THE GUN POWDER PLOT
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should never be forgotten!
What is Guy Fawkes night all about, who was involved?
The night of November the 5th, has been now for over four centuries, an event where people light their Bonfires or have fireworks. It’s now become a popular tradition and acceptable custom in England to commemorate it, but how many of us stop and think why? Or what this night represented.
The Gunpowder plot, was a failed assassination, on King James 1st England, VI of Scotland, which was on the 5th of November 1605. Only two years after he inherited the English Throne. The assassination was planned by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby. Their plan was to blow up the Houses of Parliament, while they held their meeting inside. They also planned to kidnap King’s daughter Princess Elizabeth and install her as a Catholic head of state.
The 16th Century saw many changes to the church, beginning with King Henry VIII, and then his son Edward VI becoming head of the new church of England in the reformation. In July 1553, Edward VI died and then Mary, the oldest daughter of Henry VIII, inherited the English throne. Mary within her brief five-year reign brought back the Catholic faith and made it known practising protestant religion would not be accepted. Resulting in many Protestants going into exile. In November 1558, Mary 1st died, and Henry VIII youngest daughter Elizabeth 1st was now on the throne. Elizabeth was a Protestant, and now with her reign, she brought in regulations and rules that banned practising the Catholic religion.
Elizabeth had made a voluntary choice to not marry and that came with a cost, and that cost was she would have no direct heir. Elizabeth knew she would have to now decide on who would be her successor. Elizabeth then decided on making her successor James VI of Scotland, the son of her late adversary Mary Queen of Scots. By 1594. James had already had a son, Prince Henry, so he came with an heir, he practised the Protestant faith, and he was of The Tudor Bloodline.
In March 1603, Elizabeth the 1st died, and James VI of Scotland became James the 1st of England. James appeared to want to work towards a more tolerant approach to the Catholic faith. However, once King James was comfortable in his position as the now titled King Great Britain, it became obvious this would not be the case. James would move towards exiling the Catholics rather than tolerating. Many of the Catholics felt disillusioned and let down.
In early 1604, Robert Catesby, the leader of the Gun powder plot began looking to recruit people who would not only support his cause but be participants. Robert Catesby not only wanted to blow up Parliament killing King James in the process but kidnap the king’s daughter Princess Elizabeth and install her as Queen. Robert managed to recruit twelve people to be involved in his cause.
On 20th May 1604, the groups had had its first meeting in a place called “ The Duck And Drake Inn. Robert had belonged to a network of wealthy Catholic Families, and he turned to some of his relatives for support.
Originally parliament had planned to meet in the February of 1605, but due to the plague it was delayed until 3 October, but by October parliament would again be delayed until November 5th.
In the march of 1605, the group took a lease out on a cellar, that happened to be directly under the Houses of Parliament. “. It seemed that the plot was now coming together. However, by August 1605, Robert had to invite new recruits into the group due to their Funds were running out. Many of the group were not comfortable with this, but for their plan to work, Robert made it clear this was the only choice
As the time got closer, many of the conspirators involved, began to become concerned about people they knew who would be present in The Houses of Parliament on the day that was planned for the explosion. Thomas Percy was concerned for his patron, Earl of Northumberland, and when the young Earl of Arundel's name was mentioned Robert Catesby suggested that a minor wound might keep him from the Parliament on that day. Robert Keyes wanted to warn the Earl of Peterborough was and was mocked for his suggestion. It would seem the closer they were getting to the time, the more the realisation of the impact it would cause on those they were familiar with. Robert Catesby convinced most of the group, that the innocent must suffer for the guilty. Francis Tresham, Robert’s cousin seemed not so comfortable with this thought, he was concerned about his brother in law William Parker, who would be at Parliament that day. This concern of Francis would lead the group to maybe believe that is was Francis who betrayed them in the weeks to come.
Robert Catesby had also planned to incite a rebellion in the Midlands, during which in the process they would kidnap King James's nine-year-old daughter Princess Elizabeth, and installed as titular queen.
