Rachel Murray is the sister of Denzell Hunter and wife of Ian Fraser Murray. She is a Quaker supporting her brother's choice to serve as an army surgeon with the American rebels during the Revolutionary War, thus the two were put out of meeting.
Rachel's mother died when she was born, and her father drowned three years later. The local Religious Society of Friends supported her and her brother, Denzell, until he could become apprenticed and learn a trade. Some of their neighbors sought out any kin to the Hunters, one of whom was Londoner and famous surgeon John Hunter. Twice, John provided Denny a way to travel. First, he journeyed to Philadelphia and attended the new medical college there. Next, he made a trip to London to learn with Dr. Hunter himself. Meanwhile, Rachel stayed with a woman in her village until Denny returned, then kept his house for him.
As tensions rose between England and the American colonies, the larger meetings of Quakers determined that the best course would be to reconcile with England. However, a few (including Denny) prayed on the matter and concluded that liberty, as a gift from God, was worth joining the fight. Their meeting dismissed Denny and Rachel. Rachel followed Denny when he left to join the Continental army to provide his services as a surgeon.
Events of the Novels
An Echo in the Bone
In early summer 1777, Rachel meets Ian Fraser Murray when he comes to a small Quaker settlement Oak Grove in search of medical help for William Ransom. Rachel and her brother Dr. Denzell Hunter tend to William's wounds. Several days later, they sell their house and travel north, accompanied by William – Denny intends to join the Continental army as a surgeon, and Rachel as a camp follower.
On their journey, they encounter a Mr. Johnson and his wife, and decide to spend the night at their house, as it's the only shelter from the rain in the near distance. However, they feel uneasy in the Johnsons' company. In the middle of the night, Mr. Johnson tries to kill William with an ax – and is subsequently killed in the fight – while Mrs. Johnson attempts to cut Denny's throat, but is restrained by the Hunters.
Some days later, Rachel and Denzell part company with William at a nameless crossroad in New Jersey. They join the Continental army at Fort Ticonderoga, where they meet and befriend Jamie and Claire. Rachel also meets Ian Murray again, and they become fond of each other.
In October, Ian delivers a tin of goose grease for Denzell to Rachel's tent, and kisses her. Rachel hits him, but after the initial shock passes, allows him to hold her hand for a moment. She says that "they mustn't", and Ian leaves, feeling that he might not be able to control himself if she touches him again. Rachel realizes how strong her feeling for Ian is, but she is scared of getting involved with him – she is a Quaker, and he is a man of violence, and marriage between them would likely mean that she would be put out of meeting. She asks Denzell to pray for her. A few hours after the kiss, Ian kills a man and is forced to run, and Rachel offers to take care of his wounded dog Rollo in his absence.
In late November 1777, William Ransom comes to Valley Forge under a flag of truce to fetch Dr. Hunter for his cousin Henry Grey, who is seriously wounded. The Hunters go with William to Philadelphia, bringing Rollo with them. At Christmas, Denzell operates on Henry, and is later reunited with Lady Dorothea Grey, with whom he fell in love when he was in London. Denzell and Dottie become engaged.
In April 1778, Claire Fraser arrives in Philadelphia and tells Rachel that Ian has come back from Scotland with her. Rachel is overjoyed when she learns that Ian has gone looking for her. She then assists Claire in her grandson's surgery, and keeps Dottie and William company while Claire and Denzell operate on Henry Grey.
In May, Rachel goes shopping and Rollo picks up Ian's scent and runs away from her. While Rachel chases the dog, Arch Bug captures her and wants to know if she is in love with Ian – a year earlier, Ian killed his wife and Mr. Bug said he would have his revenge when Ian had someone he loved. William comes to Rachel's rescue, and Arch Bug hurts him with an ax. Claire dresses William's wound, and later tells Rachel the story of Mrs. Bug's death, and that Arch Bug means Rachel harm because of how Ian feels about her. In late May/early June, Rachel helps out Marsali by keeping an eye on Fergus's printshop, when Arch Bug comes in and seizes her. Ian arrives and shields Rachel with his body, then he and Rollo attack Mr. Bug. Eventually, William comes to the printshop and shoots Mr. Bug. On June 18, Ian and Rachel watch the British army leaving Philadelphia. Ian tells her that he would turn Quaker for her, but it would be against his nature. Rachel replies that she knows he is a wolf, but he is her wolf, and if he hunts at night, he will come home to her.
Written in My Own Heart's Blood
In mid-June 1778, Young Ian tells Rachel how he became a Mohawk and about his marriage to Wakyo'teyehsnonhsa. On their way to Philadelphia, they meet William, and Rachel informs him about their engagement. William, who has feelings for Rachel, is enraged and hits Ian, and gets Ian arrested for assaulting an officer. Rachel is furious with William, calls him a coward and a brute, and slaps him. William forcefully kisses her and they part company on bad terms. Moments later, Rachel meets Jamie Fraser and tells him what has happened, and Jamie goes to talk to William to get Ian released. Ian and Rachel then come to Lord John Grey's house, where Ian is reunited with his mother Jenny Murray.
