About Gilbert Giffard, Spy
Gifford, Gilbert (c.1561-1590)
The authorities considered him "the most notable double, treble villain that ever lived."
A friend of John Ballard, Gifford was involved in the Babington Plot to assassinate Elizabeth I. He betrayed Ballard and Babington by passing all the secret letters between Mary and the conspirators to Sir Francis Walsingham. As a double agent, Gifford was known as No. 4 in London and used many aliases, such as Colerdin, Pietro and Cornelys. He fled to the continent in 1586 as the plot unravelled.
He subsequently went absent without leave and was arrested by the forces of the Catholic League in a Paris brothel, together with an English prostitute and a man who claimed to be a retainer of the Earl of Essex. Imprisoned for 2 years, he died during the siege of Paris in 1590.
It is not certain what Gilbert's motives were.
- 13. Letter of Sir Edward Stafford to Walsingham, January 1588, Calendar of State Papers Foreign, Elizabeth, Volume 21, Part 1: 1586-1588