Colquhoun Grant was one of the Duke
of Wellington’s most famous intelligence officers, but he
never thought of himself as a spy. In the nineteenth century spying
was still considered an underhand and dishonest way of warfare. To
brand Grant a spy would have been to cast doubt on his status as an
officer and a gentleman.
Grant was born in 1780 in Morayshire, the youngest of eight brothers.
He became an infantry soldier before he was fifteen and his army life
was dominated by the rise of Napoleon
Bonaparte in Europe and the threat of cross-Channel invasion.
In 1808 he followed Wellington to Spain and Portugal for the Peninsular
Wellington soon realised that the French outnumbered his forces.
He therefore needed to have as much advance information as possible
and he developed a network of intelligence officers and local spies.
He valued both strategic information, gathered by the interception
of enemy letters, and tactical intelligence, gathered by men in the
field such as ‘exploring
For more on Wellington’s intelligence gathering,
read about General Scovell