John Clay, the antagonist of the story, is a criminal mastermind in London. Sherlock Holmes even describes Clay as the fourth-smartest man in the city, and were it not for his criminality, Clay might even be a respectable figure. Clay has royal blood (his grandfather was a duke) and is extremely well educated, having studied at Eton and Oxford. This heritage makes him pompous and refined—even when he’s arrested, he requests that the police officer address him as “sir” and remember to say “please.” At the story’s opening, Clay works as Jabez Wilson’s assistant under the alias of Vincent Spaulding. This job, coupled with his brilliant creation of the Red-Headed League job opening, allow him to lure Wilson out of the house. With Wilson out of the way, Clay is able to dig a tunnel from Wilson’s property to the bank’s cellar. Although Clay plans on robbing the bank with his accomplice, Archie, and escaping undetected through the tunnel, Holmes intervenes in the nick of time, and both criminals are captured.