeper at Queensferry
While in Queensferry for the first time, David speaks to an innkeeper who provides him valuable information about his father. David discovers from the innkeeper that his father was actually the older brother of Ebenezer, contrary to what Ebenezer had told him; this means that David, not Ebenezer, is the rightful heir to the house of Shaws.
Innkeeper’s Daughter in Limekilns
In Limekilns, David and Alan encounter an innkeeper’s daughter who proves instrumental in their safe passage to Queensferry. Unable to cross the Firth of Forth by bridge, the two must find a way across the water. They find an inn and play upon the sympathies of the innkeeper’s daughter, telling her that David is likely to be killed if they cannot find someone to ferry them across the water. She agrees to help, and after nightfall she steals a boat and rows the pair across the water herself.
James of the Glens See James Stewart
John Breck Maccoll
John Breck Maccoll is a good friend of Alan Breck Stewart’s who lives in Koalisnacoan. When David and Alan are on the run as fugitives, Alan contacts John Breck and asks him to deliver a message to James Stewart. Although he initially refuses, John Breck delivers the message and returns to Alan and David with both some money and the information that James Stewart has been arrested by the king.
Duncan Mackiegh is a blind religious instructor on the island of Mull. David encounters Mackiegh during his journey from Erraid to the ferry at Torosay. Although he is blind, he carries a silver pistol and can name every landmark along the road where he and David stand. While walking with Mackiegh, David grows to suspect that the man plans to harm or rob him, so he threatens Mackiegh and drives him away. David later discovers that Mackiegh, even though blind, is considered an excellent shot at close range, and is suspected of both robbery and murder.
Duncan Dhu Maclaren
Duncan Dhu Maclaren is a Balquidder resident whose family is friendly with the Stewart clan. David and Alan are fortunate enough to knock upon Duncan’s door when David is ill and in need of help. The two remain in Duncan Dhu’s home for nearly a month as David recovers, and Duncan frequently entertains everyone with his pipe-playing. When Robin Oig visits and a confrontation occurs between Oig and Alan, Duncan defuses the situation by asking them both to participate in a pipe-playing contest.
A Highland chief on the run from the British government, Cluny Macpherson hides out in a secret place near Ben Alder called ‘‘Cluny’s Cage.’’ David and Alan are brought to him by his men, who find the pair evading redcoats nearby. During their stay in Cluny’s Cage, David is ill, but Alan keeps Cluny company by playing cards. Unfortunately, Alan loses all of his own money as well as David’s. Cluny, being a gentleman, returns David’s money.
Neil Roy Macrob
Neil Roy Macrob is the ferryman who transports David from Torosay to the mainland at Kinlochaline. Macrob is a friend of Alan Breck Stewart’s, and after David shows him Alan’s silver coat button, he gives David instructions for meeting Alan in Appin.
Robin Oig is the son of Rob Roy, a legendary outlaw and hero to many Scots. Robin himself is also a fugitive from the law, having been part of a plot to kidnap a wealthy widow and force her to marry him. He meets David and Alan during their stay in Balquidder, and defeats Alan in a pipe-playing contest.
Mister Rankeillor is a lawyer in Queensferry familiar with the dealings between Ebenezer Balfour and his deceased brother, Alexander. Ebenezer promises to take David to see Rankeillor before having the boy kidnapped. When David returns from the Highlands, he finds Rankeillor and tells him what has transpired, including his uncle’s devious plan. Rankeillor helps David get Ebenezer to admit his part in the kidnapping, and is instrumental in securing David’s rightful inheritance.
Ransome is the cabin boy aboard Captain Hoseason’s ship, the Covenant. It is he who delivers a message from the captain to Ebenezer at the house of Shaws. David becomes somewhat friendly with Ransome while aboard the Covenant, and sees firsthand the abuse Ransome receives at the hands of Mr. Shuan. Ransome is eventually beaten to death by the drunken Mr. Shuan after offering the officer a dirty piece of dishware. Captain Hoseason and his officers agree to say that the boy simply fell overboard.
The Red Fox
See Colin Roy
Campbell Mister Riach
Mr. Riach is Captain Hoseason’s second officer aboard the sailing ship Covenant. Riach is the one who knocks David unconscious after the young man boards the Covenant, and he later admits this freely to David. Riach’s concern about David’s well-being leads Hoseason to move the boy above-decks, where David’s health improves. David later explains his situation to Riach, who agrees to help the boy return home. However, Riach never follows through on this promise, and is one of the crew members who attack David and Alan Breck Stewart after they block themselves in the roundhouse. David later learns that after the shipwreck, Riach takes arms against his fellow crewmen in an effort to protect Stewart from them.
Mr. Shuan is Captain Hoseason’s first officer aboard the sailing ship Covenant. He also functions as the ship’s main navigator. David at first has little contact with Shuan, but notes that he is pleasant enough during the rare times he is not drinking. When he drinks, however, he is cruel and physically violent—mostly to the ship’s cabin boy, Ransome. One night, after Ransome brings Shuan a dirty piece of dishware, Shuan beats the boy so viciously that he dies. After he realizes what he has done, Shuan becomes haunted and barely able to grasp reality. Shuan is killed during the crew’s assault on the roundhouse against David and Alan Breck Stewart. Because of this, the Covenant is navigated incompetently through the Torran Rocks, and is wrecked on a reef.
Alan Breck Stewart
Alan Breck Stewart is a Highlander who serves the heads of the Stewart clan in Appin. He is described as small in stature and rather fancily dressed, with a pockmarked face that was the result of smallpox. However, he proves himself to be both tough and a skilled fighter. A fugitive from English law because of his desertion from the army and his support of the Jacobite rebellion, Alan lives primarily in France. However, he makes periodic trips to and from Scotland to collect rents from loyal clan members for their exiled chieftain. While waiting in a small boat for his transport back to France, Alan and his clansmen are struck by the Covenant. Through luck and agility, Alan manages to survive the collision and climb aboard the Covenant. This is where he meets David Balfour, and the two become close companions and friends during their adventures.
James Stewart, also known as James of the Glens, is the functioning head of the Stewart clan in Appin. He is also a kinsman of Alan Breck Stewart, and the person Alan turns to after he and David are suspected of killing Colin Roy Campbell. James agrees to help, although he warns the two that he must also publicly condemn them for his own safety and the safety of his family. David and Alan discover days later that James has been arrested as an accomplice in the murder.
Mrs. Stewart James
Stewart’s wife, Mrs. Stewart, is a kind woman who offers David her thanks for helping Alan and the Stewart clan. She later sends Alan and David all the money she can spare to help them escape.
Torrance is Mister Rankeillor’s clerk, and helps participate in the plan to trick Ebenezer into admitting his part in David’s kidnapping.
Sara Constantakis, Novels for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Novels, Volume 33, Gale-Cengage Learning, 2010