The Co-Conspirators


Key To Above Picture:
Left To Right: Thomas Bates; Robert Wintour; Christopher Wright; John Wright; Thomas Percy; Guy Fawkes; Robert Catesby; Thomas Wintour
(Taken from an engraving circa 1605...Artist Unknown)

The core group of co-conspirators who were participants in the Gunpowder Plot numbered thirteen...it is interesting to note that ten of these (with the exception of Guy Fawkes, Sir Everard Digby and Thomas Bates) were all related to one another either by means of blood or through marriage.


Thomas Bates (a/k/a Thomas Bate): The date of Thomas Bates' birth is unknown, but he was born at Lapworth. He was a long-standing retainer to to Robert Catesby and the Catesby family, living in a cottage at Ashby St. Ledgers with his wife, Martha, and their children. In spite of his position as a servant and being described in his indictment as a yeoman, Bates was not a menial. He had his own servant and possessed a suit of armour. His employment appears to have been that of cattle-dealer on behalf of Catesby, to whom he was totally devoted. Bates proved to be invaluable to the conspirators, being totally loyal and reliable. As a man of "ordinary condition," he was able to undertake many activities, such as driving wagons and acting as a messenger, without attracting suspicion. After discovery of the plot, Bates fled London in the company of Catesby, but lost all resolve after he witnessed Catesby's injuries in the gunpowder explosion at Holbreche House. Given 100 pounds sterling by Christopher Wright, Bates fled the scene only to be captured in Staffordshire on November 12th. Being of low birth, he was incarcerated in the Gatehouse Prison instead of the Tower. During his examination on December 4th, it is believed that the evidence Bates gave may have been falsely used to implicate the Jesuits in the Gunpowder Plot and that he may have tried to purchase a pardon for himself by offering to pay the 100 pounds given him by Christopher Wright. As he was being dragged to the execution site (St. Paul's Churchyard) on January 30, 1606, Bates' wife managed to break through the guards and throw herself on her husband. It is thought that Bates took this opportunity to tell her where he had hidden the 100 pounds. On the scaffold, Bates was completely penitent, asking for forgiveness and claiming that it was loyalty to Catesby which had prevented him from obeying God, his country and the King. Given the weaknesses Bates displayed during his captivity, he has been credited with having faced death by displaying "much more courage than some expected of him."

Robert Catesby: Born in 1573, Robert Catesby (also known as "Robin") was the sole surviving son of Sir William Catesby of Lapworth and Anne Throckmorton of Coughton, his older brother William having died in infancy. Catesby's ancestry was an illustrious one, being a descendant of William Catesby, the powerful councillor at the Court of King Richard III. His mother's first counsin (Elizabeth) was the wife of Sir Walter Raleigh. Catesby studied at Gloucester Hall, Oxford in 1586 and, at the age of 19, married Catherine Leigh, daughter of Sir Thomas Leigh of Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, who was a staunch Protestant and related to the influential Spenser family. By Catherine, Catesby had two sons...William, who died in infancy, and Robert. Catherine herself died only a few years after their marriage. Labelled as "very wild" in his youth, Catesby was approximately six feet tall and considered a handsome, dashing man of noble character and impressive dignity. He was also known to be a courageous horseman and supreme swordfighter. Generous and affable, Catesby was well-liked by those who knew him. He won many acquaintances over to Catholicism and had great success in converting Protestants to his faith. Catesby's house in Lambeth was the first headquarters of the Gunpowder Plot and was used for the initial storage of munitions. Catesby died during the raid on Holbeche House in Staffordshire (the home of Stephen Littleton) on November 8, 1605, after escaping from London early on the morning of Tuesday, November 5th. Catesby and and Thomas Percy were both apparently shot with a single bullet. Catesby is reported to have died clutching a picture of the Virgin Mary. Although his body was buried at the location where he was killed, Catesby's remains were later exhumed and the head carried to Westminster in order that it might be put on display. Catesby is considered to be the originator of the Gunpowder Plot and was cousin to the Wintour brothers, other co-conspirators.

