The Golden Falcon

The Golden Falcon

Chapter X/5 - Plot

Ambrose Rookwood or Rokewood (b. 1577), a horse breeder and childhood friend of Catesby, owned Coldham Hall and Euston Hall in Suffolk where his family came from and rented Clopton near Stratford-upon-Avon.  As he held property in Suffolk, he may have been connected with the family of William Rokewood of Weston whose daughter Frances married William Winter of Barningham Winter, Norfolk in 1577.  Ambrose married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Robert Tyrwhitt II of Kettleby, Lincolnshire by whom he had 2 sons subsequently knighted by James I; his grandson Ambrose was hanged in 1696 for being in a plot to kidnap or kill William III.  Robert Keyes, also involved in the plot, was son of the rector of Staveley and through his mother, the grandson of Sir Robert Tyrhitt I of Kettleby; she was sister of Sir Rober Tyrrwhit II father of Elizabeth, wife of Ambrose Rokewood.  Robert Keyes married Christiana, widow of Thomas Groome and lived with her at Turvey, Bedfordshire, the residence of Lord Mordaunt where she was governess.


Francis Tresham (cousin of Catesby and the Winters and brother-in-law of Mounteagle and Stourton) was an extravagant young man, described as "unstayed and wild".  Born in 1568 and educated at Gloucester Hall, Oxford, he was eldest son of Sir Thomas Tresham (d. 1605) of Rushton, Northamptonshire by Muriel, daughter of Sir Robert Throckmorton and Elizabeth Hussey of Sleaford, Lincolnshire, widow of Walter Hungerford.  Francis was Catesby's contemporary at Oxford and married Anne Leigh of Stoneleigh.  One of his sisters Frances was wife of Lord Stourton.  When in London Tresham took lodgings an Clerkenwell and was 37 years old at the time of the Gunpowder Plot.


William Parker, Lord Mounteagle and Morley (1575-1622), a Catholic (until 1602) turned Protestant, was grandson of the recusant 9th Baron Morley who left England in 1569 under Spanish protection.  They were descendants of Robert de Morley who commanded the fleet that sailed from Kingsfleet in Orwell, Suffolk carrying the victorious troops which took part in the battle of Sluys in 1340 during the reign of Edward III.


Henry Parker, 8th baron Morley was a Catholic during the reign of Henry VIII.  William Parker's father, Henry Parker (d. 1618), 10th baron Morley, Elizabeth, daughter of of Edward Stanley, 1st baron Mounteagle (1460-1523) of Hornby, Lincolnshire (she brought the house at Hoxton in her dowry.  Edward Stanley (1460-1523) was created 1st Lord Monteagle after the battle of Flodden (1513) and held Hornby, Lincolnshire; the title passed to William Parker through his mother


William Parker owned property at Great Hallingbury near Bishops Stortford (his main residence); he also had a town house in the Strand and owned Montague Close, St. Mary Overy, Southwark near Hoxton and Hackney.  He was at Oxford with Francis Tresham and married his sister Elizabeth.  His sister Mary was wife of Thomas Habington of Hindlip, the historian of Worcestershire.  He was fined after Essex's rebellion during which he and Henry Wriothesley, earl of Southampton held the Tower.  He was a personal friend of father Henry Garnet and Robert Catesby, sanctioned the Jesuit missions to the King of Spain until the accession of James I and received the last rites on his deathbed.  Thomas Ward of Mulwith, brother of Marmaduke Ward and Thomas Winter were his secretaries.  Mounteagle received the warning letter at his house at Hoxton which he had not visited for a long time but suddenly decided to stay there precisely before a masked messenger arrived with this letter  His name was carefully erased from the plot papers, many of which were subsequently destroyed.


Fig. 102 - Browne, Neville, Brandon, Stanley & Parker: Sir Anthony Browne  = Lucy, d. of John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu > Anne Browne = Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk as his 2nd wife > Mary Brandon = Thomas Stanley, 1st lord Mounteagle > Edward Stanley, 2nd lord Mounteagle > Elizabeth Stanley = Henry Parker (d.1618), 8th baron Morley & 3rd lord Mounteagle >:

(a) Mary Parker = Thomas Habington, hisotrian, exiled to Worcestershire where he

     wrote a county history

(b) William Parker, 9th baron Morley & 4th lord Mounteagle = Elizabeth, d. of Sir

     Thomas Tresham, sister of Francis Tresham


Gamal > Adam de Stanley (living 1150) of Stanley, Staffordshire, brother of Liulf de Audley > Stanleys, Lords of Man (1405) and earls of Derby (1485) > Thomas Stanley, 1st earl of Derby = Eleanor, d. of William Nevillle, Lord Fauconberg, earl of Kent.


The first Stanley was an Aldithley or Audley who married the only daughter of Thomas Stanley and took his surname from the manor of Stanley in Wiltshire.  William was grandson of Adam de Aldithley who was at the Conquest.