ANONYMOUS LETTER & (CAPTURE)
On the 26th October 1605, William Parker, 4th Baron Montage, claimed he had received, an anonymous letter, revealing A plot to blow up parliament. William was due to attend parliament on the 5th November He, had many ties with Catholic families, and had some empathy for their cause. His wife came from a Catholic family, and his sister was married to a Catholic. When King James came to the throne, William wrote to the king, assuring him, he was done with all plots and would follow whatever religion the state declares. William took the Anonymous Letter to William Cecil. Cecil. then took the letter to the king.
There was enough suspicion over the letter, that on the night of the 4th November, Guards along with Edmund Doubleday and Thomas Knyvet, 1st Baron Knyvet. Went to check under the houses of Parliament, where they found Guy Fawkes along with the matches and the Gun Powder. Enough gunpowder to blow up Parliament twenty times over.
Guy Fawkes was first taken to be interrogated by the Privy Chamber and then a few days later King James decided other methods of retrieving information need to be undergone. When under interrogation, Guy Had been asked why he was in possession of so much Gun Powder and Fawkes answered that his intention was "To blow you, Scotch beggars, back to your native mountains.". Guy Fawkes under extreme torture revealed the names of other conspirators
After word got out of Guy Fawkes capture, the conspirators who were left in London fled to the Midlands, to where the rest were still under the leadership of Robert Catesby. The Group that who were now fugitives stole horses from Warwick Castle and further supplies from Hewell Grange. They found that as word had got out, fewer people were willing to support them, for fear of being classed as traitors to the crown. By the time that they had reached Holbeche House they were all exhausted, the gunpowder they had been carrying was wet with the bad weather, so in ignorance tried to dry it of standing by the fire. A spark from the fire landed on the powder and the result that flames engulfed Catesby, Rookwood, Grant, and another man.
By 8th November. Two hundred men led by Sir Richard Walsh caught up with them at Holbeche House in Staffordshire. Richard Walsh first offered for them to surrender and when they refused, there was only one option.
The conspirators inside were either captured or killed. Robert Catesby and Thomas Percy were reportedly both dropped by a single lucky shot of a musket ball. Robert managed to crawl back inside the house, where his body was later found, clutching a picture of the Virgin Mary. John Wright was shot, followed by his brother Christopher. Ambrose Rookwood was captured alive and later held in Worcester gaol. Everard Digby had made his mind up before this point to give himself up, which he did. Other conspirators that had fled and went into hiding, were found and brought in to face justice.
Those who had been arrested as conspirators were interrogated for most of the time they had spent in the Tower of London. It was said on the day of the trial, that King James and his family, watched the trial in secret.
Francis Tresham died of natural causes in the Tower of London on the 23rd December 1605. Now leaving eight conspirators to stand trial.
On the 27th January 1606, eight male conspirators were tried by the Lords Commissioners in Westminster Hall. The Plotters were brought by barge from the Tower of London, only Thomas Bates, arrived from the Gatehouse Prison to Whitehall. The Plotter was kept in the Star Chamber before being led into Westminster. Inside the court, it was packed with spectators who listening intensely as each of the accused spoke.
John Popham, Edward Coke and Sir Thomas Fleming were of the judges who sat on the trial, John Popham had sat in many trials before, he sat on the trial of the King's mother, Mary Queen of Scots and presided over the trials of Sir Walter Raleigh (1603).
They were all allowed to speak individually "wherefore judgement of death should not be pronounced against them. Ambrose Rookwood said he loved Robert Catesby above all on this earth and followed him for that reason, he didn’t expect mercy but would ask for it anyway. Guy Fawkes, pleaded not guilty despite his apparent acceptance of guilt from the moment he was captured. Everard, gave a speech in the courtroom, appealing to the mercy of the judges to be beheaded, rather than being hung drawn and quartered. He also asked for his actions do not cost the rest of his family, He then went on to trying to justify his actions, mentioning about King James not keeping to his promise on toleration with the Catholics led to his part in the plot. However, his words fell on deaf ears. Robert Keyes made no attempt to excuse his actions, he claimed that "death was as good now as at any other time
The jury found all the defendants guilty. Sir Edward Coke, the Attorney General told the court that each of the condemned would be drawn back to his death, by a horse, his head near the ground. They were to be "put to death halfway between heaven and earth as unworthy of both".
