“From Hillsborough Town the First of May”


"From Hillsborough town the first of May Marched those murdering traitors. They went to oppose the honest men That were called Regulators." Hamilton leads the regulators to raid the town


One of four "regulator" songs in Brown. The regulators were a group of protesters against high taxes and fees, found mostly in North Carolina though some also were active in South Carolina.

The Regulators formally organized in 1766, when William Tryon (1725-1788) was governor of North Carolina (1765-1771) ; he defeated them at Almance in 1771. That was Tryon's way; as governor of New York (1771-1778) he was equally harsh. His successors then turned to compromise.

The notes in Brown relate this to the 1768 raid on Hillsborough town: The authorities seized assorted items for back taxes, Regulators went to retake the items, Husband and Harmon were arrested, and Ninian Bell Hamilton led a raid to rescue the leaders. This is almost certainly the true setting -- but we note that Husband and Harmon aren't mentioned in the extent text of the song; the only people named are Hamilton and Edmund Fanning. - RBW

Historical references

  • Apr 30, 1768 - Arrest of Regulator leaders Harmon Husband and William Butler
  • May 3, 1768 - Rescue of the arrested leaders

Cross references


  1. BrownII 278, "From Hillsborough Town the First of May" (1 text)
  2. BI, BrII278


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1927 (Brown)
Keywords: political rescue
Found in: US(SE)