Sir Everard Digby: Everard Digby was born in either 1576 or 1578. He was the son of Everard Digby of Stoke Dry, Rutland, and Maria, daughter of Francis Neale of Keythorpe, Leicestershire. A staunch and wealthy Catholic convert, Digby possessed wide estates in Rutland. His role was to lead the Midlands Rebellion after the demise of Parliament. Digby was married to Mary Mulsho (the only daughter and heiress of the wealthy William Mulsho) and the father of two sons...Kenelm and John. At court, where he was a very popular character, Digby played the part of a Gentleman Pensioner. Known to be handsome, strong and well-built, he was the embodiment of all the qualities expected of a dashing young courtier of the time, being an excellent horseman, swordsman and musician, with a passion and ability for field sports. Digby entered the plot at the end of August in 1605, via an introduction by Robert Catesby while on a pilgrimage to Saint Winifred's Well, but only after he became convinced that the Jesuits had given their approval. Digby provided money and management skills to the conspirators, contributing the princely sum of 1500 pounds sterling to the cause, and was to play a major role in the Midland Uprising, although he did not have much of an interest in politics. He reunited with Catesby after the failure of the plot and assisted in the writing of the letter to Father Garnet which explained the purpose of the scheme and thereby broke the seal of the confessional. Digby fled Holbeche House after the gunpowder explosion but was arrested shortly thereafter near Dudly. While in the Tower, he was treated relatively leniently and is believed to have not been tortured...perhaps because he was such a latecomer to the plot and thus, not held to know much. He was tried separately from the other conspirators since he was the only one of them who pleaded guilty. He also requested, given his status, that he be beheaded...the request was denied. His execution which took place on January 30, 1606 was said to be a highly dramatic affair with Digby in good spirits and unrepentant while maintaining a courtly civility. Digby was hung only for a very short time and was undoubtedly alive when he went to the quartering block to be disemblowelled. The first of four to be executed that day (the other three being Robert Wintour, John Grant and Thomas Bates), Digby is said to have contradicted the executioner who, upon displaying Digby's heart to the watching crowd, stated: "This is the heart of a traitor." Digby is then reported to have replied: "Thou liest." He was one of the last conspirators to join the group, being enlisted for his wealth, ability and devotion. Digby is believed to have been 24 years old at the time of his death and was one of only two conspirators (the other being Ambrose Rookwood) to be lamented by the crowd...possibly due to his youth and earlier popularity.

Guy Fawkes: Although a relatively small cog in the wheel of the Gunpowder Plot, Guy Fawkes became its most notorious and memorable participant. As such, he merits his own separate entry, accessible from the Main Page.

John Grant: John Grant's date of birth is unknown. He was Lord of the Manor of Norbrook, a strategically-placed mansion located a few miles north of Stratford-Upon-Avon in Warwickshire and close to Lapworth, birthplace of Robert Catesby. The son of Thomas Grant of Norbrook and Alice Ruding, Grant came from a line of old, established families on both the paternal and maternal sides. He was married to Dorothy Wintour (sister or, more probably, half-sister of Robert and Thomas Wintour). Grant's personality has long been disputed by historians. He has been described as "melancholy" and "taciturn" and even "stupid" while, on the other hand, being depicted as an "intellectual" who "studied Latin and other foreign languages for pleasure." He may have originally been of the Protestant faith. Grant is generally accepted as having been a man who could show plenty of spirit when called upon to do so and possessed of undaunted courage. Norbrook formed part of the belt of Catholic houses in the Midlands region of England, the intended base for the rebellion which was to follow the blowing up of Parliament. It was also a noted refuge for priests. It would appear that Grant was sworn-in as a member of the inner circle of the plotters in February of 1605 when he and his brother-in-law, Robert Wintour, were summoned to a meeting with Robert Catesby and Thomas Percy at the Catherine Wheel Inn in Oxford. Both Grant and Wintour were apparently made to take an oath binding them to secrecy before Catesby would reveal the details of the plot. Grant's involvement seems to have been twofold. He and Robert Wintour were responsbile for amassing a stockpile of weapons and preparing stables of horses to be used during the anticipated rebellion. In addition, Grant was to be responsbile for the abduction of the young Princess Elizabeth from Coombe Abbey near Rugby in Warwickshire, in order to establish the Princess as the new monarch once her father...and presumably her brothers...had perished in the Parliament explosion. Grant was seriously injured at Holbeche House when some gunpowder which had been laid out in front of the fire to dry, caught an ember and exploded. Robert Catesby and Ambrose Rookwood were also injured, but it was Grant who sustained the most severe harm, his face being "much disfigured, and his eyes almost burnt out." During his trial, Grant said very little but is reported to have displayed great courage and self-assurance. He was executed on January 30, 1606 at St. Paul's Churchyard, along with Sir Everard Digby, Robert Wintour and Thomas Bates. Since the injuries he sustained in the accident at Holbeche House had left Grant virtually blinded, he was led to the scaffold which he was reported to have mounted with "great zeal." Grant, believed to have been 30 years old at the time of execution, expressed no sorrow for his part in the Gunpowder Plot, stating that he was convinced the project was far from sinful. He is said to have crossed himself before he fell.