Thomas Fleming one of the judges who presided over the trial was later criticised as he was accused of attempting "to look wise, and say nothing. The conspirators had no legal representation, so the trial was quite an easy one to conduct. Edward Coke had made speeches blackening to the world each of the accused in turn.
On the 30th January 1606, Throngs of spectators lined the streets. Thomas Bates had been tied to a wattled hurdle and dragged by horse along the street from the Gatehouse Prison to the western end of St Paul's Cathedral Churchyard, which was the place of execution.
The first to be executed was, Everard Digby and then Robert Wintour, then John Grant and Thomas Bates. Thomas Bates was the last to ascend to the scaffold that day, Everard Digby was hanged after being stripped of his clothing except for his shirt, he was then cut down fully conscience. Then he was castrated, disembowelled, drawn and quartered that same day. The rest followed to and met the same gruesome end.
The next day, On the 31st January, Guy Fawkes, Thomas Wintour, Ambrose Rookwood, and Robert Keyes – were dragged n) from the Tower on wattled hurdles to the Old Palace Yard at Westminster, opposite the building they had attempted to destroy. Ambrose Rookwood had asked to be told when he passed his own home so he could open his eyes and look on his wife waiting at the window. Ambrose shouted to his wife to pray for him, and his wife cried back to him “Be of great Courage”.
Thomas and Ambrose were then hanged and quartered. Robert Keyes went "stoutly" up the ladder, but with the halter around his neck he threw himself off, presumably attempting a quick death. The halter broke, and he was taken to the block, to suffer the rest of his sentence. Guy Fawkes was the last to stand on the scaffold. He asked for forgiveness of the King and state, Guy was weak, after being tortured and needed the aid of the loose man, he either jumped to his death, or incorrectly fell into the loose, he managed to avoid the agony of the latter part of his execution by breaking his neck in the process. Guy’s lifeless body was nevertheless quartered and, as was the custom, his body parts were then distributed to "the four corners of the kingdom", to be displayed as a warning to other would-be traitors.
The bodies of Robert Catesby and Thomas Percy were exhumed and decapitated. The heads of the two ringleaders, Percy and Catesby, were set up on the 'Parliament House' for all to see.
OTHERS DRAWN INTO THE CONSPIRACY
There were other people, who were not conspirators, but were arrested and drawn in to the plot. One of which was an Anne Vaux. Anne Vaux was one who was not directly involved with the Gun Powder Plot, but a had connection with those who were. Anne and her sister Eleanor had helped shelter Catholic priests in the past, by renting houses where priests could convene safely. Anne was also related to Francis Tresham a conspirator. However, she was particularly close to Father Henry Garnet, a Jesuit priest.
When the Plot was revealed, Anne was arrested, but was later released on a bond put up by Lewis Pickering. Anne tried her best to hide Father Henry Garnet, in the home of Thomas Abington at Hindlip, in Worcestershire, but he was found and sent to trial on 25th January 1606.
Anne travelled down to London, to where the trial was held, and even attempted to secretly communicate with him, using letters written in Orange Juice. The messages were later discovered and Anne was arrested in March 1606, but later proclaimed herself innocent of treason, however, under the pressure of interrogation she admitted to receiving conspirators at her house; she was nether less released in August 1606.
