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Sir Robert Anderson (1841–1918) by James Russell & Sons © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Anderson, Sir Robert (1841–1918), spymaster, detective chief, and author, was born on 29 May 1841 in Mountjoy Square, Dublin, the son of Matthew Anderson (1804–1888), crown solicitor, Dublin, and his wife, Mary. He himself described his more distant forebears as 'among the Scotch colonists who made ...

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Baillie [Bailly], Charles (c. 1541–1625), conspirator and informer, was probably born in the Low Countries of Scottish descent. He was a good linguist, and from about 1564 found employment in the household of Mary, queen of Scots. By 1571 he was in the service of ...

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William Bedloe (1650–1680) by Robert White, pubd 1681 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bedloe, William (1650–1680), informer and adventurer, was the second son of Isaac Bedloe (d. 1656). William Bedloe was born in Chepstow on 20 May 1650 and spent his early life both there and in Bristol. Much of his early life was deliberately clouded in obscurity. His own published account of his parentage and ancestry remains dubious. He claimed that his father had been a gentleman soldier who had served the king in the civil wars and whose own father was ...

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Blood, Thomas (1617/18–1680), adventurer and spy, was born at Sarney, co. Meath. His early life is obscure, but it was later claimed that his father (who was possibly Neptune Blood) was a blacksmith and ironworker, 'serious, honest and of no inferior credit' (...

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Thomas Blood (1617/1818–1680) by unknown artist The Pepys Library, Magdalene College, Cambridge

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Michael Kitson

revised by Miranda Carter

Blunt, Anthony Frederick (1907–1983), art historian and spy, was born at Holy Trinity vicarage, Bournemouth, Hampshire, on 26 September 1907, the third and youngest son (there were no daughters) of the Revd (Arthur) Stanley Vaughan Blunt (1870–1929) and his wife, Hilda Violet (1880–1969)...

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Anthony Frederick Blunt (1907–1983) by Snowdon, 1963 Snowdon / Camera Press, London

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Bolron, Robert (fl. 1665–1682), informer and perjurer, was born in Newcastle upon Tyne. Apprenticed to a jeweller in London, he left after a year to become a foot soldier at Tynemouth Castle. During the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665–7) he served on a frigate. In 1674 ...

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Guy Francis de Moncy Burgess (1911–1963) by Ramsey & Muspratt, 1930s © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Burgess, Guy Francis de Moncy (1911–1963), spy, was born on 16 April 1911 at 2 Albemarle Villas, Devonport, the elder son of Commander Malcolm Kingsford de Moncy Burgess RN and his wife, Evelyn Mary, daughter of William Gillman, gentleman. Burgess's father died in 1924 and his mother subsequently married ...

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James Carey (1837–1883) by unknown engraver, pubd 1883 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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G. C. Boase

revised by R. V. Comerford

Carey, James (1837–1883), Fenian and informer, was the son of Francis Carey, a bricklayer, who migrated from Celbridge, co. Kildare, to Dublin. There his wife (whose name is not known) kept a lodging-house in James Street, where James was born to them. He had at least one brother. ...

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Chester, Charles (c. 1554–1604), informer and wit, probably born in Bristol, was one of ten children of Dominic Chester (d. 1575), merchant and MP, and his wife, Mary (d. 1572), the daughter of Roger Barlow, merchant and explorer, and his wife, ...

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Clark, Sir Robert Anthony [Bob] (1924–2013), special operations officer, solicitor, and businessman, was born at 29 Chandos Road, East Finchley, London, on 6 January 1924, the younger son of John Anthony (Jack) Clark, mechanical engineer, and his wife, Gladys Evelyn Mary, née Dyer (1891–1970)...

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Dangerfield, Thomas (1654–1685), informer, was born in the parish of Holy Cross, Waltham, Essex, on 7 July 1654, the son of Thomas Dangerfield (d. 1680) and his wife, Apollina. His father was apparently an honest gentleman of Cromwellian sympathies but, according to a hostile account of his early years, ...

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Dugdale, Stephen (d. 1683), informer, may have come from a minor gentry family of Staffordshire, but his parentage is unknown. He later claimed that as a young man he was converted to Roman Catholicism by a priest named Knight, and was in his care until ...

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C. L. Kingsford

revised by M. J. Mercer

Hensey, Florence (fl. 1748–1760), physician and spy, was born in co. Kildare, the son of Florence Hensey (d. 1757) of Ballycumeen, and his wife, Mary (d. 1748). Brought up as a Catholic, he moved to England when very young; he then apparently was educated at the ...

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Ivie, Edward (d. 1698), informer and coiner, was the youngest son of Thomas Ivie of Wincanton, Somerset, where his father and elder brother served as parish officers. His uncle was the puritan activist and civic reformer John Ivie of Salisbury, who made his view of ...