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69 Huntington Libr. Q. 195 (2006)


Historians have known of the letters of “Anthony Rivers,” recounting religious, political, and military affairs from the court in London in 1601–3, and of certain dispatches from Rome forwarded to Robert Cecil by Thomas Phelippes, “the Decipherer,” in 1602. In this article, Patrick Martin and John Finnis show that the letters and dispatches were integral to a coordinated effort by William Sterrell, secretary to the Earl of Worcester and long-time double agent, and Father Robert Persons, prefect in Rome of the Jesuit mission to England, to frustrate the climactic third appeal to the pope by the disaffected secular priests known as the Appellants. Sterell assisted Persons by authoring the “Rivers” letters, which kept Persons and others informed of the government's actions and policies, as well as by promptly forwarding to him for refutation the Appellants' publications as they appeared, and notably by forwarding to the queen and Cecil the dispatches from Rome—which we show were written by Persons himself. This coordinated effort had some success.


Reprinted with permission of Huntington Library Quarterly.

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