Evan Nepean

(Important in The Mistaken Wife)

It has been suggested that Evan Nepean’s (1752-1822) period of service in the Royal Navy may have included intelligence work, which would account for his unusual appointment as under-secretary of state in the Home Office in 1782.  There he had responsibility for departmental funds paid to foreign agents and oversaw the programme to monitor suspect aliens and nationals in London.  He continued his intelligence work when he moved to the department of War and the Colonies in 1794 and then to the Admiralty in 1795.  In 1797 the king wanted Nepean to take a leading role in planning a secret invasion of Spanish settlements in South America.  In 1804 he became chief secretary to the lord lieutenant of Ireland, but the appointment was not a success and he returned to the Admiralty as a junior lord.  He left government service in 1806, but continued a member of Parliament until 1812; he had entered the legislature in 1796 but rarely spoke in the House.  His last official post was as governor of Bombay – an appointment with the East India Company.  Throughout his career he was known as a thoroughly efficient, capable man of business.