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The Plotters are Caught

As the state opening of Parliament got nearer, some of the plotters became concerned about the number of Catholic lords who would be killed in the explosion.

On 26th October 1605, Lord Monteagle (a Member of Parliament) received an anonymous letter warning him to stay away from the state opening of Parliament if he cared for his life. He showed this letter to the king’s chief minister, Robert Cecil.

Monteagle letter

Robert Catesby soon learnt about this and suspected Francis Tresham (Lord Monteagle’s brother-in-law) of sending it. 

At about quarter-past midnight on 5th November, the cellars under Parliament were searched and Guy Fawkes was discovered guarding the gunpowder and some matches. He was immediately arrested.

Fawkes arrest2

News of his capture soon spread and many of the plotters quickly fled out of London. The king ordered: extra guards to be put on duty, all ports to be closed and an arrest warrant issued for Thomas Percy.

By 6th November, Guy Fawkes was moved to the Tower of London because he continued to withhold information. Here he was tortured by being chained in manacles and hung from the wall until he confessed being involved.

Tower of London 2006

On the night of the 7th November, the remaining plotters found shelter at Holbeche House (in Staffordshire). As the men were all tired from riding such a long distance and were soaking wet, they spread the damp gunpowder they had with them in front of the fire and gathered round to dry out. Unluckily, a stray spark from the fire caused the gunpowder to explode and several of them were injured - John Grant was even blinded. 

Holbeche House 357708 37f6fbc8

At about 11o’clock the following morning, the Sheriff of Worcester arrived with 200 of his men to investigate this explosion and managed to smoke the remaining conspirators out: Thomas Wintour was hit in the shoulder by a crossbow as he crossed the courtyard, Robert Catesby and Thomas Percy were both killed by the same shot and everybody else was arrested.

Catesby and percy slain

All the plotters were eventually sentenced to death, even though nearly all of them pleaded ‘not guilty’. They were hung on the gallows on 30th and 31st January 1606. Their bodies were then cut down and they had their insides taken out, before then being cut up, or quartered.

The execution of Guy Fawkes' (Guy Fawkes) by Claes (Nicolaes) Jansz Visscher