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How the first 007 was a Tudor spy for Elizabeth I who used tennis to weed out Catholics 

License to fringe! How the first 007 was a Tudor spy for Elizabeth I who used tennis to wipe out Catholics?

  • The first spy to use ‘007’ was a Tudor man posing as a tennis player
  • It is believed that Jack Dee would gather information for Queen Elizabeth I
  • In letters to the Queen, Dr. Dee the code ‘007’ to prove them as real

Serving his queen and country has always been important to James Bond.

And the original 007 may have done it quite literally — on the tennis court.

The first spy to use “007” as a code was a Tudor man posing as a tennis player to gather information for Elizabeth I, according to author Christian Howgill.

Pictured: John Dee, Queen Elizabeth I's astrologer and the

Pictured: John Dee, Queen Elizabeth I’s astrologer and the “original 007.” According to author Christian Howgill, Elizabeth I would send spies disguised as tennis players to gather information for her – Jack Dee was a ‘special favourite’

Mr Howgill told an audience at the Chalke Valley History Festival sponsored by the Daily Mail that John Dee was a ‘special favourite’ of the Queen.

Intelligence services were important to her because she was a Protestant, surrounded by Catholics not only in her own country but all over Europe, and had a Catholic rival for the throne in Mary, Queen of Scots.

Mr Howgill said: ‘Elizabeth, I would send spies posing as tennis players to secretly gather information for her. After the games, tongues came loose and they discovered who was really Protestant and who was Catholic.’

Early forms of tennis were popular at the time and often played for big stakes.

Pictured: Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I. Jack Dee would send letters to the Queen with the code 007 so she would know it was real.  dr.  Dee studied at St John's College, Cambridge, and was regarded as one of the most learned men of his generation

Pictured: Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I. Jack Dee would send letters to the Queen with the code 007 so she would know it was real. dr. Dee studied at St John’s College, Cambridge, and was regarded as one of the most learned men of his generation

Mr Howgill, author of the book How Tennis Invented Everything, continues, “They thought they were playing for money, but actually they were playing for their lives. There was a special favorite of hers, a man named John Dee.

Every time he wrote to her, he used a secret code in his letters so she knew it was his and not someone trying to give her false information. The code was 007.

“If he used the phrase 007 in the letter, she knew it was real. This was something Ian Fleming knew and incorporated into his books.’

He added: “As improbable as it may sound, James Bond invented tennis.”

dr. Dee studied at St John’s College, Cambridge, and was regarded as one of the most learned men of his generation.

Pictured: Daniel Craig as the modern day James Bond.  007 is largely associated with the James Bond spy movies.  It is believed that Dr.  Dee used '00' in his letters to symbolize his eyes or was a code meaning 'just for your eyes'

Pictured: Daniel Craig as the modern day James Bond. 007 is largely associated with the James Bond spy movies. It is believed that Dr. Dee used ’00’ in his letters to symbolize his eyes or was a code meaning ‘just for your eyes’

In the years after Elizabeth I took the throne in 1558, she appointed him as her scientific and astrological advisor.

Supporters of the theory that he was a spy think that the ’00’ used in his letters to the Queen could symbolize his eyes or could be a code meaning ‘only for your eyes’.

The ‘7’ may have been a sacred or lucky number that Dr. Dee — who was fascinated by numerology and the mystical property of numbers — would have considered it a cautious addition.

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