1586. Anthony Babington (1561–86), a Derbyshire gentleman and a catholic page in Mary Stuart's service in England
, was contacted by John Ballard, a catholic priest. The plan involved twelve men, six of whom were detailed to kill Elizabeth; the others, with Spanish and papal help, were to secure the freedom of Mary. Babington's failure was engineered by Sir Francis Walsingham
, who recruited a catholic, Gilbert Gifford, as an agent. Trusted by Babington and his fellow-conspirators, Gifford's job was to pass messages, hidden in a beer barrel, from Mary to the French ambassador: in fact the whole network was set up by Walsingham, who read the notes in transit. Babington was executed in September 1586. The plot sealed the fate of Mary by convincing Elizabeth that she was incorrigible.
Christopher N. Lanigan
Anthony Babington (băb´Ĭngtən), 1561–86, English conspirator. A member of the Roman Catholic gentry, he served as a youth in the household of the earl of Shrewsbury at Sheffield Castle, where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned. In 1586 he became involved in a plot to murder Queen Elizabeth I, to free Mary, and to make England a Catholic realm. The plot was discovered, Babington was executed, and the evidence against him was also used to convince Elizabeth that it was necessary to behead Mary.