An Account of the Arrest and Family of the spy Captain Henry Manning
from Covent Garden, May 23, 1696
In my last I gave some account of the late King Charles the second’s court when it sat in exile. So now I shall give you the intelligence you request regarding of the spy Captain Henry Manning. It was a cold and dark night in ’55 when the agents of the Scotch King, as they called the king then, took Capt. Manning from his quarters in Cologne. They discovered him finishing his letters for the evening and supping on warm wine. Although, the blades had been watching him for near a week. Their master, the Scotch King’s secretary of state, Sir Edward Nicholas, had been waiting for the warrant from the city magistrates before striking at the pray. Yet Capt. Manning was no stranger to those that took him in nor was he unfamiliar to the King himself. For Capt. Manning had been drinking, dinning and corresponding with the best of them since he joined the court in ’54.
Before going into the details of Capt. Manning arrest, first I shall give you some detail, as I know of it, of the man himself. He was born a catholic gentlemen sometime before 1628, in the southern county of Sussex. His father was the noble Colonel Richard Manning, who as a loyal subject to the Scotch King’s father, had raised a regiment of horse in fight against the Parliament. So it was to be at the great and bloody battle of Cheriton Wood in March ’44, that Capt. Manning lost both his father and elder brother, whilst he also received many injuries. After-which little is heard of him, although I heard that his sister was married to Dr Jay and he himself was also wedded.
It was is in the early autumn of 1654 that Capt. Manning entered into the pay of Oliver’s own secretary, Mr Thurloe. For he was in great debt due to arrears on his late father’s estate and having fallen from the employment of the Earl of Pembroke, he sort work with the King in Paris but with little success. It was on his return from Paris that he was arrested and thrown into prison, only to be saved by agents of the Protector. They offered him freedom, without debts and money if he once more sort out the Scotch King. But in return they desired intelligence and information on the travels of the king and his agents. With the choice between the debtors prison and freedom, Capt. Manning did travel to Cologne via the Hague to seek out the Kings service.
It is not hard to see how this fine catholic gentlemen; one that had fought as a cavalier; who had lost both his brother and father in the first King Charles’s service; and with ready cash, would not be welcomed into the Scotch King’s court. So with a false letter of introduction from the Earl of Pembroke, he fell in with the close friends of the king, Dr Earle, the Earl of Norwich and divers others. Only now his old comrades in arms welcome him to the dinner table. How easy it was for Capt. Manning to become a useful fellow for the king of Scotland. At first as courier, then translator and even letter writer. He made himself a useful servant, even conversing with Col. Massie, the Queen of Bohemia and the the secretary himself.
Thus with legal warrant in hand, the door burst open on Capt. Manning that late Sunday evening. Yet, it was not foes he saw but four shallow friends and acquaintances. Men he had worked and socialised with for over a year. Perhaps this was why his betrayal felt so bad to those in the king’s court, yet Mr Thurloe in London did receive word of Manning’s arrest from one other close in their company. For there is this letter writ by another agent that was found in Mr Thurloe’s paper after the restoration of the late King Charles the second
“Cologne, Dec. 7th ’55
The king of Scotland did cause to be apprehended on the 5th of this month, in the night, the person and papers of a certain person called Manning. Who hath formerly served as captain against the parliament of England and now followed the court of his majesty. Who keeps him in custody by four of his men. He is charged to have kept secret correspondence with the lord protector, which, some say, he hath already confessed.”
So my lord, as you can see Capt. Manning was not alone and not just those in the court showed fear but those that cast the net. In my next, I shall make some attempt at describing the intelligence Capt. Manning provided and his methods of sending this to his master..
Yours in the cause of liberty and property.