Gunpowder plot, 1605
Guy Fawkes was neither the leader nor the brains behind the audacious Catholic plot to blow up King James I as he opened Parliament in November 1605. However, his name will forever be associated with it.
Fawkes (1570-1606) was born a Protestant, but converted to Catholicism at the age of 16. He served as a soldier in mainland Europe before returning to England. He and his co-conspirators were captured on the night of 4/5 November, tortured and executed.
Guy Fawkes signed two confessions, on 8 and 9 November, in the second of which he named his fellow conspirators.
Confession of Guy Fawkes, 9 November 1605
I confess, that a practise in generall was first broken unto me, against his Maiestie for reliefe of the Catholic cause, and not invented or propounded by my selfe. And this was first propounded unto me about Easter Last was twelve moneth beyond the seas, in the Lowe Countreyes of the Archduke's obeisance, by Thomas Winter, who came thereupon with mee into England, and there we imparted our purpose to three other Gentlemen more, namely, Robert Catesby, Thomas Percy and John Wright, who all five consulting together of the means of how to execute the same, and taking a vow among our selves for secrecie, Catesby propounded to have it performed by Gunpowder, and by making a Myne under the upper House of Parlialnent: which place we have made a choice of the rather because Religion having been unjustly suppressed there, it was fittest that justice and punishment should be executed there.
The five that first entred into the worke were Thomas Percy, Thomas Catesby, Thomas Winter, John Wright and myselfe: and soone after wee tooke another unto us, Christopher Wright having Sworne him also, and taken the Sacrament for secrecie.
When we came to the very foundation of the Wall of the House, which was about three yards thicke, and found it a matter of great difficultie, we tooke unto us another Gentleman Robert Winter, in like manner with oath and sacrament as afore said.
It was about Christmas when we brought our myne unto the Wall, and about Candlemas we had wrought the wall halfe through: and whilst they were in working, I stood as Sentinell to descrie any man that came neere, whereof I gave them warning, and so they ceased until I gave notice againe to proceede.
All we seven lay in the House, and had Shot and Powder, being resolved to die in that place before we should yield or be taken. As they were working upin the wall they heard a rushing in the cellar of remooving of Coales, whereupon we feared that we had been discovered: and they sent me to go to the Cellar, who finding that the Coales were a-selling and that the Cellar was to bee let, viewing the commoditie thereof for our purpose, Percy went and hired the same for a yeerely rent.
We had before this provided and brought into the House twentie Barrels of Powder, which we removed into the Cellar, and covered the same with Billets and Faggots, which were provided for that purpose.
About Easter, the Parliament being prorogued till October next, we dispersed ourselves and I retired into the Low countreys by advice and direction of the rest, as well to aquaint Owen with the particulars of the Plot, as also lest by my longer stay I might have growen suspicious, and so have come in question.
In the meantime Percy having the key of the cellar, laide in more Powder and wood into it. I returned about the beginning of September next, and then receiving the key againe of Percy, we brought in more Powder and Billets to cover the same againe, and so I went for a time into the Countrey till the 30 of October.
It was a further resolve amongst us that the same day that this act should have been performed, some other of our Confederates should have surprised the person of Lady Elizabeth, the King's eldest daughter, who was kept in Warwickshire at Lo. Harrington's house, and presently have her proclaimed as Queen, having a proiect of a Proclamation ready for that purpose, wherein we made no mention of altering of Religion, nor would have avowed the deede to be ours, untill we should have had power enough to make our partie good and then we would have avowed both.
Concerning Duke Charles, the King's second sonne, we had sundry consultations how to seise on his Person. But because we found no means how to compasse it (The Duke being kept neere London , where we had not Forces y-nough) we resolved to serve our turn with the Lady Elizabeth.
Find out more about Fawkes' confession at the National Archives.
Fawkes named his co-conspirators (below), including Robert and Thomas Winter, John and Christopher Wright, Thomas Percy and Robert Catesby.