Thomas Morgan of Llantarnam (or Bassaleg, a branch of the Morgan of Tredegar) (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.
In 1584 Morgan was dispatched to Paris with letters from Mary to her supporters at the French court. He met up with Dr. William Parry and the pair hatched a plan to kill the queen. Parry was arrested in England and charged with High Treason but he pleaded that he was a secret agent trying to discover the Catholic's treasons.One of the charges brought against Mary in 1586 involved her involvement with Morgan, charge no. 8 read 'Her Servant Morgan practising with Parry for the killing of her Majesty and the favouring and maintaining of him, since the said Queen did know that he was the principal persuader of Parry to attempt that most wicked act'. Morgan strenuously denied his involvement in his secret letters to Mary who chose to believe him. Thomas Morgan had a secret correspondence with Mary who was imprisoned in England, and he was plotting the assassination of Queen Elizabeth. In 1584 he may have been involved in the production of Leicester's Commonwealth , a scurrilous tract attacking Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, Elizabeth's powerful favourite. The book was widely circulated in England. It contained a detailed argument that Mary should succeed Elizabeth to the throne. Francis Walsingham, the chief of Elizabeth's intelligence service, believed him to be the author.
Morgan and Charles Paget recruited Anthony Babington, a young English nobleman ready to give his life for Mary, to murder Queen Elizabeth I in the famous Babington plot. Lewes Lewkenor described Morgan as 'a man not inferior to any of them all in drifts of policy'.
In 1585 Gilbert Gifford arrived in Paris for a meeting with Morgan and Charles Paget who sent him to England. Francis Walsingham's agents arrested him at the port of Rye, East Sussex and he was taken to London for questioning. It appears that Walsingham's persuasive techniques were enough to convince Gifford to spy for him and intercept the letters from Mary, Queen of Scots which ultimately brought about her downfall and subsequent execution. Gifford even told how Walsingham's chief decipherer, Phelippes 'could take off Morgan to the life'.However, there was a mole spying for Elizabeth in the embassy, Gilbert Gifford, who was copying all the letters exchanged between Thomas and Mary and passing them to Walsingham. Elizabeth's top codebreaker, Thomas Phelippes, was able to decipher the code used by Thomas Morgan. The plot was discovered, Babington was arrested, and he and his co-conspirators were hung, drawn and quartered. The Jesuits accused Morgan of being the 'setter on' of Gilbert Gifford and had him 'clapt close prisoner in a miserable dungeon called the Truerenborche' where he remained until the death of Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma in December 1593. Thomas Morgan, escaping extradition and a dreadful fate, was thrown into the Bastille and then in another prison in Flanders before finally being set free in 1593.
Morgan was accused of being an intelligencer for Walsingham by his fellow conspirators, Charles Paget, Thomas Throgmorton and Ralph Liggons. He was incarcerated in the Bastille, but his friends sought aid from the Pope who commanded his release. Morgan retired to live with the Bishop of Cusano Milanino in Amiens until his death, the date of which is uncertain. In January 1605, he was condemned to death for conspiracy, but the sentence was not carried out.
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.
Elizabeth R is a BBC television drama serial of six 85-minute plays starring Glenda Jackson as Elizabeth I of England. It was first broadcast on BBC2 from February to March 1971, through the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Australia and broadcast in America on PBS's Masterpiece Theatre.
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.
Sir Anthony Babington 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.
Sir Francis Throckmorton was a conspirator against Queen Elizabeth I of England in the Throckmorton Plot.
John Ballard was an English priest executed for being involved in an attempt to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I of England in the Babington Plot.
Elizabeth I is a two-part 2005 British-American historical drama television miniseries directed by Tom Hooper, written by Nigel Williams, and starring Helen Mirren as Elizabeth I of England. The miniseries covers approximately the last 24 years of her nearly 45-year reign. Part 1 focuses on the final years of her relationship with the Earl of Leicester, played by Jeremy Irons. Part 2 focuses on her subsequent relationship with the Earl of Essex, played by Hugh Dancy.
William Parry was a Welsh courtier and spy. He planned to assassinate Elizabeth I of England, and was executed.
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.
Charles Paget was a Roman Catholic conspirator, involved in the Babington plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I of England.
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.
Events from the 1580s in England.
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.
Thomas Paget, 3rd Baron Paget was an English peer, the second son of William Paget, 1st Baron Paget. He succeeded to the barony in 1568 at the death of his elder brother, Henry Paget, 2nd Baron Paget.
"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.
Sir Charles Arundell, was an English gentleman, lord of the manor of South Petherton, Somerset, notable as an early Roman Catholic recusant and later as a leader of the English exiles in France. He has been suggested as the author of Leicester's Commonwealth, an anonymous work which attacked Queen Elizabeth's favourite, the Earl of Leicester.
A Column of Fire is a 2017 novel by British author Ken Follett, first published on 12 September 2017. It is the third book in the Kingsbridge Series, and serves as a sequel to 1989's The Pillars of the Earth and 2007's World Without End.