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Alexander, (Conel) Hugh O'Donel (1909–1974), chess player and cryptanalyst, was born in Cork on 19 April 1909, the eldest of four children of Conel William Long Alexander (1879–1920), professor of engineering at University College, Cork, and his wife, Hilda Barbara Bennett (1881–1964), of ...

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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 ...

Article

Richard Garnett

revised by Troy O. Bickham

André, John (1750–1780), army officer and spy, was born in London on 2 May 1750, the eldest son of Anthony André (1717–1769), a Genevese merchant settled in the city, and Marie Louise Girardot (1721?–1813). He had at least one brother and sister. He was educated at home and possibly at ...

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John André (1750–1780) by John Keyse Sherwin, 1781 (after self-portrait, 1780) © National Portrait Gallery, London

Article

Armorer, Sir Nicholas (c. 1620–1686), royalist army officer, conspirator, and courtier, was born at Belford, Northumberland, a younger son of Thomas Armorer (d. 1642), of Belford, and his wife, Margaret, daughter of Robert Clavering of Callaly in the same county. Like his brother ...

Article

Bacon, Anthony (1558–1601), spy, was the fourth of five sons of Sir Nicholas Bacon (1510–1579), administrator, of Gorhambury, Hertfordshire, and the first with his second wife, Anne, née Cooke (c.1528–1610) [see Bacon], daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke of Gidea Hall, Essex...

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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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Bampfield, Joseph (1622–1685), army officer and spy, was probably born in Devon, one of a family long established in the west country, but his parentage and early life are obscure. There is no validity for the earl of Clarendon's later statement that he was an Irishman, although he may have been educated at ...

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Best, Sigismund Payne (1885–1978), intelligence officer, was born on 14 April 1885 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, the son of Dr George Payne Best (d. 1908), then senior physician at Birmingham General Hospital, and his wife, Catherine Sophia Allinson (d. 1908). His maternal grandmother was said to have been the daughter of an Indian maharaja. He was privately educated in ...

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Bevan, John Henry (1894–1978), intelligence officer and stockbroker, was born on 5 April 1894, at 4 Lower Berkeley Street, London, the younger son of David Augustus Bevan (1856–1937), stockbroker, and his wife, the Hon. Dame Maude Elizabeth Bevan (1856–1944). Educated at Eton College...

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Bizzarri [Bizari], Pietro (b. 1525, d. in or after 1586), historian and spy, was born probably in Sassoferrato Castello (Marche), Italy, the son of Antonio Bizzarri, a soldier who died in 1528. He must also have lived in Perugia, hence his common description as ...

Article

T. F. Henderson

revised by Philip Carter

Blencowe, William (1683–1712), cryptographer, was born on 6 January 1683, the third son of Sir John Blencowe (1642–1726), a judge and baron of the exchequer, and his wife, Anne, the eldest daughter of the mathematician and cryptographer John Wallis. He matriculated at Lincoln College, Oxford...

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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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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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Boxshall, Edwin George (1897–1984), Balkan specialist and intelligence officer, was born on 4 February 1897 in Bucharest, the only son and younger child of William George Boxshall (d. 1918), a butcher's son who ran a small ironworks in Romania, and his wife, ...

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Bruce, Robert (d. 1602), political agent and spy, was 'the son of a poor gentleman and a merchant's daughter' (CSP Scot., 1597–1603, 609), and a brother of the laird of Bynnie. He acted for some time as secretary to James Beaton...

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

Article

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. ...