Dr Hector Nunes, a Portuguese merchant, physician and spy, who resided in London between 1545 and 1591, remains an obscure figure in English history in the eyes of Jewish and general historians. Neither The Jem in the History of England 1485-1850 by David S. Katz nor Shakespeare and the Jews by James Shapiro offer new information on the life of Dr Hector Nunes, who deserves serious attention. His contributions in the fields of medicine and intelligence have been ignored. New research indicates that as early as 5 August 1571, Spain was aware of his network in Flanders. Yet he continued to provide Lord Burghley, the Treasurer of England, and Sir Francis Walsingham, the Principal Secretary, with diplomatic, economic and political information. The triumph of his covert activities occurred in June 1587. Geronimo Pardo, a kinsman, brought Dr Nunes information concerning Spanish preparations for the Armada, a full year before her departure for England. The recipient was Walsingham, who was head of English intelligence.
The focus of my research is to determine whether Dr Nunes collaborated with Spain in order to further his commercial interests in Barbary, the Iberian Peninsula and the Low Countries, or was a double agent and sympathizer. On at least two occasions Dr Nunes provided services for Spanish officials. Without new documentation, however, this researcher can only utilize exist- ing citations and theorize on Dr Nunes's objectives. Further research may illuminate the questions raised.