Events leading up to the American Revolutionary War played a key role in what one would define as double agent operations. What is a double agent? The Merriam-Webster describes a double agent as serving one government while in reality the agent is spying for another government. One such double agent was Dr. Edward Bancroft. Researchers have played the epic game of tug of war with the idea that Edward Bancroft was a double agent spying for both, the Great Britain and the United States of America. This would be true if the United States of America was a country, operating on its own government, fighting an invading power. The American Revolutionary War began in 1775, Congress signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and Edward Bancroft’s spying for Great Britain began around 1774. By Merriam-Webster standards, Edward Bancroft, considered a double agent, was in fact was just loyalist wishing the colonial uprising would quell and the colonies would remain subjects of Great Britain.
Edward Bartholomew Bancroft was born 20 January 1745 in Westfield, Massachusetts to Edward and Mary Bancroft. Edward Bancroft had one sibling, a brother Daniel, born in 1746. The senior Bancroft died at the early age of 28, leaving the widow Mary to take care of little Edward and John. The widow Bancroft met David Bull whom she married in 1751. The new family moved throughout the New England area of the colonies and ended up settling in Hartford, Connecticut. David Bull became a proprietor of a local tavern in Hartford. Edward Bancroft would not grow to have a normal education. His mother saw the need of studies and in 1759, Silas Deane, a graduate of Yale College, became a private tutor for Edward Bancroft. These studies would prove beneficial for Edward Bancroft’s future. Although the studies were short, lasting only six months, Edward Bancroft felt compelled to become proficient in his learning ability and with the lack of monetary support for pristine education he would learn to become self-sufficient.
At 15 years of age, in 1760, the Bancroft family moved, yet again, to Killingworth, Connecticut. This move would prove profitable for Edward Bancroft’s studies. Edward Bancroft became an apprentice to a local physician named Dr. Benjamin Gale. In the 18th Century, one did not have to attend medical school to become a physician. The practice of apprenticeship was common and an apprentice work for a medical doctor for approximately two to six years prior to becoming his or her own practicing physician. This is what Edward Bancroft hoped to attain while living in Killingworth, but a need for adventure took over and the need to leave the colonies encompassed his desires. This would begin Edward Bancroft’s many adventures.
In 1763, still in his teens, Edward Bancroft left the apprenticeship in Connecticut and sailed to Dutch Guiana. Dutch Guiana would be the location Edward Bancroft would spend the next two and a half years of his life. Guiana...