An Explosive Saga Spanning Two Continents!
This is a tale of two men—Thomas McDonnell, master carpenter and stonemason; and Harold Marston Fitch, heir to the title Viscount of Dermont in the County of Meath—“rebels abroad” who take radically different paths on two different continents. Both are strong-willed men separated by class, politics and religion—inextricably linked by Brigid McDonnell, Thomas’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Harold’s secret lover.
In 1739-1740, Ireland is stricken by a severe cold wave known to history as the “The Great Frost.” Evicted from their cottage, Thomas and Brigid must seek lodgings in Dublin in a time when the Protestant nobility marginalized and persecuted Catholics with a set of restrictions known as the Penal Laws. As famine and riots rage across the island, the McDonnells embark on a voyage to the American colony of Maryland. But the Atlantic crossing is a dangerous one, complicated by Great Britain’s war with Spain and the onset of hurricane season. Tragedy and hardship beset the family, ultimately forcing Thomas to become an indentured servant. He must adjust to his new life on a Maryland tobacco plantation, living among slaves and observing the institution of slavery close up.
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Harold’s drinking and debauchery lead to expulsion from Dermont Manor and his enlistment in the prestigious Inniskilling Dragoons, an adventure that weaponizes his already-frightening tendencies and hones his considerable skills. From daring anti-smuggling raids on the Lincolnshire coast to the wild underworld of Georgian London, and finally to the battlefields of the Holy Roman Empire, Harold ascends in rank and becomes a top-rate soldier, earning the respect and loyalty of those in his command. At the same time he descends gradually into the world of the psychopath—although this term did not exist in the 1740’s. A true narcissist and con-artist, liar and manipulator, Harold grows more sinister as the story progresses.
Driven by impulsivity, feelings of entitlement and superiority, promiscuity and other forms of self-gratification, he seizes upon opportunities which bring him even more success. But he is compelled to expose a dark family secret and to find those who betrayed him.
Rebels Abroad is first and foremost a novel. Set in Georgian Ireland, London, England, the Lincolnshire coast, and the European continent—it tells the story of two men, “Rebels Abroad.” The narrative crosses the Atlantic to colonial Maryland in the 1740’s. As a former history teacher/college instructor, I endeavor through research, travel, and interviews to present an accurate portrait of daily life in the Irish countryside and in the sprawling city of Dublin, and to show what it was like to live under the heel of an oppressive government.
In 1739 and 1740 Ireland, like most of northern Europe, experienced a weather event known as the “Great Frost,” one of the coldest winters recorded in world history. The bitter weather and subsequent drought led to a famine that killed between 20-38% percent of the Irish population. Cemeteries provide only fragmentary information, but it is certain that Ireland suffered proportionally more casualties than during the “Potato Famine” a century later. Few could escape the following Bliain an Áir, the “Year of Slaughter.” A small number emigrated to America; passenger ships were rare in those years. This is a period virtually lost to history and is known by some historians as “the forgotten famine.”
The Protestant Ascendancy was in full swing in the 1740’s. Religious persecution intruded into all aspects of Irish Catholics’ lives. Priests were informed upon by “priest-hunters” and publicly executed for holding Mass, officiating at weddings, performing baptisms and preaching at funerals. The nobility ran roughshod over the poor, charging exorbitant rents, levying fines, and restricting economic opportunities. “Penal Laws” excluded Catholics from most public offices, the legal professions and the judiciary. The laws limited land inheritance, forbade education at home and abroad, and barred Catholics from owning firearms and serving in the army. Catholics could not vote. A deliberate governmental policy intended to eradicate Irish culture by outlawing its religion and long-standing traditions. But each repressive measure sparked a growing backlash of unity that would ultimately lead to a free Ireland. In 2011 Queen Elizabeth II paid a royal visit to “the Emerald Isle,” the first-ever visit by a reigning British monarch. Her reconciliation speech at the state dinner in Dublin Castle acknowledged centuries of previous wrongdoing, and her words were greeted across the Irish political spectrum with near-universal praise.
As Great Britain gained hegemony among the nations of Europe, she found herself surrounded by enemies. By 1740 Spain and Great Britain were at war. This confrontation expanded into the bloody and inconclusive “War of the Austrian Succession.” The Battle of Dettingen marked the last time a reigning British monarch led troops in combat. King George II is presented as the brave soldier he was, but his divisiveness and lack of experience almost resulted in a major defeat. Many of his words in Rebels Abroad were actually spoken; of course some dialog was invented to fit the narrative. His actions are also a matter of record—he did lose control of his mount, marched to front of his army, faced the charging French soldiers with only a sword, and afterwards presented the rare “Knight Banneret” to award British soldiers for distinguished conduct. This is an honor which can only be bestowed by a monarch on the battlefield.