Robert Keyes: Robert Keyes is believed to have been born around 1565. He was the son of a Protestant rector (Edward Keyes of Stavely in North Derbyshire), although his mother was a member of the devoutly Catholic Tyrwhitt family of Kettleby, Lincolnshire, also related to the Catholic Babthorpes of Osgodby. Thus, Keyes was kin to the Wright brothers and to the Wintour brothers, as well as being the cousin of Ambrose Rookwood. Keyes was employed by the Catholic Lord Mordaunt (possibly as a property manager) and his wife, Christiana, was governess to the Lord's children. A Jesuit convert, Keyes has been described as a tall man with a red beard. Keyes was the sixth conspirator to join the plot, doing so around October of 1604. Far from a wealthy man, his main function in the plot was to tend to Robert Catesby's home in Lambeth, which was used as a storage facility for gunpowder and other necessary supplies. His involvement may also have included assistance in digging the original mine. He believed riches would come to him after the installation of a Catholic state. Concerned about the fate of his employer, Keyes (accompanied by Francis Tresham) approached Catesby in the hope of helping Lord Mordaunt to avoid disaster. It was Keyes (on behalf of Thomas Percy) who presented Guy Fawkes with the watch for the timing of the fuse which would initiate the explosion. After discovery of the plot, Keyes was among the last to leave London, preceded by all except Rookwood (who stayed to gather information) and Francis Tresham (who seemed to be in no hurry to flee the city, an action which further fueled the suspicion that he had become a betrayer). There is some speculation that he was considering deserting his co-conspirators altogether, hoping to hide out at the estate of Lord Mordaunt. Keyes was captured in Warwickshire on November 9, 1605 and interrogated three days later. During his trial, he spoke little but is said to have displayed plenty of spirit. He claimed his motive had been to promote the common good and turn the country back toward the Catholic faith. He was executed in the Old Palace Yard at Westminster on January 31, 1606, together with Ambrose Rookwood, Thomas Wintour and Guy Fawkes (who was the last to mount the scaffold). Compared to Rookwood and Wintour, Keyes is described as a "desperate villain, using his speech, with small or no show of repentance" as he "went stoutly up the ladder." During his execution, the rope used to hang him snapped and he was quickly removed to the waiting quartering block. He is believed to have been 40 years old at the time of his death.

