In the last part of our tale, we find Guy Fawkes, the brave Yorkshire man and experienced miner and sapper soldier, being questioned by the King, having been interrupted in his work of blowing up Parliament. The others are rushing north to the Midlands and preparing to capture members of the royal family or rescue Catholic friends and relatives from the explosion.
Cecil, in his writings about Fawkes under questioning, “(He was) no more dismayed, nay,scarce any more troubled, than if he were taken for a poor robbery on the highway.”
One must imagine the meeting of James the king with Fawkes and the remembrance of his own father’s assassination by gunpowder at Kirk o’ Field.
Christopher Wright was wandering about the Strand before five in the morning of November 5. Wright heard the commotion and that the matter was discovered. He went and found Thomas Winter at the Duck and Drake.
John Lepton Groom of the Privy Chamber was already on horseback riding in search of Percy. But he was riding north while Percy slept at the Red Lion.
Wright wakes Percy muttering “I am undone.” He climbs onto his horse. Percy and Wright ride out of London toward Dunchurch and the planned rising.
Meanwhile, Rookwood and Keyes were warned as they stayed at Mrs. Moores house near Temple Bar. The two rode on together.
Winter himself goes to the gates of Parliament and can not pass. He was informed that the plot has been discovered. Satisfied that all was known, he too rode into the country.
On the road north the conspirators meet up with one another. Catesby’s horse throws a shoe and needs to have a new one. Others are recognized through their servants.
They all met at Brickhill and rode on together. Cloakes were thrown into the hedge to improve speed. Those in the countryside already had formed the hunting party and were waiting for word.
On six o’clock on this foul November evening, the conspirators paused at the estate of Ashby St. Ledgers. A servant was sent to the house with the news for Robert Winter from the assembled group waiting outside in the rain.
Winter joins the party on the way to the Inn at Dunchurch on Dunsmore Heath. Digby and the hunting party waited following dinner with mulled ale when the six wet and bedraggled men arrived. Catesby tells Digby a lie: that James and Cecil had been killed and the revolt must go on. The Littletons will raise a thousand men.
Digby tells those in his party who had not yet learned of the true reason for the hunt. He was met by disgust from his own uncle, who stated that treason and murder of the king would set the Catholic cause back forever. Others also doubted and deserted the plot. The band of conspirators left Dunchurch with only about 50 horse, a straggling group. The servants, merrymaking just before in the kitchen, were shocked that their masters were perpetrating treason. As the servants rode on with their masters, doubt entered their minds and they slipped away from them into the darkness.
Meanwhile, in London, a mob was at the gates of the residence of the Spanish Ambassador. Throughout the night and into the next day, the citizens were kept under arms. There were concerned about the newly negotiated peace with Spain and the ambassador was given special protection.
A proclamation for the arrest of Thomas Percy from the king was posted. Lepton, the Privy Chamber man, continues his search but ends up in Scotland.
Fawkes was in the tower undergoing the first of six examinations. Not tortured yet but it was to come. He revealed nothing.
A priest, Father John Roberts, was found at Percy’s house. London was busy looking in several places for Percy but had not yet widening the search to locate other conspirators.
At midnight the conspirators; Digby, Catesby, Robert Winter Rookwood and the Wrights; were on their way to Warwick. New horses were needed. At Warwick Castle, a break in to steal horses was contemplated. Robert Winter expresses doubt. Catesby responds “What! Hast thou any hope, Robert? I assure thee there is none that knoweth of this action but shall perish.” They were in trouble enough. Why not add horse stealing to the list?
Winter remains but Rookwood, with a fresh horse, having been pre-positioned, rides to warn John Grant. Leaving servants and pack horses outside the city gates, Catesby and the others go to the stables of Mr. Benock adjoining the castle. Ten horses were taken before alarm was given. But two servants were captured and they were identified. From the servants Conyers and Fowes the Sheriff of Warwickshire learned that the horses were laden with trunks of arms and ammunition. Cecil is informed by Benock. The guardians of the Princess Elizabeth at Combe Abbey were alerted.
Catesby and the others catch up with Rookwood at Norbrook, the home of John Grant . Grant had opened the secret cache of arms he had stored for this day. The weapons were laid out on long tables in the hall.
Digby writes to Father Garnet to convey to him the news. Bates was sent with the letter to Garnet. Lady Digby received Bates after Mass in the secret chapel above the gate house at Coughton Court, a building riddled with secret priests rooms. The letter asked Garnet to take part and help with the rising in Wales. It was pointed out that “if he refused to accompany them but let them now perish out of any scruples and to free himself and his fellow Jesuits from blame, he too would soon perish, as would all Catholics.”
Tesimond was with Garnet. They both realized that, having the knowledge from the confessional, they were both undone. Garnet does not rush to their aid. He asks that they surrender. Tesimond however, left with Bates.
