Sir Anthony Babington (24 October 1561 –20 September 1586) was an English gentleman convicted of plotting the assassination of Elizabeth I of England and conspiring with the imprisoned Mary, Queen of Scots. The "Babington Plot" and Mary's involvement in it were the basis of the treason charges against her which led to her execution. He was a member of the Babington family.
Born into a gentry family to Sir Henry Babington and Mary Darcy, granddaughter of Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy de Darcy,at Dethick Manor in Dethick, Derbyshire, England, he was their third child. His father died in 1571 when Anthony was nine years old, and his mother remarried to Henry Foljambe. Anthony was under the guardianship of his mother, her second husband, Henry Foljambe, and Philip Draycot of Paynsley Hall, Cresswell, Staffordshire, his future father-in-law. While publicly Protestant, the family remained Catholic.
Babington was employed as a page boy in the Earl of Shrewsbury's household. The Earl was at this time the gaoler of Mary, Queen of Scots and it is likely that it was during this time that Babington became a supporter of Mary's cause to ascend the throne of England. In 1579 he was married to Margery Draycot.
In about 1580, while travelling on the continent, he had met the arch-conspirator Thomas Morgan, and he was persuaded to courier letters to Mary while she was still being held by his former master, the Earl of Shrewsbury. He also assisted the movement of priests in the Catholic Midlands. But by 1586, with Mary removed to the harsher regime of Tutbury and the consequent closing down of communications with her, Babington's role as a courier came to an end. Twice in early 1586 he received letters from France, destined for Mary, but in each case he declined to 'deal further in those affairs'. Around this time he was reportedly considering leaving England permanently and was trying to secure a passport along with his Welsh friend, Thomas Salisbury. He obtained an introduction to Robert Poley, a man with good political contacts, with a view to securing a 'licence' to go to France. Poley, Unknown to Babington, was an agent for Francis Walsingham, the Secretary of State, and was under orders to infiltrate known Catholic circles. He probably intentionally failed to obtain a passport for Babington, and instead persuaded him that he, Poley, was a Catholic sympathiser and could be trusted. It was Babington's misplaced trust of, and possibly even love for, Poley that was a large contributory factor in his eventual downfall.
During Elizabeth's reign, her court was particularly concerned about the prospect of Mary Stuart coming to the throne. It was a time of great religious tension. The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre served to increase the realisation of the outcome a return to Roman Catholicism might present. The Queen's security forces, led by Sir Francis Walsingham with its ruthless and cunning spies like Poley were more than effective at their job. During one of Walsingham's investigations, a suspected subversive named Gilbert Gifford was arrested and interrogated. To avoid punishment, Gifford agreed to act as a double agent. He made contact with the French Embassy in London and arranged the smuggling of letters from Mary Stuart to her followers. This was to be achieved through the use of beer barrels. Gifford ensured that Walsingham was given access to these communications which revealed Mary's requests to the French and Spanish that they intervene on her behalf.
On 6 July 1586 Babington wrote to Mary Stuart, telling her that he and a group of friends were planning to assassinate Elizabeth, whom she (the Queen of Scots) would succeed. Babington's (and Mary Stuart's) defenders claim that in the sixteenth century it was held that the killing of "tyrants" was morally acceptable.Babington decided to write to Mary to seek her authorisation, which he believed she could provide as the legitimate claimant to the Throne. (It was believed by Catholics that Elizabeth's claim to the throne was void due to her being the daughter of Anne Boleyn whose marriage to Henry VIII they considered illegal in that they did not accept the legality in any sense of Henry VIII's divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.)
Mary replied to Babington, in which she stressed the necessity of foreign aid if the rescue attempt was to succeed.However, she left the matter of the assassination to Babington's conscience.
In the meantime, Babington's growing involvement with the plot was being reported to Walsingham, by Poley, who was by this time much in Babington's confidence, despite having been caught by him copying some of Mary's letter.When Walsingham and his officials had gathered sufficient evidence Babington and his crew were rounded up. Babington was in the Tower of London by 3 September when Burghley ordered his goods and papers at Dethick to be seized. The house was almost empty except for his two sisters, Madeleine and Ellen, and his two-year-old daughter. His wife had fled. Babington (aged 24) and his thirteen co-conspirators were convicted of high treason and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.
His offer to Elizabeth of £1,000 for his pardon was rejected, and the execution of the first seven (including Babington, John Ballard, and Chidiock Tichborne) took place on the 20th.The condemned men, kept in the Tower of London, were marched from their cells, strapped to sledges and pulled by horses through the streets of London. On reaching a specially erected scaffold in St. Giles’ Field, near Holborn, they were hanged, drawn and quartered. After this, the executioner distributed the parts of their bodies to prominent locations around the city to warn all of the consequences of disloyalty to the monarch.
Babington's final letter to his friend and betrayer, Poley ("farewell sweet Robyn...") is one of the more strikingly poignant documents in the case.
A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley is set at Thackers, the fictional name for the Babington Manor House, actually at Dethick, in Derbyshire. The narrator, Penelope Taberner, witnesses young Anthony Babington's growing involvement with Mary, Queen of Scots, as Penelope finds herself passing between her world of the 1940s and the year 1582.
