View Blue Plaques in a larger map

Thursday, 11 November 2010

John Thurloe (1616-1668)

Oh I like this one, I really do.

I found it on my walk back to Liverpool Street Station from Oxford Circus after my last trip to London. I was out of the West End and wending my weary way through legal London thinking of the London walk that Ma and me did a couple of years ago, pretty much every building there is linked in some way to another to the legal profession or the needs of lawyers - photocopying shops, wine bars, newsagents... I took a bit of a detour around the LSE and was heading east when I spotted this little beauty

John Thurloe was born in Essex, his father was a rector, he became a secretary to the parliamentary commissioners at the Treaty of Uxbridge which ultimately failed to end the Civil War and was admitted to Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1647. After the war he became Secretary of State. Then things start to get interesting. He became head of intellegence in 1653 for which you may read "spymaster" this at the time of the commonwealth, with a sizable portion of the country mourning the death of the king and wanting the return of the crown...

He created a code-breaking section, his department broke a number of royalist plots including the Sealed Knot. He became MP for Ely in 1654. In 1656 he was made head of the Post Office which obviously gives him access to as much private information as you can shake a stick at.
I cant help but see parallels between Cromwellian England and Soviet Russia. Edward Sexby's and Miles Sindercombe's assassination plots were foiled although his own department was infiltrated. Thurloe supported Richard Cromwells succession in the power struggle after Cromwells death again as a precursor of Soviet Russia. Later that year he was accused of arbitrary action as head of intellegence and he lost his post.
After the restoration he was arested for high treason but was never tried on condition that he wopuld aid the new government. He served behind the scenes in the field of foreign affairs...