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

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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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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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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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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 ...

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Jackson, William [pseud. Scrutineer] (1737?–1795), journalist and spy, was born in Dublin, the son of an officer in the prerogative court. After studying at Oxford he was ordained and he moved to London, where he acted as a curate at St Mary-le-Strand...

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Marsh, Walter (bap. 1560, d. 1595), spy and protestant martyr, was baptized on 17 October 1560 at St Stephen, Coleman Street, London, the third or fourth of the four children of John Marsh (b. before 1516, d. 1579), MP, mercer, and governor of the ...

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Melville, William (1850–1918), police officer and intelligence officer, was born in Sneem, co. Kerry, Ireland, on 25 April 1850, the eldest of three sons of James Melville, tenant farmer, and his wife, Catherine, née O'Connor. After attending the local Christian Brothers' school until the age of fifteen he worked for his father, who was then a baker and publican in ...

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Titus Oates (1649–1705) by Robert White, 1679 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Oates, Titus (1649–1705), informer, was born at Oakham, Rutland, a younger son of Samuel Oates (bap. 1614, d. 1683), Baptist preacher, and his wife, Lucy (d. in or after 1697), a midwife from Hastings. His father, son of a Church of England...

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Ogilvy, John [known as Pourie Ogilvy] (fl. 1587–1601), adventurer, was the son of Gilbert Ogilvy of Pourie (d. 1601). His sister, Anne Ogilvy, married on 30 November 1587 Sir Thomas Erskine, a gentleman of the bedchamber of James VI and later ...

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Parry, William (d. 1585), spy and conspirator, was the son of Harry ap David or Bethels (d. c.1566), guard in the royal household, of Northop, Flintshire, and his wife, Margaret. According to Parry, his mother was a Conway of Bodrythan, according to his enemies '...

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Petrie, Sir David (1879–1961), police officer in India and head of the security service, was born on 9 September 1879 at Inveravon, Banffshire, the second surviving son of Thomas Petrie, master millwright, and his wife, Jane Allan. After taking an MA degree at ...