On 2 December 2008, BBC Radio 4 broadcast an Afternoon Play by Michael Butt entitled The Babington Plot directed by Sasha Yevtushenko with Stephen Greif as "The Presenter", done in documentary-style and told from the perspective of some of the conspirators – some genuine, some government spies that had infiltrated the group - and several people who were in various ways involved in the events. Babington is portrayed as homosexual and having a relationship with Thomas Salisbury (played by Samuel Barnett) and then Robert Poley (played by Burn Gorman).
|Ancestors of Anthony Babington|
Sir Francis Walsingham was principal secretary to Queen Elizabeth I of England from 20 December 1573 until his death and is popularly remembered as her "spymaster".
The Babington Plot was a plan in 1586 to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I, a Protestant, and put Mary, Queen of Scots, her Roman Catholic cousin, on the English throne. It led to the Queen of Scots' execution, a result of a letter sent by Mary in which she consented to the assassination of Elizabeth.
The Ridolfi plot was a plot in 1571 to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I of England and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots. The plot was hatched and planned by Roberto Ridolfi, an international banker who was able to travel between Brussels, Rome and Madrid to gather support without attracting too much suspicion.
Mary, Queen of Scots is a 1971 biographical film based on the life of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, written by John Hale and directed by Charles Jarrott. Leading an all-star cast are Vanessa Redgrave as the title character and Glenda Jackson as Elizabeth I. Jackson had previously played the part of Elizabeth in the BBC TV drama Elizabeth R, screened in February and March 1971, the first episode of which was also written by Hale.
Chidiock Tichborne, erroneously referred to as Charles, was an English conspirator and poet.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age is a 2007 biographical drama film, directed by Shekhar Kapur and produced by Universal Pictures and Working Title Films. It stars Cate Blanchett in the title role and is a fairly fictionalised portrayal of events during the latter part of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England, following up on Kapur's 1998 film Elizabeth, also starring Blanchett. The film co-stars Geoffrey Rush, Clive Owen, Jordi Mollà, Abbie Cornish, and Samantha Morton. The screenplay was written by William Nicholson and Michael Hirst, and the music score was composed by A. R. Rahman and Craig Armstrong. Guy Hendrix Dyas was the film's production designer and co-visual effects supervisor, and the costumes were created by Alexandra Byrne. The film was shot at Shepperton Studios and various locations around the United Kingdom.
Sir William Wade was an English statesman and diplomat, and Lieutenant of the Tower of London.
A Dead Man in Deptford is a 1993 novel by Anthony Burgess, the last to be published during his lifetime. It depicts the life and character of Christopher Marlowe, a renowned playwright of the Elizabethan era.
John Ballard was an English priest executed for being involved in an attempt to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I of England in the Babington Plot.
Sir Thomas Salisbury was one of the conspirators executed for his involvement in the Babington Plot.
The 1583 Throckmorton Plot was one of a series of attempts by English Roman Catholics to depose Elizabeth I of England and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots, then held under house arrest in England.
Gilbert Gifford was a double agent who worked for Sir Francis Walsingham and played a role in the uncovering of the Babington Plot. Shortly before his death in Paris, he was ordained as a Catholic priest in Rheims. His true allegiances, whether to Queen Elizabeth I or to Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Catholic cause – are unclear.
Thomas Phelippes (1556–1625), also known as Thomas Phillips was a linguist, who was employed as a forger and intelligence gatherer. He served mainly under Sir Francis Walsingham, in the time of Elizabeth I, and most notably deciphered the coded letters of Babington Plot conspirators.
Thomas Morgan of Llantarnam (1546–1606), of the Welsh Morgan of Monmouthshire, was a confidant and spy for Mary, Queen of Scots, and was involved in the Babington plot to kill Queen Elizabeth I of England. In his youth, Thomas, a staunch Catholic, worked as Secretary of the Archbishop of York until 1568, and then for Lord Shrewsbury who had Mary under his care at this time. Morgan's Catholic leanings soon brought him into the confidence of the Scottish queen and Mary enlisted Morgan as her secretary and go-between for the period extending between 1569 -1572 which coincided with a series of important conspiracies against Elizabeth. Morgan was imprisoned for 3 years in the Tower of London before exiling himself to France.
Christopher Hodgson was a Catholic priest who played a minor role in the Babington Plot. The plot was a failure and eighteen of the main conspirators were hung, drawn, and quartered in London in 1586. Hodgson was a committed Roman Catholic, in defiance of the Elizabethan authorities. But he clashed with the Jesuits and like several other English Catholics he opposed a Spanish invasion. He was a close friend of Gilbert Gifford and an acquaintance of Charles Neville, 6th Earl of Westmorland in exile.
Henry Donn was one of the conspirators executed for his involvement in the Babington Plot, a plot in 1586 to assassinate Queen Elizabeth, a Protestant, and put Mary, Queen of Scots, a Catholic, on the English throne.
Edward Habington, Abington, or Abingdon (1553?–1586), was one of the conspirators in the plot formed by Anthony Babington.
"The Doubt of Future Foes" is a poem written by Elizabeth I of England sometime between 1568 and 1571. It concerns her relationship with her cousin and enemy, Mary, Queen of Scots.
Robert Poley, or Pooley was an English double agent, government messenger and agent provocateur employed by members of the Privy Council during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I; he was described as "the very genius of the Elizabethan underworld". Poley is particularly noted for his central role in uncovering the so-called Babington plot to assassinate the Queen in 1586, and for being a witness of, and even a possible party to, the reported killing in self-defence by Ingram Frizer of the famous poet/dramatist Christopher Marlowe in May 1593.
Events from the year 1586 in the Kingdom of Scotland.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Babington, Anthony .|