Born 1570AD York in the North of England in tumultuous times
Hanged, Drawn and Quartered in Westminster 1606AD
The sixteenth century was a time of turmoil, cruelty, persecution and suspicion.
A severe breakdown of communications between the Pope in Rome and Henry VIII in the 1530’s saw the king
replacing the Pope as head of the Church of England.
Anyone who remained loyal to the Pope was considered an outlaw and a traitor.
Henry VIII closed monastries, churches and shrines and ruthlessly suppressed catholics who rose against him.
In 1553, Mary became Queen. The new Queen restored Catholicism and turned the tide of persecution away
from the Catholics and against the Protestants. ‘Bloody Mary’ she came to be known in her reign of terror and
for causing the death of 400 souls.
In 1558, Queen Elizabeth went back to persecuting Catholics, passing laws designed to get rid of ‘recusants’
Catholics who refused to convert.
The young Guy Fawkes grew up in the midst of all of this turmoil.
He was born in York in 1570 York, a city in the North of England and baptised in St Michael le Belfry church on
April 13. His father Edward, a church lawyer and a prominent Protestant in the city, died when Guy was only
eight years old.
His mother remarried, to a Catholic, and they moved to the village of Scotton, near Knaresborough. Fawkes’
schooling continued at St Peter’s in York. His schoolmates included brothers John and Christopher (Kit) Wright.
He witnessed the deaths of so many Catholics in the city’s crowded prisons where so many were executed. One
in particular was Margaret Clitherow who was “Pressed to Death”.
Nothing improved when James VI of Scotland became King James I of England in 1603. So much was hoped
for however, he continued to persecute Catholics.
On his 21st birthday he enlisted in the Catholic Spanish army and spent the next ten years under the name of
‘Guido’ Fawkes fighting for Spain, becoming commander of a unit of soldiers and an expert in explosives. In
Madrid Fawkes met up again with Kit Wright and they joined a group of conspirators, who together plotted to
murder King James and replace him with a Catholic monarch.
The plotters hired a cellar under Parliament and smuggled in barrels of gunpowder. Fawkes’ role was to light
the fuse and then head to Flanders to raise forces who would join in the Catholic uprising in England.
After his arrest Guy was tortured. His partners, John and Kit Wright, died in November 1605 when they were
caught with other conspirators in Staffordshire.
In January 1606, Guy Fawkes himself was hung, drawn and quartered.
His remains were sent to the four corners of the Kingdom as a warning to other plotters.
Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...
The 'Gunpowder Plot' conspirators
Thomas Bates, Robert Wintour, Christopher (Kit) Wright, John Wright, Thomas Percy, Guy Fawkes,
Robert Catesby and Thomas Wintour