Thomas Percy: The exact birthdate of Thomas Percy in not know, except that he was born sometime prior to the year 1563. It is commonly accepted that he was the great-grandson of the Fourth Earl of Northumberland, his father being Edward Percy and his mother being Elizabeth Waterton. Much of Percy's early life remains a mystery. He entered Peterson College at Cambridge in July of 1579 and may have taken a sailing trip to the Azores the following year. He is described as being a rather wild youth who "relied much upon his sword and personal courage." Tall and well-built, Percy was said to have had a serious expression but an attractive manner, with "large and lively" eyes. Percy had a reputation as an enthusiastic if somewhat reckless swordsman. Together with John Wright, they would travel the country in order to seek out and challenge other skilled swordsmen. However, such duels seldom resulted in death...the prime purpose being to hone their skills. Nevertheless, as a matter of pride, both Percy and Wright would perform without any type of protective equipment. In 1591, Percy married Martha Wright (sister to John and Christopher Wright), although it is possible that Percy already had a wife in another part of the country. On May 13, 1604, Percy became one of the original five conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot, the others being Robert Catesby, Thomas Wintour, John Wright and Guy Fawkes. Percy had much to offer the conspiracy: zeal, dedication to the cause and valuable connections with Northumberland, not to mention free access to the Court. After the discovery of the plot, proclamations were issued for Percy's immediate apprehension...somewhat amusingly, reports claimed to have spotted him leaving London is almost every conveivable direction. Percy was killed at Holbeche House on November 8, 1605 by a bullet from the musket of one John Streete of Worcester (who later claimed compensation from the government for his markmanship). He died instantly. The same bullet also claimed the life of Catesby, who managed to crawl back inside the house before expiring.

Ambrose Rookwood: It is believed that Ambrose Rookwood was born in 1578. The eldest son of Robert Rookwood of Stanningfield in Suffolk, by his second wife, Dorothea. The staunchly Catholic Rookwood family was an old and influential once in the area, having held Stanningfield Manor since the time of King Edward I. Ambrose Rookwood, along with his two brothers and a sister, were smuggled to Flanders while young in order to pursue an education. The boys were among the first pupils at St. Omers, a seminary school founded by Robert Persons, which later became Stonyhurst. The Rookwood daughter, Dorothea, entered St. Ursula's at the Louvain and later became a nun. Rookwood, considered to be a genial and educated man...somewhat short in stature, but well-built and handsome...inherited the prosperous Stanningfield estates in 1600, complete with its stables of fine horses. Through marriage to Elizabeth Tyrwhitt of Lincolnshire, Rookwood was related to Robert Keyes, whose wife was also a member of that family. He was also related by marriage to the Wright brothers and the Wintour brothers. As a member of the Catholic elite, Rookwood employed Coldham Hall as a safe haven for priests. His chief part in the plot was to provide horses for those who would carry news of the Parliament explosion to Robert Catesby and other conspirators who were waiting in Dunchurch. He is also believed to have supplied Catesby with gunpowder. Rookwood carried a special sword whose hilt was engraved with the passion of Christ and according to some sources, this weapon had been specifically commissioned for the plot. The exact date of Rookwood's enlistment is disputed...some claim it to be during Eastertime of 1605, while others claim that he did not join until late September of that same year. Rookwood was something of a reluctant plotter, convinced only by Catesby's logic of the religious justification for the murder of innocents. Nevertheless, he paid the ultimate price for his involvement. Rookwood was one of the last of the conspirators to flee from London, remaining behind to gather as much information as he could. Despite his delayed start, however, his posting of fast mounts enable him to make an epic rode, quickly catching up to the other members of the group and continue with them onto Holbeche House. First slightly injured by the explosion of the gunpowder at Holbeche House, Rookwood later sustained further injury at the hands of one John Street during the raid. At trial, Rookwood defended the Catholic cause, but admitted that his offenses were so terrible, he could not expect any mercy. That having been said, he then asked for mercy because he has been neither "author nor actor" and desired not to leave a "blemish and blot unto all ages." Rookwood was executed on in Old Palace Yard at Wesminser on January 31, 1606, together with Thomas Wintour, Robert Keyes and Guy Fawkes. On the scaffold, he made a complete confession, offered up a prayer that the King convert to the Catholic faith and requested God to bless the monarch and the royal family in order that they might "live long to reign in peace and happiness." This speech earned him some degree of clemency...he was hanged until he reached the point of unconsciousness before being transported to the quartering block. Along with Sir Everard Digby, Rookwood was one of only two conspirators whose bravery brought tears to the eyes of the watching crowd. He is believed to have been 26 years old at the time of his death.

