John Melmoth’s Uncle, who, though not a superstitious man, believes a stranger has been lurking about his house. He dies and leaves his property to his nephew with instructions to destroy a hidden portrait of an earlier John Melmoth.
Melmoth the Wanderer, a seventeenth century ancestor of young John Melmoth, also named John. He is doomed to wander the earth for a century and a half while trying to seduce souls to Satan. He wins not one soul in that time. Finally, he returns to his home in Ireland. He ends his life by plunging, or being thrown, over a cliff.
Mr. Stanton, an Englishman who leaves a manuscript telling the strange story of Melmoth the Wanderer. Stanton met the Wanderer in Spain, angered him, and was cursed. Because of the curse, Stanton was confined in Bedlam as a madman; he was visited by the Wanderer, who offered to secure Stanton’s release from the asylum if Stanton would sell his soul to Satan. Stanton refused.
Alonzo Moncada, a Spaniard shipwrecked near the Melmoth home. While imprisoned by the Inquisition, he was approached by the Wanderer, who offered freedom in exchange for Moncada’s soul. Moncada refused, but he later escaped prison anyway.
An Old Jewish Doctor, who makes a study of the history of the Wanderer. He tells Moncada about the daughter of Don Francisco di Aliaga, who was shipwrecked as an infant and grew up on an uninhabited island where she was visited by the Wanderer and fell in love with him. After she was found and returned home, the Wanderer visited her again, and they were married in a Satanic ceremony. Found out, she was turned over to the Inquisition. She died shortly after giving birth to the Wanderer’s child. Her dying words expressed the hope that both she and the Wanderer would enter Heaven.