Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 810
Horace Holyoke, the narrator of this social chronicle of post-Revolutionary War New England. Born to poverty, he is ten when his schoolteacher father dies. Thanks to his abilities, his industry, and the benefaction of friends, he attends Harvard and at last becomes a successful lawyer.
Harry Percival, Horace’s closest friend. Harry’s mother, brought to America after an elopement and secret marriage, is deserted by her English officer husband and dies, leaving Harry and his sister. They are brought up with Horace, and the boys attend Harvard together. Harry’s legitimacy is established, and on the death of his father, he goes to England as Sir Harry.
Eglantine (Tina) Percival
Eglantine (Tina) Percival, Harry’s sister, who is loved by Horace. She marries another man, but he dies after ten years of unhappy marriage; two years later, she and Horace are married.
Ellery Davenport, handsome and clever and a grandson of Jonathan Edwards. He holds a succession of diplomatic posts abroad, and so is able to aid Harry with information about his father. Upon the death of his mad wife, he marries Tina; almost immediately, a girl he had seduced appears with their child, whom Tina generously takes. Unprincipled and ambitious, Ellery is close to madness when he is killed in a political duel.
Esther Avery, the daughter of a minister. She is a close friend of Tina, Harry, and Horace. She marries Harry and goes to England with him.
Mr. Lothrop, the minister and leading citizen of Oldtown, sedate and sensible.
Mrs. Lothrop, his wife and Ellery’s cousin. She is called “Lady Lothrop” by the people of Oldtown, a not disrespectful allusion to her aristocratic Boston background and her lingering adherence to the Church of England. She promises to provide for Harry’s clothing and education.
Deacon Badger, Harry’s grandfather, a leading farmer and miller of Oldtown, in whose home Horace lives after his father’s death. He is serene and affable.
Mrs. Badger, Horace’s grandmother, who is a strict Puritan Calvinist. The Badgers take in Harry and Tina when they are found in a deserted house in which they took refuge. Harry stays on with them.
Susy Badger Holyoke
Susy Badger Holyoke, their daughter and Horace’s mother. Her beauty faded because of hardship and poverty, she returns to her parents with her children after her husband’s death.
Miss Mehitable Rossiter
Miss Mehitable Rossiter, the daughter of a former minister of Oldtown. Her life has been saddened by the disappearance some years before of her half sister. She adopts Tina.
Emily Rossiter, Mehitable’s half sister, who appears with her child by Ellery shortly after his marriage to Tina. Tina uses her newly inherited fortune to establish the sisters in a house near Boston.
Sir Harry Percival
Sir Harry Percival, the worthless and dissipated father of Harry and Tina. Deserting his wife and children, he takes the wedding certificate and leaves a letter denying the legality of the marriage. Only a “younger son” at the time of the elopement, he succeeds to the family title and property.
Caleb (Old Crab) Smith
Caleb (Old Crab) Smith, a miser, in whose house Harry’s mother dies. He decides to keep the boy as a field hand.
Miss Asphyxia Smith
Miss Asphyxia Smith, Caleb’s sister. She takes in Tina, but the children are so harshly treated that they run away.
Bill Holyoke, Horace’s older brother. He gives little promise as a scholar and so goes to work on the farm with his uncle Jacob.
Jacob Badger, Horace’s...
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uncle, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Badger.
Sam Lawson, the village handyman and do-nothing. Called shiftless by some, he is Horace’s chief comfort in the days after his father’s death. Sam is never too busy to tell stories to the small boys or to take them hunting and fishing.
Keziah Badger, one of Mr. and Mrs. Badger’s unmarried daughters. Romantic-minded, she has a reputation for homeliness in the village.
Lois Badger, Keziah’s sister, who also is a spinster. She is sharp-tongued but warm-hearted.
Jonathan Rossiter, Miss Mehitable’s half brother and master of the academy in Cloudland. Horace and Harry study there and live with him.
Mr. Avery, the minister at Cloudland and Esther’s father. Tina boards with him.
Madame Kittery, Mrs. Lothrop’s mother. The children are taken to visit her in Boston as a special Easter treat. She takes an interest in Horace and provides money to send him to Harvard.
Major Broad and
Squire Jones, friends who meet in the spacious Badger kitchen to discuss politics, religion, and philosophy.