577. "Document endorsed Papers respecting Thomas Morgan.
Charges against him which show him to have been a vile
spy, who, after gaining the goodwill of the poor queen of
Scotland, betrayed her to the English Queen."
Summary of the charges against Thomas Morgan, both on his
own spontaneous confession and on the evidence of various
ecclesiastical and lay witnesses. Done in Brussels, 12th February
1. He confesses that he is of English nationality, born in
Wales of honourable and Catholic parents, and 47 years of age.
From his youth he has lived by his pen, and at 18 years of
age became servant to the bishop of Exeter and was for three
years his notary of the Archdeaconry. He was then taken by
the archbishop of York, whose confidential secretary he remained
until the Archbishop died.
2. He confesses during these two years to have been the
greatest of heretics and Calvinists and persecutors of the Catholic
Church. Although he was a Catholic at heart, he conformed
like the rest of them to the heretic services.
3. Having no estate of his own, his said masters endowed
him with church prebends worth 4,000 crowns. With regard
to this point his confessions vary greatly, for at other times
he puts the value at 10,000l., and sometimes as low as
4. After the death of the Archbishop he took service with
the earl of Shrewsbury, the keeper of the queen of Scots.
He took the opportunity of captivating the benevolence of the
Queen by the information he gave her secretly, and other kindly
5. He says that before entering the Earl's service he
communicated his design to the earls of Pembroke and Northumberland,
and to Sir William Shelley, who he knew were
great friends of the queen of Scots, and they—especially
Pembroke—encouraged him to take service with Shrewsbury,
which would open a road for promotion to him, by means of
the services he might render to the captive Queen in planning
To this clause a marginal note is attached saying that many
witnesses are confident that Morgan entered the service with the
secret connivance of the earl of Leicester, in order to betray the
queen of Scots and her friends. This was proved by all her
adherents having been put to death, many of whom had only
communicated with Morgan.
6. He served the queen of Scots by informing her of the
measures taken at Court against her, and also when her house and
papers were to be searched. He himself used to take charge of
her most important papers on such occasions. He also used to
forward her correspondence both for England and abroad,
through the French ambassadors.
7. After three years the services he was rendering to the
Queen were discovered, and he was arrested and placed in the
Tower of London. They raised a great outcry that he was in
league with foreign Catholic Princes against the State, but in
10 months they let him out on 10,000l. bail, that he would not
leave the country for a year, and would not meddle with the
affairs of the queen of Scots.
To the aforegoing clause the following marginal note is attached.
This release and the case with which he left the country, the greed
and ambition which led him to mix in such great matters, and the
finding of a large number of cyphers in his possession, by means of
which he corresponded with people great and small all over Christendom,
afford strong suspicion that he was a spy. Some English
Catholics in Paris, seeing him in communication with servants of the
English ambassador, and of Walsingham, told him he was a spy, but
he passed it over without taking offence.
8. He confesses that it is the invariable rule in England that
no prisoner for high treason escapes with his life, unless he be
absolved and swears to do some signal service. But he,
Morgan, was not saved in this way, but because he gave a good
account of himself, and enjoyed the favour of Councillor Wilson,
whom he says he won over to the side of the queen of Scots,
although he does not say how.
He says they did let him out of the Tower without passing
sentence in writing, after he had been a prisoner on so grave a
charge, touching the safety of the realm and the Queen. After
that, he says he remained 18 months in the country and spent
700 crowns, the proceeds of property he sold.
9. He then went to France secretly, whither the queen of
Scots sent him warm letters of recommendation to the duke of
Guise and the bishop of Glasgow, asking them to employ him in
her service. He was there occupied on her affairs with a salary
of 30 crowns a month ; and was so entirely in her confidence
that she used no other cypher for her correspondence than that
which he had sent her.
The following marginal note is attached to this clause. Many
witnesses are persuaded that Morgan's sole object in this voyage
was to discover for the queen of England the negotiations of the
Pope, his Catholic Majesty, and other Christian Princes with the
object of liberating the queen of Scots. He began by sowing discord
between her and her advisers, and persuaded her that they, and
Dr. Allen and the Jesuits, aimed at conquering England and Scotland
for the king of Spain under her name, and so succeeded in getting
her to forbid any of them to communicate with her, except through
Morgan and Charles Paget. He also introduced division amongst the
English Catholics ; being amongst those who maintained that matters
might be remedied without the employment of foreign forces, the
chiefs of which party are the bishop of Cassano (Dr. Owen Lewis)
in Rome and the bishop of Dunblane ; and they, with Morgan,
persecute Cardinal Allen and the Jesuits, and others who wish to
reduce England by the forces of his Majesty.
10. He confesses that he was imprisoned by King Henry of
France at the instance, he says, of the queen of England, for
having conspired with others to kill her. He was in the Bastille
for two years on this charge without once being interrogated,
and was very well treated, with an allowance of two crowns a
day for his expenses. He received what visitors he pleased.
