The Real Historical Characters of

If Two Are Dead


The following are capsule biographies of individuals named in If Two Are Dead, only two of whom— Johannes De Graaff and John Tabor Kempe—have any direct effect on the action and consequently suffer the indignity of having words put in their mouths without permission by the author. The names of those individuals who were living as the story begins are emphasized in yellow.

All other characters in the novel are entirely fictional inventions.


Several of these individuals have also been mentioned in the previous Thomas Dordrecht novels. Their capsule biographies, located on other pages of this website, can be accessed by clicking on their names.

·      General Jeffery Amherst (1717-1797)

·      Lt. Col. John Bradstreet (1714-1774)

·      Col. Oliver DeLancey (1718-1785)

·      Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

·      Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm (1712-1759)

·      William Pitt, the Elder (1708-1778)

·      Lucius Aelius Sejanus (20 BC – AD 31)

·      King George II (1683-1760)

·      Marinus Willett (1740-1830)


Captain William Carlisle

·       Master of the merchant sloop Dove. When his ship was impounded and a warrant was issued against him for treason, in April 1762, it became painfully clear to the merchant community of New York City that officialdom was in earnest.

[No portrait available]



Catherine the Great (1729-1796)

·       A German princess, Catherine was married at 16 to her second cousin, the German prince who was the heir presumptive to Empress Elisabeth of Russia. The couple cordially detested each other, and it was argued that the two children to whom Catherine gave birth were not sired by her husband.

·       When the empress died, Catherine was far more popular among the Russian nobility than her husband, against whom a coup d’état was effected after just six months—and an assassination, in which Catherine was never authoritatively implicated.

·       On her accession, Catherine immediately reversed the reversal of Russian policy in the Seven Years’ War that her husband, Peter III, had effected six months earlier.

·       Her 34-year reign was regarded by some as the epitome of enlightened despotism.

Description: Description: Description: Description:

Oliver DeLancey (1718-1785)

·       From a prominent New York family, Oliver DeLancey was a leading merchant and public figure for decades.

·       With the support of his brother, Acting Governor James DeLancey, he was selected by the New York Assembly to provide provisions for New York provincial units in the French & Indian War.

·       He commanded a provincial detachment in the Ticonderoga campaign of 1758.

·       Though a member of the Sons of Liberty from 1768, he became a loyalist by 1774. His properties were confiscated after the war, and he died in Yorkshire.

[No portrait available]


Edward V of England (1470-1483?); and Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York (1473-1483?)

·       “The little princes in the Tower,” their disappearance and presumed deaths have usually been blamed—most notably, by Shakespeare—on their uncle, the succeeding King Richard III. But five hundred years later, “the jury is still out.”

Description: Description: Description: Description:

Tsarina Elisabeth (1709-1762)

·       The daughter of Peter the Great and Empress Catherine I of Russia, she came to the throne in 1741 as a result of a coup against the infant Ivan VI—who spent the bulk of his twenty-three year lifetime imprisoned in solitary confinement … which just possibly contributed to the alleged insanity that disqualified him from leadership.

·       Finding Frederick II (“the Great”) of Prussia personally objectionable, she sided with France and Austria against him and Britain in the Seven Years’ War. 

Description: Description: Description: Description:

Prince (Charles William) Ferdinand (1735-1806)

·       King George’s brother-in-law (husband of Princess Augusta Frederika) and ally in the Seven Years’ War. Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.

Description: Description: Description: Description: File:Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick-Wolfenbuettel (1721–1792).JPG

Prince Ferdinand (Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg) (1721-1792)

·       “The other one,” victor in 1762 of the Second Battle of Lutterberg—actually best known for his success in the Battle of Minden (1759).  An ally of Britain and a pal of Frederick II of Prussia.

Description: Description: Description: Description: File:Prinz Ferdinand Braunschweig.jpg

Frederick II of Prussia (1712-1786)

·       Another “enlightened despot” who just happened to bankrupt his subjects with endless military adventures, Frederick—for some reason known as “the Great”—was an extremely volatile, problematic, and expensive ally for the British in the Seven Years’ War. His desire to make his disparate inherited properties contiguous was apparently regarded by all who mattered as worth the sacrifice of thousands of other people’s lives.

·       Facing many reverses at the turn of the year 1762, Frederick was near to suicide when word came of Empress Elisabeth’s demise … which fortuitously made his admirer Peter III the Tsar of Russia. 

Description: Description: Description: Description:

George III (1738-1820)

·       The first of the Hanover dynasty to have been born in England, George III was determined at his accession to be a model monarch. He was actually eager to end the ruinous Seven Years’ War but, so far from succeeding, was out-foxed by the imperialist William Pitt and talked into an additional war with Spain.

Description: Description: Description: Description: Full-length portrait in oils of a clean-shaven young man in eighteenth century dress: gold jacket and breeches, ermine cloak, powdered wig, white stockings, and buckled shoes.

Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774)

·       Although his best-remembered works—The Vicar of Wakefield and She Stoops to Conquer—came after 1762, Goldsmith had already published The Citizen of the World, in which a Chinese traveler tours England and is able to contemplate it from a decidedly different angle.

Description: Description: Description: Description:

Johannes de Graaff (1729-1813)

·       Aside from his formal education in The Netherlands, de Graaff lived his entire life on Saint Eustatius island in the West Indies, seeing it through great vicissitudes of prosperity and destitution, resurgence and devastation at the hands of nature and man.

·       In 1776, he was the island’s governor, and notoriously became the first foreign potentate to “recognize” the brand new United States of America—by “saluting” its warship in the harbor. This diplomatic action (in addition to Statia’s annoying habit of trading freely with all customers) so infuriated the British that it contributed to the outbreak of the Fourth Anglo–Dutch War (1780–1784).