The weapons of war and battle tactics of the 1740’s are well-documented in regimental histories, private accounts, military reports, and governmental records. The Earl of Stair, Commander of the Pragmatic Army, was real, and many of the commanders—British, Hanoverian, and Austrian—are depicted in the novel. Drawing upon my travel experiences in Germany, old battlefield maps, numerous histories, written descriptions, and modern satellite photos, I was able to recreate the Battle of Dettingen, the so-called “Miracle on the Main.”
Smuggling and anti-smuggling efforts feature heavily in Rebels Abroad. Parliament passed laws to prevent foreign ships from “hovering” off the coast, and it enacted legislation to disrupt networks of smugglers ashore. Customs officials and dragoons faced an impossible task, because almost everyone in Great Britain was involved in smuggling. Court records show that people from all walks of life participated in the illegal activities—even the customs officials themselves. Royal Navy revenue cutters enjoyed some success in intercepting foreign ships, but they too were overwhelmed.
The novel shifts to colonial Maryland to depict life on a Chesapeake tobacco plantation, drawing numerous comparisons to society, economics, and politics in Georgian Ireland. The large, self-sustaining plantations shared much in common with the great estates of the Old World—complete with a ruling upper class and an exploited underclass living under harsh rules and restrictions. Religious persecution overrode Maryland’s Toleration Act as changes enacted by British monarchs and Parliament extended to the colonies. Indentured servitude is contrasted with the growing economic institution of slavery. Arguments are presented on both sides of the issue. Planters also disagreed on farming methods and the implementation of tobacco inspection laws. Failure to adopt standards, similar to those in Virginia, caused Maryland prices to plummet to their lowest levels in history. Few planters were willing to diversify, despite laws ordering them to do so; most ignored the new European concepts of crop rotation which reached Annapolis in the form of pamphlets.
Life along the Chesapeake could be harsh, but the settlers’ diet ranked among the best in the world. The forests provided deer, turkey, rabbit, squirrel, quail and all sorts of edible game, nuts, fruits, and berries. Rich soil could produce almost any crop; livestock flourished on the lush pastures. Chesapeake Bay teemed with fish, crabs, oysters, and turtles. Massive flocks of geese and ducks wintered in the many rivers, inlets, estuaries, coves, and ponds. And the abundance of cold spring water amazed those who had lived in dirty and overcrowded cities where good drinking water was almost non-existent.
The colonies represented opportunity for many, but the yoke of colonial rule was not easy to bear. Despite close ties with the mother country, the undercurrents of revolution were already present. Taxes, repressive laws, and religious restrictions were no strangers to the transplanted Irish folk. Perhaps no other segment of the colonial population was more motivated to support the American Revolution. It is estimated that Irish colonials made up between forty and fifty percent of George Washington’s Continental Army. But revolution would not occur for decades. Perhaps a plot for a future novel…
Passion and violence collide in a drama of epic proportions. Set against a turbulent age of starvation and riots, oppression and war, Rebels Abroad teems with a vivid cast of heroes and villains.
“Eddie Price gives you a hero to love and a villain to hate.”
Terry Wood Avid reader of history and historic fiction- Florida
“A thrilling account of history laced with romance, intrigue, greed and war. To visit history through such captivating characters and their explicit story is a real treat.”
Kay Whitehouse Florida Authors & Publishers Association Award-winning children’s series, A Hand Truck Named Dolly.
“Rebels Abroad is a riveting saga of intrigue, murder, duplicity, and warfare. Eddie Price transports readers back to Ireland during the “Great Frost” and across the Atlantic to the American colonies. His books always entertain as they teach.”
Debra Gaynor, Amazon Vine Voice Reviewer, Author of Stuck in a Bucket
“A wonderful storyteller, Eddie Price interweaves 18th Century European warfare with life on a Maryland tobacco plantation.
Kathy Cummings, Editor of Pioneer Times USA
“I thoroughly enjoyed the novel. A host of intriguing characters—heroes and villains, men and women—keep you turning pages until the very end. Through their adventures and trials the reader experiences life in the 18th Century—oppression, slavery, day-to-day living, warfare, romance—and much more. The conclusion left me wanting the next book.
Paul Madden, Country Lawyer, Hancock County Kentucky
Eddie Price presents a number of acclaimed educational programs across the United States.
He often visits grades K-12, colleges, and universities; historical and genealogical societies; libraries, museums, and patriotic groups; book clubs and chambers of commerce—sometimes presenting nine programs in a single day.
Eddie's other books:
One Drop—A Slave!
An Unlikely Trio—The Winners of the 1913 Kentucky Derby
Little Miss Grubby Toes Steps on a Bee!
Little Miss Grubby Toes Plays with Fire!
Little Miss Grubby Toes Falls in the Pool!
Little Miss Grubby Toes Eats Too Much Candy!
Little Miss Grubby Toes Gets Stuck in a Tree!
Little Miss Grubby Toes Gets Lost!
