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Outlander Wiki

Neil Forbes[3][1] is Jocasta Innes's lawyer from Cross Creek. He is the only son of Elspeth Forbes and has one sister.

Personal History

Neil Forbes is the local lawyer in Cross Creek, where his most prominent client (until 1775) was Jocasta Innes of River Run. In early 1770, he purchased a sawmill in Averasboro. The same year, he made a proposal of marriage to Brianna Fraser of Fraser's Ridge, but she declined his suit. This rejection, in combination with several altercations with her father, Jamie Fraser, contributed to Forbes' animosity toward Fraser family.

Events of the Novels

Neil is summoned to River Run by Jocasta Cameron to update her will. Jocasta wishes to leave her plantation to her great-niece Brianna Fraser and Brianna's unborn child. His invitation was for more than just the change of the will; Jocasta has it in mind to host a dinner for several eligible men that she considers suitable marriage prospects for Brianna.

During the dinner party, Neil shows Brianna a collection of gemstones, asking her opinion on them. Brianna realizes that this is merely a pretense to have her select one to use for his proposal. Brianna defers to Mrs. Alderdyce's opinion, admitting that she has no taste for gemstones. While Brianna is seated next to Lord John Grey for the meal, Neil's sister tries to bring attention back to him by regaling Brianna with stories about him.

Neil's potential proposal is dismissed when it is eventually announced that Brianna has accepted Lord John Grey's proposal.

Neil attends the Gathering at Mount Helicon, though he is only mentioned when Corporal MacNair reads off the names of men that Lieutenant Archibald Hayes wants to see.

Neil is one of the many guests that attends the wedding of Jocasta and Duncan Innes at River Run in March 1771.

He later is seen at the Battle of Alamance, when he offers a sheet of his paper to Claire Fraser as she attempts to save Isaiah Morton's life in his tent. He offers his services in regards to Morton's wife – or rather, wives.

Neil Forbes attends Jocasta's barbecue held in honor of Flora MacDonald with a group of like-minded individuals. He and his companions are not at all of the same loyalist mind as Flora MacDonald, and they leave in something of a huff while Flora is still giving her speech.

A few days later, Forbes, along with a group of like-minded men, gather in Cross Creek outside the print shop of Fogarty Simms – whose Loyalist leanings have made him very unpopular with the local Whigs – with intent to tar and feather the man. Jamie Fraser takes exception to this, and manages to turn the sway of the crowd from riot to entertainment. From upstairs, Fergus and Ian take the confiscated tar and feathers that were intended for Simms and use them on Forbes instead, leaving him a laughing stock in the town.

In May 1775, Roger MacKenzie and Jamie Fraser encounter Forbes in Charlotte, where delegates from Mecklenburg County intend to meet on the matter of relations with Great Britain. Forbes challenges Jamie's pledge of in support of liberty, and the men spar with words in both Gaelic and English.

In June 1775, seizing an opportunity to get the Frasers out of the way, Forbes suggests to Richard Brown that Claire Fraser be taken to New Bern, where a sheriff he is acquainted with would be able to take her to trial for the murder of Malva Christie. This plan does not end up having the intended result, as Claire is released after Thomas Christie confesses to murdering his daughter.

The next opportunity for revenge against the Frasers comes in August 1775, when Forbes has Brianna MacKenzie kidnapped from River Run and handed over to the notorious Stephen Bonnet. Upon learning that Forbes had a hand in Brianna's abduction, Jamie's holds Forbes' elderly mother hostage, while Roger MacKenzie and Young Ian interrogate the lawyer. They make it very clear, using Mrs. Forbes' brooch as proof that Jamie has her, that his mother is in danger.

Forbes tries to protest that Jamie is a gentleman and would never hurt an old woman. The two men counter, pointing out that Jamie is certainly more fond of his daughter than Forbes' mother, and while he may be a gentleman, he is still a Highlander. To secure his mother's safety, Forbes finally confesses that he arranged Brianna's capture and paid a "Captain Bonnet" to transport her to England. This confession earns him a busted nose from Roger's wrath, and the removal of his ear by Ian.


Neil is a man with a fair degree of pride that doesn't suffer public slight well.

Physical Appearance

Neil has a round face. He is missing one ear.


  • Cornelius is a Roman family name which possibly derives from the Latin element cornu "horn".[4]
  • Gerald is from a Germanic name meaning "rule of the spear", from the elements ger "spear" and wald "rule".[5]
  • Hamish is the Anglicized form of a Sheumais, the vocative case of Seumas[6], the Scottish form of James[7], the English form of the Late Latin name Iacomus which was derived from Ιακωβος (Iakobos), the New Testament Greek form of the Hebrew name Ya'aqov (Jacob). Thus, the names James and Jacob derive from the same source. Possible meanings of the name Jacob include "holder of the heel", "supplanter", or "may God protect".[8][9]
  • McKay is an Anglicized form of Mac Aodha,[10] meaning "son of Aodah".[11]
  • Forbes was originally taken from a Scottish place name meaning "field" in Gaelic.[12]


TV Series

Scottish actor Billy Boyd portrays Neil Forbes in the STARZ Outlander television series.


Season Four

Season Five


Season Four


  1. 1.0 1.1 Gabaldon, Diana. "Gerald or Neil Forbes?." MSG: 67136.12. Diana Gabaldon. Books and Writers Community. Compuserve. Published 6 December 2010. Accessed 1 December 2017. 
  2. A Breath of Snow and Ashes, chapter 55. Claire notes that he is near in height to Brianna, standing head and shoulders over the crowd.
  3. Also referred to as Gerald Forbes.
  4. Behind the Name: Cornelius - accessed 05 July 2016
  5. Behind the Name: Gerald - accessed 05 July 2016
  6. Behind the Name: Hamish - accessed 12 May 2016
  7. Behind the Name:Seumas - accessed 12 May 2016
  8. Behind the Name: James – Accessed 19 April 2015.
  9. Behind the Name: Jacob – Accessed 19 April 2015.
  10. Behind the Name Surname: McKay - accessed 05 July 2016
  11. Behind the Name Surname: Mac Aodha - accessed 05 July 2016
  12. Behind the Name: Forbes - accessed 05 July 2016
  13. The Fiery Cross, chapter 72.