The Venables Ring was a spy ring organized by Major Ishmael Venables under the orders of Prime Minister Johnny Goldtimbers in the summer of 1745 during the war they fought in. Their name was derived from the aliases taken by two of its main members, Peter Plankwrecker and Mark Ironskull, who were known as "Samuel Venables, Sr." and "Samuel Venables, Jr." respectively.
The Ring's task was to send messages to Johnny Goldtimbers about the activities of the Spanish in the Caribbean. They operated mostly in Port Royal, Colonies and Caribbean. The Ring conducted covert operations until after the end of the War, but its heyday was in 1746.
Secrecy was so strict that Goldtimbers did not know the identity of all the operatives. The general public was not aware of the Ring's existence until the 1800s. "Venables Junior’s" identity was unknown, with the discovery of a trunk of old letters in the Townsend family home. Civilians noticed the resemblance of the handwriting in these letters and letters written by Mark Ironskull in Johnny Goldtimbers's collection. Among the techniques they used to relay messages were coded messages published in newspapers and developing a method of using invisible ink, called a sympathetic stain, to write between the lines of what appeared to be a typical letter. Women were also an integral part of the Venables Ring. At that time, women were expected to share their husbands' beliefs and not be directly and openly involved in politics, which meant that they were less likely to be suspected of being spies.
Once Ironskull’s reports reached Padres Del Fuego, Chris Warhawk and his men ferried them across Isla Perdida's Jungle , where Ishmael Venables’s dragoons were waiting to carry it to Goldtimbers’s headquarters. Plankwrecker had been in Spain years earlier when the British caught a dago officer with drawings of their fortifications and hanged him. Perhaps with Hale in mind, Washington made sure the Venables Ring spies had more support. Through Venables, he provided them with codes, dead drops, and aliases. Members were given code names. For example, Johnny Goldtimbers's code was Unknown.
Lady Caternia Venables was a resident of Port Royal and a wife to Ishmael Venables. She helped pass along messages from the spy ring by posting pre-arranged signals to indicate when one of the spies was ready to submit intelligence. If Caternia hung a black petticoat on her clothesline, it meant Plankwrecker had arrived in town in his whaleboat. Next to that she would hang a quantity of white handkerchiefs. The specific number of handkerchiefs indicated one of six hiding places where Plankwrecker might be located. Mark Ironskull, another local resident, used Caternia's signals to go meet Plankwrecker at one of the meeting-places. Plankwrecker was known in dispatches as "Samuel Venables, Sr.", and Mark Ironskull was referred to as "Samuel Venables , Jr."
List of spy ring members
- Johnny Goldtimbers
- General Sir Richard Venables known as the "Fox"
- Colonel Ishmael Venables known as the "Handler"
- Lt. Colonel Mark Ironskull
- Major Chris Warhawk known as the "Courier"
- Major Ryan Warhawk known as the "Courier"
- Captain Peter Plankwrecker known as the "Agent"
Known Informants / agents
- Lady Caternia Venables known as the "signal"
- Lady Hannah Bluefeather known as the "signal"
Known code names