Rachel and Ian marry in Philadelphia in late July/early August. In late spring 1779, Ian returns to the Fraser's Ridge in North Carolina, bringing his pregnant wife Rachel with him. Their first son is born in early June 1779.
Rachel is kind, generous and compassionate by nature. Her faith is important to her-- she strongly adheres to her Quaker beliefs and principles and refuses to break them. Though she may not appear so, she is very stubborn, strong-willed and determined. Although living in a patriarchal society, Rachel refuses to let men treat her as anything other than an equal.
Rachel rarely loses her temper; the only times she does are when she is insulted by William Ransom and arguing with her brother Denzell during their joint wedding. She is very honest and direct, and can be ironic at times.
Rachel has brown eyes and dark hair. She dresses modestly, in shades of cream and butternut. She wears a bronzy colored brooch, made of her mother's hair. When drawn up to her full height, she is as tall as Claire.
Rachel meets Ian Murray in summer 1777, when he brings wounded William Ransom to her Quaker settlement seeking medical help. Some days later, Ian visits her house briefly to inquire about William's health. They meet again in a militia camp, where Rachel's brother Denzell is an army surgeon, and Ian's uncle Jamie a colonel. The Hunters befriend Claire and Jamie, who assists Ian in rescuing a captured (by the British) Denzell from being hanged.
Ian develops feelings for Rachel. In October 1777, delivering a tin of goose grease for her brother, Ian kisses Rachel. Unfortunately for him, she hits him (but after the first shock agrees him to hold hands). Clearly, the feelings are mutual, and Ian fears losing self-control if she touches him again, and that Rachel might be killed by Arch Bug because of Ian's love for her, and he leaves. He then asks Jamie and Claire to talk to Denzell, who respects them, about Ian's intentions to marry Rachel. Unfortunately, they never have the chance as Mr. X appears in order to blackmail Jamie. Ian kills Mr. X and has to flee, and Rachel offers to take care of wounded Rollo for him.
They are reunited in May/June 1778, when Ian and William stop Mr. Bug's attempt to take Rachel's life. The two become engaged and marry in a double Quaker wedding in late July/early August. In September, they learn that Rachel is expecting their first child. In early June 1779, Rachel gives birth to a their son who isn't named yet, but is affectionately called Oggy.
Rachel is extremely loyal to her brother, Denzell Hunter, willingly joining him in the Continental Army and being put out of meeting with him. She cares deeply for him as a sister.
Though William's feelings for Rachel are romantic, Rachel's feelings for William are platonic. She cares very much for him; however, she isn't above fighting back if William is behaving idiotically or making her angry.
- Rachel is from the Hebrew name רָחֵל (Rachel) meaning "ewe".
- Mary is an usual English form of Maria, its meaning is not known for certain, but there are several theories including "sea of bitterness", "rebelliousness", and "wished for child". However it was most likely originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry "beloved" or mr "love".
- Hunter is an occupational name which referred to someone who hunted for a living, from Old English hunta.
- Murray is derived from the region in Scotland called Moray meaning "seaboard settlement".
- Age as of the end of Written in My Own Heart's Blood.
- A "meeting" in the Quaker sense of the word refers to a group of Friends, usually regionally based, that meets regularly. E.g., Philadelphia Meeting refers to the large body of Friends within the Philadelphia area. "Meeting" in this sense of community is akin to the word "church" used by other Christian denominations.
- To be "put out" or "read out" of meeting is to be effectively disowned by one's community or church, leaving the affected party to seek a new meeting that may accept them, or to live without the communal support that comes with belonging to a meeting.
- There is some inconsistency in An Echo in the Bone:
- On June 12, 1777, the Frasers and Ian Murray are at Fort Ticonderoga. Claire talks to Ian about his problems with having children, and he leaves the Fort the next day (Chapter 35).
- On June 21, 1777, William Ransom is wandering through the Great Dismal (Chapter 36). A few days later, he is wounded and meets Ian Murray who helps him to get to a Quaker settlement in search of medical care (Chapter 37). William is tended by Rachel Hunter (Chapter 38). William then travels with Rachel and Denzell north for some weeks and they part ways in New Jersey (Chapters 41–42). Denzell intends to join the Continental army as a surgeon.
- On June 18, 1777, Claire writes in a letter to Brianna and Roger from Fort Ticonderoga that Ian left the fort a month ago, and that "the new influx of recruits brought with it a young Quaker doctor named Denzell Hunter and his sister, Rachel" (Chapter 43).
- Behind the Name: Rachel - accessed 15 June 2016
- Behind the Name: Mary - accessed 15 June 2016
- Behind the Name Surname: Hunter - accessed 15 June 2016
- Behind the Name – Surnames – Accessed 17 March 2014