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The Struan family and their company Struan's (also called the Noble House) is a fictional family featuring heavily in many of the Asian Saga novels by writer James Clavell. The family plays an important role in the novels Tai-Pan, Noble House, Gai-Jin, and Whirlwind. Tai-Pan is the first book about the Struan family, although it is preceded by Shōgun in the Asian Saga.

The Struan family begins its journey with the story of Dirk Struan, a trader of opium and other goods between China and England. Dirk is the founder of the Noble House and plays a major role in establishing Hong Kong.

The fictional Struan family is based on the historical William Jardine family of Jardine Matheson fame and hails from Dumfries, Scotland.[1]

Tai-pans of the Noble House[edit]

  • Dirk Struan, founder of Struan & Company
  • Culum Struan, a character in the novels Tai-Pan and Gai-Jin. He is the son of Dirk Struan, tai-pan of Struan's Trading Company. In the novel, he marries Tess Brock. She is the daughter of Tyler Brock, founder of Brock & Son's Trading Company and main rival to his father. At the end of the novel Tai-Pan, he succeeds Dirk Struan following Dirk's death in 1841. He proves to be a weak tai-pan and his wife Tess is forced to take on more and more of his responsibility. In 1862, his son Malcolm is overseeing Struan's in Japan and assumes the role of tai-pan upon Culum's death. His mother Tess Struan and Gordon Chen urge Malcolm to return to Hong Kong to formally become tai-pan, but he is unable to travel due to a samurai ambush which nearly kills him, and leaves him severely wounded. In a series of letters from his mother and uncle Gordon, it is revealed that on his deathbed Culum legally made Tess tai-pan in complete accordance with Dirk Struan's "Legacy". She countermands Malcolm's orders and orders him to return to Hong Kong by Christmas or be removed from Struan's permanently and the mantle of tai-pan will be handed to another. Malcolm dies of an internal hemorrhage in December 1862 and Tess then eventually picks Lochlin Struan to be tai-pan. It is stated by Ian Dunross in Noble House that although the title of tai-pan was passed from one to another, Tess Struan (known as "the Hag" in her older age) maintained the real power of the Noble House until her death in 1917.
  • Lochlin Struan, a character from Asian Saga, mentioned in the 66th chapter of Noble House. Lochlin was a son of Robb Struan and the third tai-pan of Struan's. Following the death of the fourth tai-pan Dirk Dunross, Lochlin became tai-pan again. Since the fifth tai-pan is never identified, presumably Lochlin is considered both third and fifth tai-pan. In actuality, he was merely the nominal tai-pan, with actual authority being exercised by Hag Struan. Lochlin died in 1915, and was replaced as tai-pan by Ross Lechie Struan.
  • Dirk Dunross, a fictional character in the Asian Saga, mentioned in the novel Noble House, was born in 1852 and became the fourth tai-pan of Noble House. His mother was Winifred Dunross, daughter of Dirk Struan. Dirk Dunross married his cousin Agnes Struan. Their son Colin Dunross became the eighth tai-pan, and their grandson Ian Dunross the tenth. He died in 1894, lost at sea aboard Sunset Cloud.
  • Ross Lechie Struan
  • Ross Struan, father of Alastair Struan and seventh tai-pan.
  • Colin Dunross, father of Ian Dunross and eighth tai-pan.
  • Alastair Struan, ninth tai-pan; a character in the novel Noble House. He was the tai-pan of Struan's prior to Ian Dunross, running the company through most of the 1950s. His poor management led to the near collapse of Struan's, forcing him to hand control over to Ian Dunross, a man he despised, but who was the only one who could save the company. The combination of the loss of major assets at Suez in the 1950s and a reluctance for Struan's to go public almost caused the company to fail.
  • Ian Dunross, tenth tai-pan of Struan's in the novel Noble House. Dunross finds his company the target of a hostile takeover from his arch-rival Quillan Gornt at a time when it is desperately overextended. He is also embroiled in international espionage when he finds himself in possession of secret documents desperately desired by both the KGB and MI6.
  • David MacStruan, a character from the Asian Saga. He is mentioned throughout the novel Noble House and appears very briefly at the very end of the book. He is the head of Struan's operations in Canada, but is recalled to Hong Kong when he is added to the short list of potential successors to Ian Dunross. In the novel Whirlwind, MacStruan became the eleventh tai-pan after Dunross, but he died in mysterious circumstances. The only witness to the "accident" was Paul Choy, an ally of the next tai-pan Linbar Struan, casting suspicions on his account. Apparently, MacStruan was mountain climbing with Paul Choy when he fell and was fatally injured. He lived long enough for Linbar Struan to be flown to his location and be sworn in as the next tai-pan.
  • Linbar Struan, a character from the Asian Saga who appears in the novels Noble House and Whirlwind. In Noble House, Struan is a member of Struan's inner circle and an aspirant to the office of tai-pan. In Whirlwind, Struan becomes the twelfth tai-pan following the ostensibly accidental death of his predecessor David MacStruan. Struan proves to be an arrogant and incompetent tai-pan, and the Saga ends with Andrew Gavallan and Ian Dunross plotting to put him into early retirement (perhaps with Scot, Gavallan's son, poised to take over in a few years).


