Who Is John Stirling, Earl of Kilmartin, in “Bridgerton” Season Three?

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Who Is John Stirling in Bridgerton?Netflix

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Season three of Bridgerton may be all about Colin and Penelope's love story, but it also introduced a new romantic interest for Colin's younger sister, Francesca, in its third episode.

After being selected as the diamond of the season, Francesca (Hannah Dodd) is introduced to Lord Samadani (David Mumeni), Queen Charlotte's (Golda Rosheuvel) preferred match for her. Though the two get along well enough at the beginning, Francesca is immediately turned off when Lord Samadani reveals he wants eight children—a figure that doesn't bode well for the introverted pianist who longs for peace outside of the hectic Bridgerton family home.

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When she escapes the ballroom to catch a moment of quiet outside, she meets Lord John Stirling, Earl of Kilmartin (Victor Alli), who has stepped outside for the same reason. For a beat, the two revel in the silence together. They don't say much, but the smiles on their faces hint that they may both feel like they have at last found the person who understands them.

To many fans of the original Julia Quinn novels, John's season three introduction came as a surprise. Indeed, Netflix kept the details of his appearance hush-hush prior to the May 16 release date.

Ahead, we break down what to know about the Earl of Kilmartin. But—be forewarned, gentle reader—spoilers lie ahead.

When does John Stirling appear in the Bridgerton books?

John first makes an appearance in the sixth installment of the Bridgerton series, When He Was Wicked. However, his story is short-lived. Soon after he marries Francesca, John unexpectedly dies due to what medical experts would now recognize as a brain aneurysm.

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When He Was Wicked (Bridgertons Book 6)



The loss devastates Francesca. The rest of her book follows her discovering a second-chance at love with the new Earl of Kilmartin—John's heir, best friend, and cousin, Michael Stirling.

Since When He Was Wicked begins two years after John and Francesca wed, the character's inclusion in season three of the Netflix regency adaptation provides some background into the start of Francesca's relationship with her first husband.

“I think we quickly realized that John and Francesca are quite odd, and different from... the other people who have the sort of intense love moments,” actor Victor Alli said of his character in a recent interview with Deadline. “I think it’s quite nice to play something quite different and alternative. We’ve got to explore the different ways in which connections can be made without ripping each other’s clothes off. It was quite nice as an actor. It’s a great challenge to connect with another actor without actually saying words.”

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What will happen to John Stirling in part two of season three?

Season three part one brought us one step forward in John and Francesca's blossoming courtship. John has a musical composition rearranged to Francesca's liking, which he then gifts to her at a social event. She then rushes home from the party to play the piece on her piano.

Alli hinted at what's in store for the couple in part two.

“I think we can expect them to come out of their shells a bit,” he told Deadline. “John starts to be acquainted with more people, more of the family. He has no choice but to be more bold and declare his love. So we really go on a journey of not speaking and being content with that, then having to speak a lot more—more than what is probably natural for us. I think we learn very quickly that if we want this to work, if we really want to do this…we have to make it known and really fight for it.”

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