[Major] Henri le Caron


Life
1841-1894 [var. Le Caron; prop. Thomas Miller Beach; var. Thomas Billis Beach]; b. Colchester; trained as Colchester draper; travelled to Paris in 1861, and learned French; emig. to America; served in Pennsylvanaia Reserves as Major Le Caron; Asst. Adj.-Gen., 1865; joined the Fenians while in the Union Army; later studied medicine, Detroit (MD - or perhaps not); practised in Detroit and later in Braidwood; settled in Nashville; fnd. Fenian group at Illinois; informed on Fenian raid to Canada commanded by Gen. O’Neill of the IRB, 1866; contacted Robert Anderson [q.v.] of Home Office in England, 1867; became a fndr. mbr. of Clan na Gael; paid 2,000 by British Govt. between 1868 and 1870;
 
assisted organisation of arms for second Fenian raid on Canada, informing Canadian Commissioner of Polie all the while, 1870; close friend of Alexander Sullivan of terrorist Triangle; also hoodwinked John Devoy, who omitted any mention of him in his memoirs; carried packets to John O’Leary and Patrick Egan in Paris, 1881, showing them to Anderson en route; trusted by Davitt, who spoke of his ‘gentlemanly manners and good address, and accepted his advice and prescribed for insomnia; introduced to Parnell by Egan; commissioned by Parnell to secure understanding between constitutionalists and American Fenians; denounced for Fenianism in America;
 
stood for House of Representatives, 1885; finally left America, 1888; examined in Parnell hearing, Feb. 1889, where he gave evidence of Parnell's complicity with the Land Leaguer and agrarian crime [i.e., Fenians], thus revealing his career in spying; paid 10,000 by British Govt. for his evidence, claiming patriotism as his motive for a lifetime of spying; retired in England and suffered nervous breakdown before death; issued Twenty-five Years in the Secret Service (1892) claimed that he spied as a patriot; paid 10,000 for contribution to smearing of Parnell. ODNB [under Beach] DIH

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Criticism
Peter Edwards, The Victorian Spy: Henri le Caron (London: Maverick 2009), 288pp.

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Commentary
Francis MacManus, ‘The Master Spy’, Adventures of an Irish Bookman (Dublin: Talbot Press 1952), pp.29-33, cites report of Parnell Commission: ‘He was a small wiry man, aged about fifty, slight in build, a very aleert and intelligent face, deep-set and dark eyes, wide and intellectual forehead and black hair. He looked the character he had personated to the life, and his examination was one of the few interesting incidents in the long investigation. His manner was excellent under cross examination, and he made a favourable impression upon the Court and upon counsel on both sides.’ [Further details as in Life, supra.]

Colonel Victor K. Kaledin, High Treason, Four Major Cases of the St Petersburg Personal Court (London: Hurst & Blackett 1936) [ded. to Gen. Sir Ian Hamilton], contains allusion, ‘As a result of D.13’s instructions, I received physical training parallel with my studies in the so-called ‘cub class’ of the Service. In the latter, a large gloomy room, I had to undergo a wearisome course of reading. There was the history of Le Caron, that notorious Irish-born spy whose pro-British activities stank so offensively in the nostrils of all true sons of Erin, and after that the figures of Stieber, Fouché, Barazoff, di Lucca, figner, Grauer, and Major Andre, long dead master- spies of Europe [...]’ (p.17.)

J. J. Abrahams, Surgeon's Journey: Autobiography ( London: Heinemann 1957), gives an account of his learning from Le Caron's Autobiography that Sir Robert Anderson was the spymaster in Dublin to whom the other carried his secret information on the Fenians. (p.51; see under Sir Robert Anderson, infra.)

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References
Hyland Books (Cat. 224) lists Twenty-five Years in the Secret Service (1892).

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