Francis Tresham: Francis Tresham is believed to have been born in 1567. He was the first son and oldest of eleven children born to Sir Thomas Tresham of Rushton, Northamptonshire, and Muriel Throckmorton, daughter of Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton, Warwickshire. He was descended from a long line of respected ancestors and was cousin to Robert Catesby, the historical originator of the Gunpowder Plot. At the time of the scheme, he had recently inherited extensive estates in Northamptonshire. In 1593, Tresham married Anne Tufton, with whom he had three children...Elizabeth and twins Thomas (who died in infancy) and Lucy (who later became a nun). Tresham, an unstable character, was infamous for his reckless spending of money and extravagant lifestyle...the former probably being the reason for his enlistment into the plot in October of 1605 by his counsin, Catesby. However, since Tresham's father had died intestate and in debt, he was soon unable to fund the project any further and was also very concerned for the salvation of his two brothers-in-law, Lord Mounteagle and Lord Stourton, which made Tresham the prime suspect as author of the warning letter. Many historians believe that he may indeed have played a major role in the betrayal of the plot, acting as a double agent, although he did manage to persuade Catesby and Thomas Wintour otherwise. November 2nd found Tresham attempting to convince the other conspirators that their plot had been discovered and that they should all take safety in flight. In fact, Tresham himself had received a licence that very day permitting him to travel abroad for two years. Tresham was in no hurry to leave London after the arrest of Guy Fawkes and it has been suggested that he may have taken the opportunity to have offered his services to the government. Nevertheless, Tresham was arrested on November 12th and promptly wrote a full confession. Later that month, he also implicated Henry Garnet. The only chief conspirator never to be indicted, it is believed that Tresham may have fallen victim to poison at the age of 37 while imprisoned in the Tower...the object being to silence him...or may have died as a result of strangury (an acute and painful inflammation of the urinary tract resulting in retention of fluid). There is speculation however, that he was allowed to escape incarceration and flee to Spain, where he adopted the alias of Matthew Brunninge. General concensus, due partly to the confessions of Guy Fawkes and Thomas Wintour, would indicate that Tresham was the last conspirator to be admitted into the group. Thus, bringing the number to thirteen.

Robert Wintour (a/k/a Winter): Born in 1565 or 1567, Robert Wintour was the oldest of the convicted Wintour brothers, the son of George Wintour of Huddington Court and Jane Ingleby, his father's first wife. Described as a wise and resolute man, Wintour was married to Gertrude Talbot, daughter of Sir John Talbot of Grafton in Worcestershire, with whom he had two children: a son named John and a daughter named Helena. In the proclamation for his capture, he was depicted as a man of "mean stature, rather low than otherwise, square made, somewhat stooping...his hair and beard brown, his beard not much and his hair short." Although older than his brother Thomas (another of the co-conspirators), it is noted that Wintour was apt to follow his younger sibling's lead and was enlisted into the plot because he was known as "a man of substance." Although he initially refused to join, Wintour eventually agreed to be sworn in (along with John Grant) at the Catherine Wheel Inn in Oxford some time during February of 1604. It has been noted however, that throughout the course of the campaign, he often displayed a lack of committment to the cause. Managing to escape the raid on Holbeche House, Wintour remained at large for two months thereafter, eventually being captured at Hagley Park on January 9, 1606, along with a minor conspirator by the name of Stephen Littleton. Wintour was executed on January 30, 1606 in St. Pauls' Churchyard, London, along with Sir Everard Digby, John Grant and Thomas Bates. On the scaffold, he was quiet and withdrawn, saying little. Although he appeared to be praying to himself, Wintour did not publicly ask mercy of either God or King for his offence.