Description: Description: Description: Description: File:Johannes de Graeff.jpg

John Tabor Kempe (1735-1792)

·       Kempe was appointed New York’s attorney general at the age of twenty-four, when his father vacated that office by expiring.

·       As the last royal Attorney-General of the province of New York (1759-1782), he relentlessly prosecuted merchants who traded with the enemy.

·       Though no outcry of dishonesty was ever raised against him, he rose from being destitute to being one of the richest men in the province in the seventeen years preceding the Revolution—most likely by being privy to everyone’s real estate speculations and taking sensible advantage of the information.

·       Kempe was a loyalist who stayed in New York City during the occupation, sought and gained (partial) reparations from the Crown for his confiscated American properties, and died in England.

[No portrait available]









General Robert Monckton (1726-1782)

·       The second son of an aristocratic family, Monckton was an officer of the British army and a colonial administrator in British North America.

·       He played a major role in the deportation of the Acadians from British controlled Nova Scotia (1755)—an event known in retrospect as “ethnic cleansing.” The city of Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, is named for him.

·       He was second in command to General Wolfe at the battle of Québec (1759).

·       He is remembered for capturing the island of Martinique (February 12, 1762) and subsequently several other islands of the French Antilles.

·       He was the Governor of New York province from 1762 to 1765, even though he left North America in 1763, and never returned!

Description: Description: Description: Description:

William Penn (1644-1718)

·       King Charles II (1630-1685) owed a whacking great sum of money to William Penn’s father, which indebtedness he discharged in 1682 by “giving” Penn what is now the entire state of Pennsylvania—a real estate transaction that did not then, and does not now (for the most part) strike anyone but libertarians as outrageous.

·       A member of the Religious Society of Friends, Penn made the province a haven for “Quakers,” and did institute many reforms that strike the modern mind as progressive. Though not free of European racism and colonialism, his relations with the Native Americans were the best of the continent. Pennsylvania’s relatively non-feudal land policies enabled it and its chief city of Philadelphia to grow faster than any other in the British realm.

·       However, Penn himself—and particularly his heirs—became progressively less popular as non-Quakers and non-English Europeans became ever-larger proportional segments of the population. By 1762, Benjamin Franklin was among many demanding that the Penn family should be stripped of its proprietorship rights, and the colony made royal in status.

Description: Description: Description: Description:

Tsar Peter III (1728-1762)

·       The 18th Century Russian monarchy is remarkable in that on at least three occasions, the “rightful” male inheritors of the throne were displaced by female relatives! Peter—a German princeling who had been selected by his maternal aunt, Tsarina Elisabeth, for her heir at the age of 16, and who had since become much disdained by her—abruptly reversed her diplomatic and military stance on his accession in January 1762, taking Russia out of the war.

·       Though this might logically have made him popular with the taxpayers, it did not endear him to the nobility and the military, who much preferred the German princess who was his wife, and deposed him in July 1762, and promptly took Russia altogether out of the war. 

·       Peter was “disposed of” in an “accident” that occurred a week after his abdication. Catherine was never conclusively implicated.

Description: Description: Description: Description:

Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764)

·       She became the “official” mistress of King Louis XV in 1745—and her extreme cleverness enabled her to keep that position until her death from tuberculosis nineteen years later. 

·       She became very influential at court, and promoted individuals and policies that later led to her being blamed for France’s humiliating defeat in the Seven Years’ War.

Description: Description: Description: Description: File:Madame de Pompadour.jpg

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

·       Your present author, admittedly no great scholar, found Rousseau’s writings perfectly opaque—and consequently annoying—and consequently unendurable.  However, there was no question that the author of the Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men (1754) was, notoriously, a radical of his time.

·       Both Emile and The Social Contract were published in 1762. 

Description: Description: Description: Description:

Tobias Smollett (1721-1771)

·       A prolific and wide-ranging Scottish author of novels, plays, histories, travelogues, and commentary, Smollett had a parallel career in medicine throughout his life.

·       He once ran afoul of Britain’s libel laws, and served a brief sentence in jail.

·       The novel which made him famous—and notorious—The Adventures of Roderick Random, was originally published anonymously in 1748.

Description: Description: Description: Description:

François-Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694-1778)

·       The quintessential man of the Enlightenment, Voltaire was a French writer who authored more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets.

·       He was a major inspiration to the founders of the American republic.

·       Thomas Dordrecht, our fictional hero, considers Candide to be his favorite work of literature, and identifies closely with its title character.

Description: Description: Description: Description:

John Wilkes (1725-1797)

·       An English journalist and politician, Wilkes became a Member of Parliament for Middlesex in 1757, and was immediately branded a radical. He was also known as a wit, a roué, and paradoxically, “the ugliest man in England.”

·       It was actually in 1763 that his fame as a radical became widespread, a consequence of his having openly criticized the king in the famous issue number 45 of his North Briton periodical.

·       Wilkes supported Pitt and the Seven Years’ War. An aspect of his criticism of the king and Prime Minister Bute was their willingness to grant France relatively easy peace terms.

·       Wilkes turned conservative as he aged and consequently lost popularity with his constituents. He notoriously ordered troops to fire at protestors during the Gordon Riots of 1780.

Description: Description: Description: Description:

John Woolman (1720-1772)

·       As summarized by Wikipedia, Woolman “was an American itinerant Quaker preacher who traveled throughout the American colonies and in England, advocating against cruelty to animals, economic injustices and oppression, conscription, military taxation, and particularly slavery and the slave trade.”

·       Woolman protested against the French and Indian War, and went so far as to refuse paying those colonial taxes that supported it.

Description: Description: Description: Description:






Description: Description: Description: Description: Home