Thomas Miller Beach
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His services enabled the British Government to take measures which led to the fiasco of the Canadian invasion of 1870 and Kiel's surrender in 1871, and he supplied full details concerning the various Irish-American associations, in which he himself was a prominent member.
His infiltration of the Fenians and subsequent reports and espionage greatly aided Canada in protecting itself from the Fenian raids which took place from 1866 - 1871.
Infected with the excitement of the American Civil War, he crossed the Atlantic in 1861 and enlisted in the Northern army, taking the name of Henri Le Caron.
In 1864, he married a young lady who had helped him to escape from some Confederate marauders; and by the end of the war he rose to the rank of major. In 1865, through a companion in arms named John O'Neill, he was brought into contact with Fenianism, and having learnt of the Fenian plot against Canada (the Fenian raids), he mentioned the designs when writing home to his father in England. Beach's father told his local M.P., who in turn told the Home Secretary, and the latter asked Beach to arrange for further information.
He was proficient in medicine, among other qualifications for this post, and he remained for years on intimate terms with the most extreme men in the Fenian organization.
He was in the secrets of the "new departure" in 1879-1881, and in the latter year had an interview with Charles Stewart Parnell at the House of Commons, when the Irish leader allegedly spoke sympathetically of an armed revolution in Ireland.
End of career
The Parnell Commission of 1889 put an end to Beach's spying career. He was subpoenaed by The Times, and in the witness-box the whole story came out, all the efforts of Sir Charles Russell in cross-examination failing to shake his testimony. Nevertheless, The Times lost the case, Beach's career, for good or evil, was at an end, and Parnell, who had always insisted that he was opposed to violence, was completely exonerated.
Beach published the story of his life, Twenty-five Years in the Secret Service, in 1892 and it had an immense circulation, but he had to be constantly guarded, his acquaintances were hampered from seeing him, and he was the victim of a painful disease, peritonitis, from which he died on 1 April 1894.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- Clark, Joseph. "The Spy who came in from the Coalfield, A British Spy in Illinois", Journal of Illinois History, vol 10, no. 2, Summer, 2007
- Edwards, Peter Delusion. The True Story of Victorian Superspy Henri Le Caron, Toronto: Key Porter Books, 2008