Thomas Wintour (a/k/a Winter): Born in 1571, Wintour is known to be one of the original instigators of the Gunpowder Plot along with Robert Catesby, his cousin, and John Wright. He was the younger brother of Robert Wintour, another of the co-conspirators, both of whom were the product of a marriage between George Wintour and his first wife, Jane Ingleby. Wintour, described as clever, witty and resless, hailed from Huddington, east of Worcester. Not much is known about his private life although he may have been married to Elizabeth Catesby (sister to Robert Catesby) and the father of a son named George. Wintour proposed a mission to King Philip of Spain to request aid in order to relieve the plight of English Catholics, but the Spanish refused assistance. Therefore, Wintour undertook a search for Guy Fawkes, who was known to be skillful as a miner and had distinguished himself on the continent in the Spanish Army. It was Wintour who located Fawkes and brought him back to England. Upon discovery of the plot, Wintour fled to the Midlands in the company of Robert Catesby, where they met up with the rest of their party in Warwickshire. After a failed attempt to rally support, the group traveled for three days before reaching Holbeche House. Initially wounded in the courtyard of Holbeche, both Wintour and Ambrose Rookwood were taken away to London and imprisoned in the Tower, where they were questioned and tortured. After a brief trial in January of 1606, Wintour was hung, drawn and quartered on the last day of that month in the Old Palace Yard, Westminster, along with Rookwood, Robert Keyes and Guy Fawkes.

Christopher Wright: Born in 1570 in Welwick, Yorkshire, Christopher Wright (also known as "Kit") was the younger brother of John Wright, another of the co-conspirators. He was the third and youngest son of Robert Wright of Plowland and the second son of Robert's second wife, Ursula Rudston of Haydon. He was married to Margaret Ward, a relative of one Thomas Ward, who conveyed the news of the discovery of the infamous warning letter to the plotters. Tall and of strong build with a somewhat ruddy complexion, Wright was discreet, a man of few words and well able to keep a secret. He was recruited as a participant in the plot some time after Christmas of 1605 (at the same time as Robert Wintour and John Grant) in order to help his brother with the initial tunneling beneath Parliament and may have also been a schoolmate of Guy Fawkes at St. Peter's school in York. At one time, it was thought that he may have been the author of the warning letter. After discovery of the plot, Wright was dispatched by Thomas Wintour to warn Thomas Percy. He was among the number killed outright at Holbeche House, where he had fled in the company of Percy. He was shot in the courtyard along with his brother John, Ambrose Rookwood and Thomas Wintour. After death, Wright was stripped of his boots and fine silk stockings, as well as a number of souvenirs.

John Wright: Born on January 13, 1568 at Plowland Hall in Holderness (the County of Yorkshire), John Wright (also known as "Jack") was the son of Robert Wright and his second wife, Ursula Rudstone of Hayton. He was the older brother of Christopher ("Kit") Wright, another of the plotters, and related to the Wintour brothers, Robert Keyes and Ambrose Rookwood...all co-conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot. Believed to be one of the finest swordsmen of his day, the part Wright played in the attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament is somewhat unclear but he was, by all accounts, the third to be initiated into the Gunpowder Plot around May of 1604 and an active participant in all its events. Little is known of his early life, but it is believed that he and his brother Christopher may have been schoolmates of Guy Fawkes at the free school of St. Peters in York. Described as "strong, stout...of very good wit, though slow of speech," Wright was much admired for his courage and ability to maintain secrets. He is said to have been somewhat taciturn in manner but very loyal to his friends. It was Wright and Thomas Wintour who introduced Guy Fawkes to the Gunpowder plot. Caught at Holbeche House, he was shot in the courtyard along with with his brother Christopher, Thomas Wintour and Ambrose Rookwood. Wright is believed to have been mortally wounded in the assault, but "lingered for a day, if not longer." As with all those who met their doom at Holbeche House, Wright's body was later exhumed and the head removed for display at Westminster Palace.


The above-named thirteen are considered the key core conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot. However, listed below are other participants who are worthy of note.