  • Andrew Gavallan is a character from Noble House and Whirlwind. Gavallan is a member of Struans' inner court and an aspirant to the office of tai-pan. He is married to Ian Dunross' sister Kathren. In Noble House, Gavallan works in Hong Kong with the other members of the inner court. When tai-pan Ian Dunross learns that the North Sea may soon be wide open for oil exploration, he sends Gavallan to Scotland to quietly buy up real estate in Aberdeen so they are positioned to take advantage of this trend. The North Sea oil rigs, once built, are serviced by helicopter, which leads to Gavallan being involved in the helicopter and oil services industries. These become main business ventures of Struan's in Iran during the 1970s, as depicted in Whirlwind.
  • John Chen is a character in Noble House. In the novel, Chen is the son of Phillip Chen, the compradore of Struan's. Like his father, Chen is a descendant of Dirk Struan's illegitimate son Gordon Chen (Illustrious Chen). In the beginning of the novel, Chen is Phillip's favorite son and is set to inherit the title of compradore. Chen is sent to the United States to continue his education, and later sells out both his father and the Noble House by giving vital confidential to Lincoln Bartlett, president and CEO of Par-Con Industries. Bartlett is negotiating a deal with Struan's, but secretly plans to raid Struan's with the knowledge he has obtained, and install himself as tai-pan. Chen also finds the half coin passed down through his family and knows its secret. He plans to give or sell the coin to Bartlett, but is kidnapped by a gang called "the Werewolves". Chen is killed by his captors and buried. Wu Sang Fang, aka "Four Finger Wu", a friend of Phillip Chen and Ian Dunross agrees to help find Chen. His body is found and Wu discovers the coin and knows its secret. He asks Ian Dunross the favor that comes with the half coin - using Struan's ships to smuggle opium and cocaine - but is killed in a landslide before formally giving the coin to Dunross. His son Paul Choy takes the coin, and asks his own favor of Dunross - to be a managing director of Struan's.
  • Kelly O'Gorman was Hag Struan's grandson through her daughter Rose. When the Hag was apparently on her death bed, O'Gorman tried to force her to hand over all powers of the tai-pan to him. When he brought her to a safe to retrieve the corporate seal-chop, she instead retrieved a loaded pistol and shot him dead.

Simplified family tree of the Struan dynasty[edit]

  • Parlan Struan
    • I. DIRK I, 1st tai-pan (1784-1841; Founder of Struan's and 1st tai-pan: 1828-1841) m. Ronalda (d. 1840)
      • II. Culum, 2nd tai-pan (1820-1862; 2nd tai-pan: 1841-1862) m. Tess Brock "The Hag Struan" (1824-1917)
        • Rose m. O'Gorman
          • Kelly (d. 1916)
      • Winifred m. Lechie Struan Dunross
        • IV. Dirk II Dunross, 4th tai-pan (1852-1894; 4th tai-pan: 1873-1894) m. Agnes Struan (1863-1948)
          • son (k.i.a. Gallipoli, 1916)
          • son (k.i.a. 2nd Ypres, 1915)
          • Anne (k. London Blitz, 1940?) m. Gaston deVille
            • Jacques deVille m. Susanne
              • Avril m. Borge
          • VIII. Colin, 8th tai-pan (8th tai-pan: 1930s?-1949) m. ?
            • Lechie (k.i.a. Battle of France, 1940)
            • X. Sir Ian, 10th tai-pan (b. 1922; 10th tai-pan: 1960-1970) m. (1943). Penelope Grey
              • Adryon (b. 1944)
              • Duncan (b. 1949)
              • Glenna (b. 1950)
            • Scott (1923 - k.i.a. over Dresden 1945)
            • Kathren (1925-1970) m. Andrew Gavallan (b. 1915)
              • Scot
    • Robb (1807-1841) m. Sarah McGlenn
      • Roddy
      • III and V(?). Sir Lochlin, 3rd and 5th tai-pan (1841-1915; 3rd tai-pan: 1862-1873, 5th tai-pan: 1894-1908). He had the following issue (? conjectural)
        • VII. Sir Ross "Old Hook Nose", 7th tai-pan (7th tai-pan: 1915-1930s?)
          • VI. Ross Lechie, 6th tai-pan (1887 - k.i.a. 2nd Ypres, 1915; 6th tai-pan: 1908-1915)
          • IX. Alastair, 9th tai-pan (b. 1900; 9th tai-pan: 1949-1960)
          • unknown son Struan m. ?
            • XII. Linbar, 12th tai-pan (b. 1929; 12th tai-pan: 1975-19?)



  1. ^ "FACT BEHIND FICTION - Noble House - James Clavell".
  2. ^ Noble House, Ch. 5
  3. ^ Noble House, Ch. 7
  4. ^ Noble House, Ch. 16
  5. ^ Noble House, Ch. 17
  6. ^ Noble House, Ch. 33