Papal agent at the English court; b. Aberdeen, Scotland, date unknown; d. Rome, Jan. 10, 1640. Con (Conn, Connaeus) was educated at Douai, the Scots College in Paris and Rome and at Bologna University. After tutoring the son of the Duke of Mirandola, Con went to Rome in 1623, entering the service of Cardinal Francesco Peretti Montalto and later that of Cardinal Francesco Barberini (secretary of state to Urban VIII). Barberini sent him in July 1636 as papal agent to Henrietta Maria, Queen of England, in succession to Gregorio panzani. Though not sharing the latter's optimism about reunion with Rome, Con succeeded in making individual converts, chiefly among the courtiers, and enlisted the queen's influence in easing the lot of English papists. At the same time the king, Charles I, found in Con a fellow Scot of charm and diplomatic skill, with whom he could talk freely. Their conversations on questions such as a proposed new oath of English Catholics, the suggestion of a cardinal's hat for Con, and a papal loan to aid the king against the Puritan Parliamentarians were reported at length by Con in fortnightly dispatches to Rome. Late in 1639 Con retired to Rome a sick man; there he died. His tomb, with marble bust and a long epitaph, is in San Lorenzo in Damaso, of which church he was a canon. Con published in Latin between 1621 and 1629, tracts on Scottish affairs and a life of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Bibliography: s. r. gardiner, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900 (London 1885–1900; repr. with corrections, 1908–09, 1921–22, 1938) 4:945–946. g. albion, Charles I and the Court of Rome (London 1935) passim. m. j. havran, The Catholics in Caroline England (Stanford 1962).