Father Henry Garnet: Henry Garnet, later head of the Jesuit mission in England, was probably born in the second half of 1555, possibly at Heanor, a small market town in east Derbyshire. The son of Bryan Garnet (a classical scholar and secret Catholic) and Alice Jay (about whom little is known), Garnet was a scholar at Winchester College, one of the last schools in England to accept the change to Protestanism. In June of 1605, Garnet caught wind of the Gunpowder Plot from Robert Catesby, historical originator of the scheme and one of Garnet's parishioners, and attempted without success to dissaude Catesby from any type of violent action. In December of 1605, one month after discovery of the plot, Garnet wrote a letter to the Lords of the King's Privy Council in which he openly admitted being accessory by virtue of adminstering "the Most Holy Sacrament to six of the confederates." He requested a hearing and claimed that, although he had ministered the conspirators, they had never made him privy to the details of the plot. On January 15, 1606, a warrant was issued for Garnet's arrest, although a search for him was not put into motion until the 20th and he was not arrested until the 27th. Since the last of the surviving conspirators were executed on January 31st, by the time Garnet arrived at the Tower, there were none alive who could testify as to his innocence regarding the details of the plot...even if such evidence has been believed. The interrogation of Garnet lasted from February 13th until March 28th, at which time he was arraigned for trial at the Guildhall in London. The case against him was extremely weak and nothing could be unearthed which linked him in a criminal fashion to the Gunpowder Plot. He was threatened with torture (and may indeed have been put on the rack), deprived of sleep and probably also plied with drug-laced wine in order to elicit an admission of guilt. Garnet argued his own defense and, although convinced of his own condemnation, spoke with confidence. The verdict (which took less than 15 minutes to be decided by the jury) was a foregone conclusion. Garnet was found guilty of treason for not revealing the Gunpowder Plot, his sentence being that he should be hung, drawn and quartered. There was much speculation in the City of London that the execution might not actually take place. Garnet had won the respect of the populace through his composure during trial and most citizens sympathized with his predicament, claiming him to be a true martyr. Initially set for May Day, the execution was postponed until May 3rd...the Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross...the appointed location being the west end of St. Paul's Churchyard. Garent said his farewells in the Tower, where he had been a prisoner for almost three months, early that morning. Upon the scaffold, he continued to deny his guilt, expressing horror that it had been those of the Catholic faith who had planned such an enterprise. Once upon the ladder, he made the sign of the Cross, folded his arms across his chest and requested that all good Catholics pray for him. Many of the spectators prevented the hangman from cutting down the body of Garnet while he was still alive. Consequently, the 51-year-old Garnet was dead when he was finally carried to the quartering block and the crowd watched uncustomarily silent as his bowels were cast into the fire and his heart held up for viewing...many remarking that he had "died like a saint" and his soul without doubt had gone to heaven. The story of Father Henry Garnet, however, did not end with his death. Almost immediately, tales and legends began to spring up about him. Relics and reminders were cherished and passed secretly among his followers. A husk of straw found near the scaffold was later declared to bear the image of the martyred priest created from his sprinkled blood...a mysterious spring of oil emerged on the place where his scaffold had been built...and a strange new flowering grass with a blue "halo" which had never before been seen in England began to grow at Hindlip Hall, where Garnet had been captured. Perhaps the strangest tale surrounding Garnet was the preservation of his severed head which was placed atop a pole near London Bridge. Although such severed heads were usually parboiled (a process which made them turn black), the pallor of Garnet's skin remained remarkably lifelike. This miraculous event attracted such a throng of onlookers that, after six weeks, the government ordered the face to be turned upward so none would be able to observe it.

Humphrey Littleton: Humphrey Littleton, nicknamed "Red Humphrey," was the eighth son of Sir John Littleton of Frankley and the uncle of Stephen Littleton. His date of birth is unknown. He was a friend to (and possibly cousin to ) the Wintour brothers. Littleton was a member of the group of conspirators (which included Robert Wintour and John Grant) who gathered in the Midlands, but probably knew very little, if anything, about the scheme to blow up Parliament. After the discovery of the plot, Littleton was not among those initially sought after by the authorities because he had played no direct part in the event of Guy Fawkes' capture or the raid on Holbeche. However, from Hagley House, he did provide his nephew and Robert Wintour with a great deal of assistance during their two months in hiding, even refusing the authorities entry to the house and denying that he was harboring any fugitives. After the discovery of Stephen Littleton and Wintour (who were attempting to flee through the nearby woodlands), Humphrey Littleton tried to escape on horseback but was captured at Prestwood in Staffordshire. He was imprisoned first at Stafford and then at Worcester. Littleton attempted to bargain for his life by revealing the possible hiding place of the Jesuit Fathers Edward Oldcorne and Henry Garnet. This betrayal of the priests, however, did not prove to be enough to spare Littleton's life. He was arraigned at the Lent Assizes in Worcester and condemned to death for harboring his nephew and Wintour, facts which he acknowledged, but stating that he deserved death more for his treason to God in betraying the Jesuit Fathers. (He publicly asked Father Oldcorne for forgiveness during Oldcorne's trial.) Littleton was executed on April 7, 1906 at Red Hill, Worcester, together with Father Oldcorne.