Eddie Price, author of the award-winning historical fiction novels Widder’s Landing and One Drop—A Slave!, and the illustrated children’s books, Little Miss Grubby Toes Steps on a Bee!, Little Miss Grubby Toes Plays with Fire!, Little Miss Grubby Toes Falls in the Pool,! Little Miss Grubby Toes Eats Too Much Candy! and Little Miss Grubby Toes Gets Stuck in a Tree! (All “Gold Medal” winners at the Mom’s Choice Awards.)
He has also written a sports history entitled The Unlikely Trio—The Winners of the 1913 Kentucky Derby.
A lifelong native of Kentucky, Eddie is a Chautauqua performer and a Speaker for the Kentucky Humanities Council. A graduate of Kentucky Wesleyan College (BA) and Western Kentucky University (MA and Rank I), Eddie taught history for 36 years (31 at Hancock County High School). He also taught part-time classes for 21 years at Owensboro Community & Technical College. In that time he received Ashland Oil’s Golden Apple Teaching Award, was included in Who’s Who Among America’s High School Teachers, and won the Outstanding American History Teacher Award from KATH (Kentucky Association for the Teachers of History) and KCSS (Kentucky Council for the Social Studies.) Murray State University named him Outstanding Kentucky High School Teacher in 2000. He also received the Excellence in Teaching Award from Campbellsville University, Kentucky in 2012.
His students voted him “Teacher of the Year” numerous times. Eddie has coached many award-winning academic teams and history contest winners. He is active in the Hancock County Historical Society and helped organize the Young Historians Club there. Eddie has emceed and presented at the “Readers Favorite Awards” in conjunction with the Miami Book Fair, at Florida Authors & Publishers Conferences in 2019 and 2021, and presented twice for “Authors in Schools” at the Amelia Island Book Fest, 2019, 2020.
**Designated a “Kentucky Writer” by the Kentucky Arts Council 2012
* *Kentucky Humanities Council Speaker’s Bureau 2012-present
**Kentucky Chautauqua Performer, 2016-present,
**Kentucky Historical Society/Kentucky Bicentennial Commission War of 1812 endorsement.
**Endorsed by the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives
** Widder’s Landing received the National Society United States Daughters of 1812 “Spirit of 1812 Award” http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mimssusd/spirit-1812.pdf
**Novel Widder’s Landing honored on the Kentucky Senate Floor and recognized by Kentucky Governor Steven Beshear
**Commendation from Kentucky State Senate
**Presented to Kentucky Governors Steve Beshear and Matt Bevin, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
**Widder’s Landing named “Gold Medalist” in the 2013 Reader’s Favorite Award Contest: for Best Historical Fiction at the 2013 Miami International Book Fair; Gold Medal, National Literary Habitat Award.
**Widder’s Landing was included in the 2014 Kentucky State Fair Special Exhibitions Bibliography http://www.kystatefair.org/education/2014%20Education%20Materials/Annotated%20Teacher%20Bibliography.pdf
**National review in “1812 War Cry” Magazine Winter 2014, General Society of the War of 1812
**Review in “Kentucky Pioneer” the Kentucky State Sons of the American Revolution newsletter.
**Juried and accepted as a Kentucky work at the Kentucky Artisan Center, Berea, KY
**Presenter for the Carnegie Center, Lexington—summer children’s programs
**Director, Hancock County Museum
**Board Member, Hancock County Historical Society
**Author of the “Little Miss Grubby Toes” Misadventure Series. June 2015-ongoing
**Little Miss Grubby Toes Steps on a Bee! Gold Medalist in the 2015 Mom’s Choice Awards for “Values & Life Lessons” and the 2015 Readers Favorite Award for Best Preschool Children’s Book.
*Widder’s Landing, 2015 Gold Medal “Best Historical Fiction” National Literary Habitat Award.
**Little Miss Grubby Toes Steps on a Bee! selected for the Renaissance Learning Incorporated Accelerated Reading Quiz program. 2016.
**Little Miss Grubby Toes Steps on a Bee! Gold Medal, Illustrated Children’s Books Age 7-12, Florida Authors & Publishers Association.
**An Unlikely Trio: The Winners of the 1913 Kentucky Derby (sports history) published 2017
**Little Miss Grubby Toes Plays with Fire! (illustrated children’s book) published 2018, Silver Medal Florida Authors and Publishers Award, Gold Medal, Mom’s Choice Awards.
**One Drop—A Slave! 2018 Gold Medal “Best Historical Fiction,” Florida Authors and Publishers Awards 2020
Little Miss Grubby Toes Falls in the Pool! Summer 2019; Gold Medal, Mom’s Choice Awards, Gold Medal Florida Authors and Publishers Awards 2021
Little Miss Grubby Toes Eats Too Much Candy! Gold Medal, Mom’s Choice Awards 2021 Little Miss Grubby Toes Gets Stuck in a Tree!! Gold Medal, Mom’s Choice Awards 2021; Gold Medal, Florida Authors & Publishers Awards 2021.