Ann Bates

Ann Bates was a loyalist spy who worked for Sir Henry Clinton during the Revolutionary War.

Ann lived in Philadelphia, working as a schoolteacher, and began her spy career sometime in 1778.  Because her husband was in the British army, it was easy for Bates to identify and report on the types of equipment and numbers of men being employed by the American army; she was already familiar with that kind of information.

Scanned copy of an original letter about Ms. Bates. You can find other letters, information on Revolutionary War spies, and a larger image at Spy Letters of the American Revolution.

Common thinking during the American Revolution conveyed that women were not smart enough to understand the issues relating to war. As a result, many women could easily overhear classified information by listening to the conversations of the men surrounding them.

Ann Bates took the pseudonym “Mrs. foones,” posed as a peddler, and sold her goods to Americans while secretly reporting information back to the British.  She even managed to gain access to George Washington‘s camp, which may be considered one of her biggest accomplishments.