1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Le Caron, Henri

LE CARON, HENRI (whose real name was Thomas Miller Beach) (1841–1894), British secret service agent, was born at Colchester, on the 26th of September 1841. He was of an adventurous character, and when nineteen years old went to Paris, where he found employment in business connected with America. 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 be major. In 1865, through a companion in arms named O’Neill, he was brought into contact with Fenianism, and having learnt of the Fenian plot against Canada, he mentioned the designs when writing home to his father. Mr Beach told his local M.P., who in turn told the Home Secretary, and the latter asked Mr Beach to arrange for further information. Le Caron, inspired (as all the evidence shows) by genuinely patriotic feeling, from that time till 1889 acted for the British government as a paid military spy. He was a 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 under all its forms. His services enabled the British government to take measures which led to the fiasco of the Canadian invasion of 1870 and Riel’s surrender in 1871, and he supplied full details concerning the various Irish-American associations, in which he himself was a prominent member. He was in the secrets of the “new departure” in 1879–1881, and in the latter year had an interview with Parnell at the House of Commons, when the Irish leader spoke sympathetically of an armed revolution in Ireland. For twenty-five years he lived at Detroit and other places in America, paying occasional visits to Europe, and all the time carrying his life in his hand. The Parnell Commission of 1889 put an end to this. Le Caron 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, or to impair the impression of iron tenacity and absolute truthfulness which his bearing conveyed. His career, however, for good or evil, was at an end. He published the story of his life, Twenty-five Years in the Secret Service, 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, of which he died on the 1st of April 1894. The report of the Parnell Commission is his monument.