From this it may be inferred that this imprisonment also was
feigned, the better to discover to the queen of England the plans
against her and to enable her to undo all her enemies, till the
sacrifice of the queen of Scots.
11. He confesses that when he was arrested he had in his
lodging seven or eight thousand crowns, and many papers, of
which none were lost. He says the money belonged to Lord
Suspicion is increased by the fact that, having brought to France
only 300 crowns, and his friends having sent him 500 since his
departure from England, he confesses to have spent in various ways,
apart from his maintenance, more than 2,500 crowns.
12. He confesses to have been very intimate with a priest
named Gifford, now a prisoner in Paris for having written a
book against the authority of the Pope and the good fame of
his Catholic Majesty and the Spanish nation, with other
heretical conclusions. Gifford in his confessions says he was
assisted in the composition of the book by a priest named
Gratley, a prisoner of the Inquisition in Rome, and by Thomas
Morgan. (fn. 1) Gifford went to England with Morgan's knowledge,
where he presented the book to Secretary Walsingham, who
Morgan knew was paying Gifford.
13. He declares that he has been cognisant of several plots
against England, and all of them have failed. The rest of the
English Catholics think that it is he who has divulged them, as
he has carried on an extensive correspondence through the
French ambassadors there.
14. He says he came hither (i.e., to Flanders) by order of
Don Bernardino de Mendoza, who sent him with other English
pensioners to serve his Majesty here. Notwithstanding this,
he confesses that since he came hither in 1588 he has not once
spoken to his Highness (i.e., the duke of Parma), or any other
Ministers, nor has he given any information.
15. But still he confesses, and it is proved, that he has since
then carried on great correspondence about public affairs of the
highest importance, he says with the knowledge of the King
(Philip) ; and 13 ciphers were found on him for this purpose.
With respect to two of these he either does not know or will
not say what they were for. He was also found to possess
four separate seals.
16. He confesses that two of the ciphers were for the
purpose of corresponding with a brother of his, a priest in
England, and with another gentlemen, named Thomas Berne,
living in London, and another was for writing to a certain
Fernihurst in Scotland. Another was for correspondence with
the steward of the princess of Bearn, and another for that with
the duchess of Feria's secretary in Madrid. Another was for
use with the governor of Montreuil in Picardy, and another
for the bishop of Dunblane, a Carthusian, living in Dauphiné,
who goes backwards and forwards to the Court of the duke of
Savoy. He is a partisan of the bishop of Cassano against
Cardinal Allen and the Jesuits. (fn. 2)
And although this Morgan has correspondence with all parts no
drafts or replies have been found except some from Cardinal
Mondovi, merely thanking him for the information he sends
continually for his Holiness. He confesses to have torn up and
burnt the rest of the letters he has received, and his own notes and
drafts. It may, therefore, be inferred that they referred to great
matters that he was afraid of others seeing.
There have only been found amongst his papers the last two
letters from the bishop of Dunblane, arid a note of his reply,
although he confesses that frequent letters passed between them,
and that their correspondence had continued for several years.
With this sheet there is enclosed a true translation of the contents
of this draft reply, as well as a copy of the original in English, and
of the cipher, all of which have been acknowledged by the
He confesses that as soon as he arrived in these parts, he went
to the house of the postmaster of Antwerp, because he saw that the
letters from England passed through his hands and that the couriers
lived there. Although he might easily have learnt from one of his
numerous countrymen here all he could want to know about
forwarding letters, or have been satisfied with the answer given
him at the postmaster's, namely, that if he wished to write to
England his letters should be forwarded, this was not enough
for him. He must needs worm himself into the confidence of the
couriers, and pump them as to whether they carried despatches
from the duke of Parma to England, and tried to discover who took
them and when.
He confesses that he proposed to an influential Scottish gentleman
to capture the king of Scots and take him to Rome, offering him
the funds for the purpose, and urging him to write to the bishop of
Cassano in Rome, explaining his plans for the purpose. It is evident
that this, too, was one of the devices of the English Council, in order
to divert his Holiness from supporting his Majesty in his undertaking
for the conversion of the Kingdom. He frankly confesses
that he would be sorry to see his country subjugated by foreigners,
and especially Spaniards.
There are many other circumstances which need not be detailed
here, which greatly confirm the strong suspicion that his imprisonments
have been feigned, in order to increase his influence with the
Catholics, and lull into confidence the poor queen of Scots. But no
steps have been taken to submit the prisoner to rigorous examination,
as he alleges that everything he did and said was with the knowledge
and consent of the King (Philip), and it is deemed best that
his Majesty should see this paper first and decide what is to be
done. (fn. 3)
These clauses are truly copied from the official examination and
information against Thomas Morgan, an Englishman, now a prisoner
in the prison of the Provost-General of his Majesty's armies by me,