William Wickham was, like many who ended up in the spying game during the 18th century, born into a world of wealth and privilege. He started by acquiring a law degree from a prestigious British academy and then entered into the field of diplomacy. He performed in a number of other political roles and would eventually end up as ambassador to Switzerland though his chief duty would always be acting as a spymaster for the British government.
At the time, the relationship between England and France was a violent one. The French Revolution was in full swing and England had a vested interest in overthrowing the ‘upstart’ Napoleon Bonaparte and establishing King Louis XVIII as the new king of France. Wickham worked his end by organizing a spy network in Switzerland and France, seeking to corrupt various French elements into turning on their new leaders. He also attempted to bring other foreign powers into the fight in hopes of overwhelming France from both within and without.