Page 3, 26th May 1961

26th May 1961
Page 3
Page 3, 26th May 1961 — MAN BEHIND THE SPIES

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Organisations: army
Locations: Lincoln, Moscow


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By R. G. D. LAFFAN CROMWELL'S MASTER SPY: A STUDY OF JOHN THLTRLOE, by D. I.. Hobman (Chapman and Hall, 1961, 21s.).

THURLOE was Cromwell's bad:room boy and cuts no figure in history except to historians. He controlled such a network of secret agents, and of spies to watch the spies, all over this country and the Continent that Cromwell knew the acts and intentions of the Emperor, the Kings, the Dutch Republic, the Muscovite, and, above all, Charles Stuart and his ubiquitous agents almost as soon as they did.

Mr, Hobman records only one man as double-crossing Thurloe; namely his secretary. Morland, who overheard the plan to lure Charles and his brothers to England with promises of armed support and to shoot them as they landed. Morland sent a warning to Charles, and the murders did not take place. Morland was knighted in May, 1660, for his services to the King.


THURLOE was not a fanatical Republican or Puritan. He Was a civil servant, correct, methodical, hard-working, who would no doubt have served any Government which promoted England's interests.

A man invaluable in stormy times. He was Secretary of State, in charge of the postal, censorship. and passport offices, and he had to organize the supply of munitions and food for the armed forces. All this activity brought him presents from suitors, which he was not above accepting. He thus made a considerable fortune.

I notice that Mr. Hobman gives his reasons for accepting Pepys's story that Mr. Secretary Morrice complained in parliament in 1668 that he was only allowed £700 a year for his secret servite. whereas Cromwell had allowed £70,000 a year and had thus been better informed than any Head of State. But. if Thurloe ever put his hand into the public purse, no charge seems to have been brought against him before or after 1660.


yET this book is less a study of Thurloe than a collection of jottings, year by year, taken from the Tburloc Papers. The reader skips from Jamaica to Moscow through a maze of disjointed items, many of them most interesting. British piracy and other illegalities; the kidnapping of Irish girls for transportation to the army in Janulica: the constant plots of the wilder Protestant. sects to 1 murder Cromwell and erect a government of the saints.

How Whig and aristocratic was the Protector's rule is shown by the leave given by a MajorGeneral for a race meeting at Lincoln because Cromwell did not wish "to deprive gentlemen of their sport" and had forbidden such meetings only to prevent seditious gatherings.

Two slips need correction. "Charles I" (p. 182) should be Charles 11. There is reference to "the Emperor Ferdinand IV" (p. 26). Ferdinand, who would have been IV, died three years before Ferdinand 111.

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