John Halifax, an orphan who has an honest face and wants only to be given a chance to prove himself. He is given a chance by Abel Fletcher and proceeds to rise in the world by his efforts, honest dealings, and gentlemanly behavior. He wins the hand of a wealthy heiress and becomes a behind-the-scenes political power and a wealthy manufacturer. He is a good husband and father, rearing a fine family before he dies peacefully in his sleep.
Abel Fletcher, a wealthy Quaker, owner of a tannery and mill. He gives John Halifax a chance to prove himself and for many years is the young man’s benefactor.
Phineas Fletcher, invalid son of John’s benefactor. He and John become fast friends. He sees John’s good qualities before anyone else does so.
Ursula March, who becomes John’s wife. She loves him even though he is from a lower class and marries him despite opposition from her family and friends. Her love for her husband is so great that when he dies she dies too, as if she cannot bear to be separated from him.
Guy Halifax, the Halifaxes’ eldest son and his mother’s favorite child. He leaves home after a quarrel with his brother. Later, he almost kills a man in France and flees to America, where he does well. He returns eventually to be reunited joyfully with his family.
Maud Halifax, the Halifaxes’ youngest daughter and her father’s favorite child. Because she loves a man of whom her father disapproves, she remains unwed many years. Her patience and love are rewarded when the man, Lord Ravenel, proves his worth and is able to marry her.
Lord Ravenel (William)
Lord Ravenel (William), a worldly and wild young man. He wants to marry Maud, but her father refuses to permit the marriage. Ravenel goes to America, proves his worth, returns to England with Guy, and marries Maud with her father’s blessing.