This post is part of an article on Regency Reflections. You can view the original post in entirety here.
The Regency Spy. He is such a popular figure in fiction that it can be difficult to know where the story ends and the truth begins.
Accounts of actual spies are vague and difficult to find. Not surprising, as they were spies. Undercover work wasn’t exactly respected at the time and was usually done by people acting as double agents: mistresses, traveling poets, scholars, diplomats, etc.
By most accounts, the French were a little better at it than the English, though it’s possible the English were simply a bit better at keeping their activities secret.
In my recent book, A Noble Masquerade, a Napoleonic spy had infiltrated England and our heroic English spy has to stop him. The spies in A Noble Masquerade are considerably more organized than the real Regency spies were, all being connected by a centralized War Office.
There was no organized spy office in England at the time, particularly not a government recognized one. Instead of having a centralized organization, if someone such as the prime minister, foreign minister, or even General Wellington needed information, they built their own slipshod network. Most spy work at the time was actually happening in France, which is where the spy in A Noble Masquerade got his start.