Another person drawn in, was a Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland, who was a relative of Thomas Percy one of the conspirators whom was shot at Holbeche House. Henry ended up spending seventeen years in the Tower of London, as it was suspected that he was a part of the plot. He also paid a fine of £30,000. Henry’s life was spared largely on the basis that he had intended to attend parliament on the day of the Plot was to take place, so this was seen as evidence his innocence of any direct involvement in or knowledge of the Plot. Henry however made himself quite comfortable in the tower. He took over the Martin Tower and had a covered-over bowling alley installed.
It would be ordinary Catholics that would pay the price for what happened, for nearly a century. New laws were passed preventing them from practising law, serving as officers in the Army or Navy, or voting in local or Parliamentary elections. It wouldn’t be till 1829, that Catholics would be permitted to vote again. When the Great Fire Happened in September 1666, they were even named for being behind that and unfairly fingered in the Popish Plot of 1678. Thirteen plotters certainly proved an unlucky number for British Catholics:
AFTER THIS EVENT ON THE 5th NOVEMBER 1605, LONDONERS WERE ENCOURAGED TO CELEBRATE THE KING'S ESCAPE FROM ASSASSINATION BY LIGHTING BONFIRES, THIS TRADITION HAS CARRIED ON FOR CENTURIES SINCE.
THOSE INVOLVED IN THE GUNPOWDER PLOT
TIMELINE OF THE GUNPOWDER PLOT
MARCH: ELIZABETH 1ST ENGLAND DIED AND JAMES VI ASCENDED TO THE ENGLISH THRONE.
24TH APRIL EVERARD DIGBY WAS KNIGHTED BY KING JAMES I AT BELVOIR CASTLE
20TH MAY: THE CONSPIRATOR GROUP MET UP FOR THE FIRST TIME AT THE DUCK AND DRAKE INN, IN LONDON, AFTER THE MEETING THEY SWORE AN OATH OF SECRECY ON A PRAYER BOOK AND CELEBRATED MASS
JUNE THOMAS PERCY, WAS PROMOTED, GAINING ACCESS TO A HOUSE IN LONDON THAT BELONGED TO JOHN WHYNNIARD, KEEPER OF THE KING'S WARDROBE
OCTOBER: ROBERT KEYES WAS ADMITTED TO THE CONSPIRACY GROUP
25TH MARCH ROBERT CATESBY HAD RECRUITED THREE MORE PEOPLE: ROBERT WINTOUR, CHRISTOPHER WRIGHT, AND JOHN GRANT
THE GROUP TOOK OUT A LEASE ON A GROUND FLOOR CELLAR. THE CELLAR LAY DIRECTLY UNDERNEATH THE HOUSE OF LORDS, AND OVER THE FOLLOWING MONTHS THIRTY-SIX BARRELS OF GUNPOWDER WERE MOVED IN AND STORED.
JUNE: ROBERT CATESBY MET THE PRINCIPAL JESUIT IN ENGLAND, FATHER HENRY GARNET, ON THAMES STREET IN LONDON.
20TH JULY THE EXPLOSIVES WERE IN POSITION UNDERNEATH THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT
24TH JULY: FATHER GARNET MET WITH ROBERT CATESBY AT WHITE WEBB’S IN ENFIELD CHASE, THE HOME OF CATESBY'S WEALTHY RELATIVE ANNE VAUX.
AUGUST: THE CONSPIRATORS HELD A SECRET MEETING IN BATH, BY THIS POINT CATESBY WAS RUNNING OUT MONEY FOR WHAT THEY HAD PLANNED.
SEPTEMBER CATESBY ENLISTS AMBROSE ROOKWOOD,
14TH OCTOBER: FRANCIS TRESHAM WAS BROUGHT INTO THE GUNPOWDER PLOT GROUP
21ST OCTOBER EVERARD DIGBY MET WITH ROBERT CATESBY AND SWORE AN OATH AFTER LEARNING OF THE GUNPOWDER PLOT
OCTOBER ROBERT CATESBY HAD TWELVE MEN, ASSIGNED TO THE GUNPOWDER PLOT.
