An account of the methods of intelligence and pseudonym’s used by Capt. Manning as described in his Confession
from Covent Garden, May 27, 1696
In my last, I gave some account of the arrest and character of Captain Manning. I will now give you some more details of his activities and methods. It was on December 7th, that Sir Edwards Nicholas and his blades start to gather information from poor Capt. Manning, who had now confessed to supplying intelligence to London. This began after he arrived in Cologne and had falling in with the Scotch Kings party. So, it was in October ’54 that Capt. Manning started to correspond with Mr Thurloe’s office.
At first these letters did go via another Agent in Antwerp, who I shall refrain for the moment from naming. The methods of sending information was simple. Even before Capt. Manning used cyphers, his letter would be addressed to a to named man at a shop, inn or warehouse. Here the letter would be put in a draw or box for collection by another unknown agent. Then the letter would be put in a package of other intelligence and set to the secretary of state. Often this intelligencer would read these correspondence and summarise the information. It is clear the Manning’s first letters were treated so, but as his activities increased, he received a direct way of sending his letters securely to Mr Thurloe’s office.
To cover his tracks, I believe, Capt. Manning used many pseudonym’s, including John Marsh, Henry Jackson, Henry Manwaring, Andrew Burton, Zachary Johnson and Issac Gibbs. He was also aware that post would be opened and copied, therefore he had friends and other members of the Kings household to write some of the letters. In this way, other agents would not become familiar with his hand and spelling.
In the same way, Thurloe would send instructions and letters of credit to different locations for collecting himself or by one of his fellows. This was the leak link in the chain, for Manning would need to trust that the receiving address was secure and that the correspondence was not identified. He would need to arrange to pick up letter and the credit, all without arousing suspicion or being noticed by officials. It is clear, regardless of what even Hyde did write, that it was the Spanish authorities that identified Capt. Manning sometime in ’55. Yet, held that information back until the Oliver’s alliance with the French forced the Scotch King into their employ. For it was well know it those cycles that the Scotch Kings court was insecure and did leak intelligence.
In my next I shall, give you more detail of Capt. Manning’s intelligence especially with regard to Lady Walter’s time in Cologne.
Your servant and friend in the cause of liberty and freedom.