Lady Mary Digby learned for the first time that her husband’s was not an ordinary hunting party and broke down to be comforted by Garnet Lady Digby sends horses to aid her husband as the conspirators move toward Huddington. Digby’s own uncle is assisting with the rounding up of prisoners. The Sherif of Warwickshire estimates the size of the band to be about one hundred, with a bit of exaggeration. Robert Winter refuses Catesby’ s request to ask John Talbot for the promised thousand men.
Bates, Father Tesimond and Thomas Winter join the band. Tresham stayed in London. When the band reached Hindlip Manor, near Huddington, it found no help from Thomas Abingdon, owner of the manor. After staying the night there, Robert Winter’s priest, Father Nicholas Hart, hears the confession of the conspirators and distributed communion. This was Thursday the 7th of November.
The band rode off toward Wales and Lancashire following Tesimond They were a band of less than forty looking for reinforcements. The next stop was Hewell Grange, which they plundered for arms and ammunition. The country folk they met along the way in response to Catesby’s request replied, “We are for King James as well as for God and country.”
After a long journey mired in rainy November’s cold and mud and without recruits, the band ended up at Holbeach House. They had been trailed by Sheriff Walsh High Sheriff of Worcestershire. They arrived at ten that night.
Meanwhile, Fawkes was facing more questions. The King requests that “the gentler tortours are to be first used unto him and by degrees towards the uttermost and so God speede youre goode worke” of the interrogator, William Wade, Lieutenant of the Tower. Probably after being suspended by his thumbs, Fawkes began to crack but only just revealed his oath not to tell. More torture would come on the 7th. But still no information other than his true name was revealed.
At Holbeach House, the conspirators had two suicidal choices. They could run and be immediately captured, or fight it out. Sheriff Walsh had raised a significant posse of several hundred.
Grasping at straws, Thomas Winter tried other friends but none come. Preparations to defend the house get under way.
Damp gunpowder wet from the ride is spread out in the great hall to dry, but a little close to the fire. The powder was spread on a tray near another great bag of powder. A spark from the coal fire ignited the powder and a big bag of powder is not ignited but is blown through the roof to land in the courtyard. JohnGrant had his eyes burnt out and face disfigured. Catesby and Rookwood were injured.
Winter and Littleton were met with this news on their way back. Winter thought Catesby to be dead and went on to bury the body of his friend. Thomas Winter was surprised finds Catesby alive when he returns to the house. All are in prayer. “We mean here to die,” they said.
Christopher Wright tosses money out a window to Bates who is to take it to his wife. Robert Winter, shaken, has a wild dream of “steeples awry ,and within those churches strange and unknown faces.” He leaves with Littleton, these two being the last to be captured. John Winter left and was captured the next day. To seek help, Digby left, only to be surrounded and captured in a quarry nearby.
It was now the 8th of November a Friday. Around noon, the house was stormed. Thomas Winter was hit and lost the use of one arm. Next the elder Wright was shot dead, then the younger Wright and then Rookwood. Percy was shot together with Catesby with one bullet and Winter beaten and captured. Accounts vary but there was considerable chaos after the shoot out, with locals tearing off the clothing of the victims and arguments over horses. The event has evoked significant drama: “Mr Catesby being fallen onto the ground as they say, went upon his knees into the house and there got a picture off our Blessed Lady in his arms and so embracing and kissing the same he died.” Catesby also is said to dramatically have taken a gold cross from his neck and raised it up to swear that it all was for the honor of the cross.
But then the marksmen shot both men dead with the same bullet. There is also significant doubt that all who eventually died as a result of the incident died as a result of wounds received during the struggle itself.
At the same time as the shoot out Fawkes was being described as “most stubborn and perverse humor as dogged as if he were possessed.”. After exposure though to Wade’s less gentler toys, perhaps the rack. Fawkes cracked on November the 8th in the torture chamber deep under the tower. With the exception of Percy he still gave no names but revealed only the events of the plot.
On the 9th names were revealed including those of the Jesuits. Again on the 10th after more torture he finally provided all the information the state required. It was not until the 16th that he could be examined again due to injuries inflicted.
On November 16, the Sheriff of Staffordshire is ordered to exhume the bodies of Catesby, Percy, the two Wrights and the others, and that the bodies be bowelled and quartered. These pieces were to be set up in principal towns where they most led their lives. The heads of Percy and Catesby were to be sent up to London. At the cost of 23s 6d for ironwork, the heads of Catesby and Percy were exhibited on the ramparts of Parliament House.
Keyes was captured on November 9. Bates never carried out his mission and was captured on November 12. The plot provided the government with reason to arrest many. Anne Vaux remained free until the government had caught up with Father Garnet. Tresham was also not arrested until the 12th, although his connection with the plot was well known from the start and he had lived openly in London.
Winter and Lyttleton remained at large until Thursday, January 9, 1606, when, after hiding in the hay in a barn, they were discovered and captured after a chase.
On the 27th of January 1606, the first prisoners were hanged at Worcester jail, John Perckes and Thomas Burford. Others were to follow. None survived.
That is another story as is the dramatic smoking out of the priests from their “holes” at Hindlip house and the trial of those accused…….
The social and political circumstances of the time are certainly of considerable significance, but their importance for the weal or woe of...