Episodes 502 & 503
I don’t know about you but I’m loving the new season of Outlander! There is so much HISTORY in this season, I can hardly contain myself. OK. OK, I confess. I have become a history nerd but it’s all Diana’s fault. When I fell in love with Outlander, I also fell in love with all of the wonderful history that surrounds the story. I’ve been watching the show, rereading the book and doing some research on my own. So, bear with me, as I share a few things that I’ve discovered as a result of Episode 502, Between Two Fires, and Episode 503, Free Will. Just consider it the Outlander North Carolina version of CliffsNotes. Hang on ’cause here we go! P.S. There are a lot of links in this article and they should all open in a new tab.
Did they actually occur? Yes! There were some pretty brutal mob riots by the Regulators in Orange County, North Carolina, more specifically in Hillsborough, in September, 1770. You’ll be interested to know that there is NO record of anyone being tarred and feathered during the riots. Edmund Fanning, the Crown Attorney, was dragged out of the courthouse by his feet with his head reportedly hitting each step on the way down plus they beat him and at least one other man with clubs and whips. Read more about the true story of the Hillsborough Riots and what ignited them here.
The Hillsborough Riots weren’t the beginning of violent hostilities. In fact, in 1765, there was a skirmish called the War of Sugar Creek in Mecklenburg County between the backcountry settlers and a survey crew. Once again, our friend, Edmund Fanning, is involved. He’s such a tattletale.
Not being willing to stay out of anyone’s business, Fanning reappears in 1766 after a meeting of Regulators at Hart’s Mill. I’m really beginning to not feel sorry for this guy.
Sidenote to that last link, what is James Fraser doing at Hart’s Mill and why is he a reverend?
You may remember Jamie calling the men of Rowan County to form a militia in Episode 3. (Can someone please tell me what paper Fergus grabbed and was writing Jamie’s instructions on?) Anyway, did Rowan County actually exist? Yes, it did and still does today; however, in 1770, Rowan County, North Carolina, was HUGE. Check out this map of North Carolina in 1770 which shows just how much territory comprised Rowan County in relation to the map above. At that time, the county would have encompassed at least 20 of North Carolina’s existing 100 counties today. Jamie would have had a wide pool from which to gather men for a militia as you can see.
Brownsville, North Carolina
Brownsville, North Carolina was mentioned in Episode 3 and in the books. Did it really exist? No, not that I can find BUT you will be interested to know that there was a Brownsville Plantation (ca. 1800) in Granville County, North Carolina . Granville County in 1770 would have been two counties east of Rowan. Click here for map.
From The Fiery Cross…
Brownsville Plantation was owned by Thomas Brown of Scotland. How about that? He was born in 1776 and died in 1856. The plantation also had a post office, a store and a school. As thorough as Diana is, I wonder if she happened upon Brownsville Plantation in her research. Although Brownsville Plantation would have been outside of Jamie’s “jurisdiction” plus the time frame doesn’t match, it is interesting to think about and wonder, isn’t it?
We met Herman Husband with Murtagh very briefly in Episode 2. He didn’t look at all like I envisioned him. But did he actually exist? Yes! In fact, he was instrumental in the Regulator movement, stirring up tensions in the backcountry settlers who felt unfairly treated by Governor Tryon, the local sheriffs and the wealthier Eastern North Carolina landowners. Since Husband was a Quaker, his leadership in the Regulator movement was somewhat controversial, I think we will see more of good ole’ Herman (I say that with a wink) as the season progresses.
One last thing on Husband from Episode 2, it appeared that the Regulators were assembled in a camp. Rocky Creek Baptist Church was the site of many meetings of the Regulators plus Herman Husband participated in the early history of the church. I think I’ll just imagine that’s where they were meeting in the show. Wink.
Reward For Fighting For Tryon
Thanks to our friends at Alamance Battleground State Historic Site Facebook Page for sharing the following cool bit of history with us: Circular Letter from William Tryon to commanding officers of the North Carolina militia. Among other things, Tryon’s letter spells out what each man who volunteered would receive in terms of “reward”, as Mrs. Findlay put it. It’s a very interesting letter. If you haven’t already liked the Alamance Battleground State Historic Site Facebook Page, you might want to do so by clicking the link above. Season 5 will revolve around this battle to a large extent.
Back To The Present
Welcome back to 2020! Did you enjoy your trip through time and the history as it relates to Outlander Episodes 502 & 503? I’m no scholar so I’d love to hear what you think. There are so many things I didn’t mention, either because of complete ignorance (probably) or because they might be spoilers, so I’m waiting for things to play out on the screen before I discuss them. I’m really excited about the rest of the season though and I hope you’ll join me for some more history lessons!!
Want to come to North Carolina to see these places for yourselves? Check out the following:
You won’t regret it!! Until next time, I remain…
Yours truly in North Carolina,