Stephen Littleton: Stephen Littleton was born around 1575 and was the nephew of Humphrey Littleton. He was the eldest son of George Littleton and Margaret Smith of Warwickshire, and may have been related to the Wintour brothers. Littleton's principal place of residence was Holbeche House in Staffordshire...the location of the desperate last-ditch effort by many of the chief conspirators to resist the authorities. Littleton's main role in the plot was to raise a regiment to fight in Flanders, although it is doubtful that he was aware of the actual details involved in the blowing up of Parliament. Neither he nor Thomas Wintour were present at Holbeche at the time of the accidental gunpowder explosion at the house and, upon hearing the news, Littleton suggested they both flee for their lives, but Wintour refused and journeyed on to the house. Littleton then met up with Robert Wintour who had fled from Holbeche House after the gunpowder explosion. From that point, both Littleton and Robert Wintour lived as fugitives, eventually being captured in January of 1606 in the woods close to Hagley House, where they had been given sanctuary by Littleton's uncle Humphrey. Littleton was tried and condemned for providing assistance to the conspirators and joining them in open rebellion. He was executed at Stafford later that year (exact date unknown), acknowledging his crimes and declaring with great resolution and devotion that he was ready and willing to die.

John Wintour (a/k/a Winter): The much younger half-brother of Robert and Thomas Wintour (his mother, Elizabeth Bourne, being George Wintour's second wife), John Wintour was born around 1586. This Wintour brother was also convicted and executed for his part in the Gunpowder Plot, the exact details of his involvement being somewhat vague. He seems to have played no major part in the conspiracy and during the course of his confession stated that he became entangled only at the last minute and even then, more or less unknowingly. Although he did travel to Holbeche House, Wintour departed on the night of November 7th, prior to the arrival of the authorities. Initially intending to return to London, he eventually surrendered his sword and was taken prisoner by the Sheriff of Worcester's deputy. Wintour was detained at Huddington Court until November 9th, whereupon he was transported to the county gaol in Worcester Castle and later transferred to the Tower of London. Along with the eight survivors of the core group of thirteen who had survived, Wintour was tried at Westminster Hall, proclaiming that any offense he had committed was due to ignorance and not malice. Nevertheless, he was arraigned and condemned for conspiracy. After the executions of his half-brothers, Wintour remained in the Tower for a few more weeks. He was executed at Red Hill, Worcester on April 7, 1606, along with Father Edward Oldcorne and Humphrey Littleton. Wintour's drawn and quartered body was not put on public display but was released for burial in the chancel of the church at Huddington Court. There is no record that he ever married or fathered children and is believed to have been in his early twenties at the time of death.


Today, Holbeche House is a private nursing home. The last door through which many of the conspirators ever went is still in existence, as are the front room and facade of the house...much in the same condition as they were in 1605. The musket holes in the wall may still be seen, their location offering evidence that those inside the house were likely utilizing the upstairs windows, probably to gain the advantage of height over their attackers and thus, were almost certainly using firearms. Traces of the original wall which surrounded the property remain intact, although the building has undergone a great deal of construction. There is a tunnel in the dining room which, according to legend, once led to another location. There is no mention of this tunnel in any historical literature regarding the Gunpowder Plot, although it certainly was in existence at the time of the raid. There is speculation that this may have been the method employed by many of the lesser co-conspirators who had gathered at Holbreche to effectuate their escape...the conclusion being that the final defenders of Holbeche House must have made a conscious decision to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the cause.

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