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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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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 ...

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. ...

Article

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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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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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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Porter, George [known as Captain Porter] (c. 1659–1728), Jacobite conspirator and informer, was probably born in London, the only son of the dramatist Thomas Porter (1636–1680) by his second, legal, marriage to his first wife Anne Blount (c.1637–1659). His paternal grandfather was the courtier ...

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Théveneau de Morande, Charles-Claude (1741–1805), writer and spy, was born on 9 November 1741 in Arnay-le-Duc in Burgundy, probably at 22 rue St Honoré, the eldest child of Louis Théveneau (bap. 1715, d. 1772), a notary, and his wife, Philiberte Belin (...

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Udall [Uvedale], William [pseud. William Stranguage] (fl. c. 1595–1636), historian and informer, was born into the influential Udall (or Uvedale) family, active in and around the echelons of power. According to his own recollections, he had a very good education and a Catholic upbringing in ...

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(William) John Christopher Vassall (1924–1996) by F. Shepherd, 1975 © News International Newspapers Ltd

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Vassall [later Phillips], (William) John Christopher (1924–1996), Admiralty official and spy, was born on 20 September 1924 at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, where his father, William Vassall, was a long-serving chaplain and his mother, Mabel Andrea Sellicks, was a nurse. Educated at a boarding-school at ...