26TH OCTOBER: WILLIAM PARKER, 4TH BARON MONTEAGLE (TRESHAM'S BROTHER-IN-LAW) RECEIVED AN ANONYMOUS LETTER WHILE AT HIS HOUSE IN HOXTON, WARNING HIM NOT TO ATTEND PARLIAMENT. HE THEN RUSHED TO WHITEHALL AND SHOWED IT TO ROBERT CECIL, 1ST EARL OF SALISBURY, WHO THEN SHOWED IT TO THE KING.
FRIDAY 1ST NOVEMBER: THE ANONYMOUS LETTER IS SHOWN TO KING JAMES REVEALING THE PLOT
3RD NOVEMBER: ROBERT CATESBY MET WITH ROBERT WINTOUR AND THOMAS PERCY IN LONDON
NOVEMBER 4TH: WILLIAM PARKER, 4TH BARON MONTEAGLE JOINED THOMAS HOWARD IN SEARCHING THE BASEMENT OF PARLIAMENT, WHERE THEY FOUND THE STASH OF GUNPOWDER AND EXPLOSIVE, WITH GUY FAWKES THERE GUARDING IT, GUY FAWKES IS INTERROGATED BY THE PRIVY COUNCIL.
ROBERT KEYES AND AMBROSE ROOKWOOD SPENT THE NIGHT BEFORE THE PLANNED EXPLOSION AT THE HOUSE OF AN ELIZABETH MORE, NEAR TEMPLE BAR.
ROBERT CATESBY, JOHN WRIGHT AND BATES LEFT FOR THE MIDLANDS, READY FOR THE PLANNED UPRISING
JOHN GRANT AND A FRIEND WERE IN DUNCHURCH AT THE RED LION INN, WITH THE NEWLY RECRUITED EVERARD DIGBY AND HIS "HUNTING PARTY
WHILE GUY FAWKES WAS DISCOVERED AND ARRESTED.
5TH NOVEMBER: THE GROUP OF CONSPIRATORS TO GUNPOWDER PLOT ATTENDED MASS
6TH NOVEMBER: KING JAMES ORDERS THAT GUY FAWKES IS TORTURED CATESBY AND OTHERS, RAIDED WARWICK CASTLE FOR SUPPLIES, BEFORE CONTINUING TO NORBROOK TO COLLECT STORED WEAPONS. GUY FAWKES UNDER TORTURE REVEALS NAMES OF OTHER CONSPIRATORS
7TH NOVEMBER ROBERT CATESBY IS ANNOUNCED BY THE GOVERNMENT AS A WANTED MAN.
8TH NOVEMBER BOTH WRIGHT BROTHERS JOHN AND CHRISTOPHER WERE TRACKED DOWN AND FIRED AT BY THE SHERIFF OF WORCESTER. HOLBECHE HOUSE, EVERALD DIGBY HAD A LEFT TO GIVE HIMSELF UP AND WAS THE ONLY ONE TO DO SO.
23RD NOVEMBER THOMAS WINTUR GIVES A SIGNED CONFESSION.
FRANCIS TRESHAM WAS ARRESTED
DECEMBER THOMAS BATES WHILE IN PRISON CLAIMED THAT FATHER OSWALD TESIMOND KNEW OF THE PLOT.
9TH JANUARY ROBERT WINTOUR AND STEPHEN LITTLETON ARE CAPTURED AT HAGLEY HALL AFTER TWO MONTHS OF HIDING
27TH JANUARY THE TRIAL OF EIGHT OF THE PLOTTERS BEGAN.
30TH JANUARY: THE EXECUTION OF THOMAS BATES
31ST JANUARY GUY FAWKES IS HUNG DRAWN AND QUARTERED
28TH MARCH THE TRIAL OF HENRY GARNET.
7TH APRIL: EXECUTION OF FATHER OLDCORNE, JOHN WINTOUR, AND RALPH ASHLEY HUMPHREY LITTLETON
3RD MAY HENRY GARNET IS EXECUTED BY MEANS OF HUNG, DRAWN AND QUARTERED