Anthony was born at Dethick in Derbyshire on 24 October 1561. His father died when Anthony was just 9 years old and his mother remarried into another of Derbyshire’s gentry families. At some point the boy, who was a third son, was employed in the household of the Earl of Shrewsbury where he served as a page to Mary Queen of Scots.
In 1580 he met with Thomas Morgan, in the employ of Mary Queen of Scots agent James Beaton and probably Sir Francis Walingham, Elizabeth I’s spymaster. He was persuaded to take letters to Mary. In early 1586 he refused to carry letters as by then the Earl of Shrewsbury had been relieved of his duties as Mary’s gaoler and the terms of her confinement were much stricter. It was at about that time that he made the acquaintance of Robert Poley, who unknown to Anthony, was yet another of Walsingham’s agents (who needs James Bond?)
When Walsingham captured Gilbert Giffard and turned him (well who wants to die a very nasty death anyway) the stage was set for a more letters to be smuggled to Mary. Giffard contacted the French and arranged for letters to be smuggled into Mary by beer barrels at Chartley Castle. No one realised the whole set up was carefully staged by Sir Francis Walsingham. In July 1586 Babington laid out the details of a plot to put Mary on the throne and condemned himself and by her response, Mary, to death.
By the 3rd September 1586 Babington was in the Tower. His house at Dethick was searched. Two of his sisters were there and his 2 year old daughter Ellen. Ellen’s mother, who was married to Babington 1579 had fled.
Unsurprisingly Babington was convicted of treason, hanged, drawn and quartered on 20 September along with Ballard and five others somewhere near Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Seven more conspirators died the following day. It was a week since their trial.