Denmark Tanny features in the popular Netflix mystery-drama show Outer Banks, but most viewers are unaware that the character represents a real historical figure.

Discover all you need to know about Denmark Vesey as we explore their role in the show along with the historical background and much more!

Watch out, spoilers ahead!

Outer Banks 2 | Official Trailer | Netflix

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Outer Banks 2 | Official Trailer | Netflix
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Who is Denmark Tanny in Outer Banks?

Denmark Tanny was referred to in the Outer Banks series as an enslaved citizen on the Royal Merchant, a ship carrying gold that was lost at sea in 1641.

However, after the ship went down in rough weather, Denmark escaped with the gold and was able to buy his own freedom.

Let’s recap Tanny’s feature in season one…

We are first introduced to Tanny when John B finds a new clue about the gold from a picture in Sarah’s home.

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John B realises Sarah lives on Tanneyhill, a plantation once owned by a freedman named Denmark Tanny before recalling that he was present on the Royal Merchant.

Confused? This meant that if he had bought a plantation, Denmark was probably the sole shipwreck survivor who escaped with the gold.

During Sarah and John B’s trip to the University of North Carolina, they studied Denmark’s diary and found a letter he had written to his son in a creole language named Gullah.

With help, the pair discover that on the day Denmark was lynched, he informed his son to “harvest the wheat near the water in parcel nine forthwith.”

John B’s realisation that ‘wheat’ is slang for ‘British gold’ implied that wherever parcel nine is on Tanneyhill, is likely where the treasure is buried!

They then manage to find Tanney’s gold in a well under a house in parcel nine and although Ward Cameron steals the gold away from them, the Tanney story picked up again in season two…

Netflix character represents a real, historical figure

Although Outer Banks follows a fictional treasure hunt, the show shares some real aspects from historical moments in the past.

The story of Denmark Tanny is somewhat based on that of Denmark Vesey, an African American leader in Charleston, South Carolina.

Having worked as a carpenter, he eventually bought his freedom before being accused and convicted in June 1822 as the organizer of a failed enslaved insurrection.

Vesey was captured as the leader of “the rising,” a potentially major slave revolt that was scheduled to take place in the city on July 14, he was then executed on July 2 1882.

Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Here’s some more in-depth information…

When Vesey tried to buy his wife and children’s freedom, their master refused, leaving him frustrated and angry at white Americans’ inhumanity.

Vesey then began planning a slave rebellion whereby he planned to kill the city’s white masters and burn down the buildings before escaping to Haiti by boat.

However, a frightened slave then revealed the plot to his master which resulted in Vesey being captured and hung along with his 34 co-conspirators.

Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Tanny’s relation to Pope explained

Warning, season two spoilers ahead!

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In the second series of Outer Banks, Pope is contacted by Carla Limbrey, a descendant of the Royal Merchant’s captain and former associate of Ward Cameron, who is keen to find Tanney’s key for another reason.

Pope then learns of his ancestry through Limbrey when he is told of Denmark Tanny’s historical past leading him to be hung in 1844.

Pope’s connection with Tanny is later confirmed with his grandmother.

Memaw (played by Carol Sutton) was visited by Pope in her care home, as he wanted to know more about the mysterious key in his family.

Pope found the hidden key that was stashed in Meemaw’s ceiling and proceeded to question her about its origins.

Although Meemaw was hesitant to talk about the key with her grandson, she eventually revealed that it belonged to Denmark Tanny, an ancestor of the family.

What are you waiting for?

Catch up with Outer Banks’ second series on Netflix!

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