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 is a man with a fair degree of pride that doesn't suffer public slight well.
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".
- Gerald is from a Germanic name meaning "rule of the spear", from the elements ger "spear" and wald "rule".
- Hamish is the Anglicized form of a Sheumais, the vocative case of Seumas, the Scottish form of James, 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".
- McKay is an Anglicized form of Mac Aodha, meaning "son of Aodah".
- Forbes was originally taken from a Scottish place name meaning "field" in Gaelic.
- The piece of paper that Neil gives to Claire while she is treating Isaiah Morton has the starting of a letter "My darling Valencia,". The only Valencia Claire knows near Cross Creek is Farquard Campbell's wife.
- Gabaldon, Diana. "Gerald or Neil Forbes?." MSG: 67136.12. Diana Gabaldon. Books and Writers Community. Compuserve. Published 6 December 2010. Accessed 1 December 2017.
- 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.
- Also referred to as Gerald Forbes.
- Behind the Name: Cornelius - accessed 05 July 2016
- Behind the Name: Gerald - accessed 05 July 2016
- Behind the Name: Hamish - accessed 12 May 2016
- Behind the Name:Seumas - accessed 12 May 2016
- Behind the Name: James – Accessed 19 April 2015.
- Behind the Name: Jacob – Accessed 19 April 2015.
- Behind the Name Surname: McKay - accessed 05 July 2016
- Behind the Name Surname: Mac Aodha - accessed 05 July 2016
- Behind the Name: Forbes - accessed 05 July 2016
- The Fiery Cross, chapter 72.