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Beyond Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Other Moles, Double Agents and Traitors
Posted November 29, 2011 to photo album "Beyond Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Other Moles, Double Agents and Traitors"
In TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDER, SPY, no one is what they appear, especially with a suspected Soviet mole at the very center of the Circus. But turncoats, traitors, moles, double agents, and sleeper cells are nothing new in the world of espionage.
Baronet Double Agents Samuel Morland & Richard Willis
Top to Bottom: Sir. Samuel Morland, by Peter Lely; Sir Richard Willis, by William Dobson.
Two of the first double agents to become figures of cultural fascination were Baronets Samuel Morland and Richard Willis, opposing mathematicians caught up in a plot to execute King Charles II. After the English Civil War, which ended with the execution of Charles I, the Commonwealth of England was ruled by the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, and then his son, Richard Cromwell. While the fighting had stopped, intrigues and conspiracies continued between agents for the Commonwealth and pro-royalist forces. Baronet Samuel Morland, a mathematician and scientist, who served as a spy and cryptographer for the Commonwealth, secretly switched allegiances when he learned of a plot by his boss, Secretary of State John Thurloe, to assassinate Charles II, the exiled son of Charles I. Thurloe and Baronet Richard Willis were conspiring to lure Charles II and his brothers to come to Sussex, England – to supposedly secretly meet with royalist followers – where they would then be killed. After hearing this plot while feigning sleep in Thurloe’s Lincoln’s Inn office, Morland informed Charles II and began working for the restoration of the monarchy. Ironically, the mastermind of the assassination plot, Richard Willis, was another baronet, mathematician, and cryptographer. Willis had been a member of the Sealed Knot, a cabal of royalists who through the period of the Commonwealth worked for the restoration of the monarchy. Willis, who was twice imprisoned, eventually switched sides, and began to plot against Charles II. In 1660, the monarchy was restored, Charles II was crowned king, and Morland, Thurlow and Willis went on to die of natural causes.