Mounteagle was warned of the plot to blow up Parliament.  A tall man with his face covered, handed a dreadfully ill-spelt letter to Lord Mounteagle's page and this was given to Thomas Winter's friend, Thomas Ward, another of Lord Mounteagle's secretaries.  It read:


"My Lord out of the love I beare to some of youere friends, have a caer of your preservation.  Therefore I would advice yowe as yowe tender youer lyfe to devyse some excuse to shift off youer attendance to this parleament, for God and man hath concurred to punish the wickedness of this tyme and thinke not slightlye of this advertisement but retyre youer selfe into youer contri wher yowe maye expect the event in safti.  Yet I saye they shall receyve a terrible blow this parleament and yet they shall not sei who hurts them.  This cowncel is not to be condemned because it may do yowe good and can do yowe no harme for when the danger is passed, will give yowe the grace to make good use of it.  To whose holy protection I comend youe - to the right honourable the Lord Mow'teagle."


The writer was never discovered; one suspect was his sister Mary, wife of Thomas Habington.  Mounteagle took it straight to the authorities and was rewarded with a pension of £700 a year, his name was obliterated from the confessions of the plotters and pieces of paper pasted over the incriminating parts.


According to Fawke's declaration, signed on 16.11.1605, when discussing which of the Catholics lords should be warned, Catesby told them he had already informed Mounteagle and Mordaunt, also that their relative Stourton was not expected to come to Parliament.  They also wanted to warn the earl of Arundel (a Howard).


Stephen Lyttleton or Littleton of Holbeach and his cousin Humphrey were neighbours of the plotters.  Hagley, where Robert Winter and Stephen Littleton took refuge and were betrayed by a cook, was owned by Lyttleton.


Guy Fawkes was born in 1570, the son of William Fawkes (d. 1579), Registrar and Advocate of the Consistory Court of York.  Guy was baptised at St. Michael-le-Belfry and lived in Stonegate by York minister.  His mother Ellen Harrington, daughter of the lord mayor of York (who held office in 1536), married for a second time Dionys Bainbrigge, a Catholic of Scotton, Nidderdale.  Guy went to St. Peter's Royal School of Philip and Mary at Horsefair, Gilligate where the Wrights were his school friends.  The Jesuit Robert Middleton and Father Oswald Tesimond alias Greenway were also pupils there.


Fawkes was kinsman of one Spencer, steward of Lord Montague (1591-2) and became Montague's servant himself.  Anthony Browne, 2nd Viscount Montague had married Katherine, sister of Edward, Lord Vaux of Harrowden.


Fawkes inherited property at Clifton near York which he sold in 1592 when he enlisted in the English regiment fighting in the Netherlands under Sir William Stanley (who later defected to the Spanish and surrendered Deventer with Rowland Yorke).  Fawkes was at the siege of Calais and the battle of Nieuport, having become an ensign or second lieutenant who had experience in using of gunpowder and laying mines.  He became Stanley's steward and worked alongside Hugh Owen, the Jesuit agent..  He went on the Spanish mission and returned to Brussels, going to England in 1604 with Thomas Winter.  Catesby described Fawkes as "a confident gentleman."  When he was in London Guy lived in Butchers Row, St. Clement Dane's.


Fawkes was seized by Sir Thomas Knyvett and a guard of soldiers.  The Knyvetts were Howard relatives - Muriel Howard, sister of the 3rd duke of Norfolk married Thomas Knyvett and Thomas Howard married her grand-daughter Katherine Knyvett.  It was said that Sir Thomas Howard, 3rd son of the duke of Norfolk, was involved in discovering the plotter.


The Knyvetts and Howards were distantly connected to Sir Walter Raleigh through the family of Gorges - Sir Ferdinando Gorges was Raleigh’s kinsman and Edward Gorges married Anne Howard, daughter of John Howard 1st duke of Norfolk (1435-83) by his 1st wife Katherine Moleyns, daughter of William, Lord Moleyns.


Sir Ferdinando Gorge's great uncle Sir William Gorges, married Winifred Budockside, Sir Walter Raleigh's first cousin.  Raleigh and the Winters of Huddington were related through the Throckmortons, the Gorges to the Winters of Clapton-in-Gordano, the Winters of Lydney and Sir Thomas Smythe, a fervent coloniser, were related through Sir Andrew Judde, Mayor of London, Ferdinando Gorges to the Smythes.


Fig 148 -  Raleigh, Gorges, Sydenham, Winter.


Ralegh, sheriff of Devon Henry II, granted Nettlecombe estate, Somerset, Sir William Ralegh, Judge of the King's Bench, William Ralegh, Bishop of Winchester in 13c, owned Withycombe Ralegh, Colaton Ralegh, Challacombe Ralegh, Combe Ralegh in West Country.  Sir Walter Ralegh's great grandfather = d. of Sir Richard Edgcumbe > grandfather = d. of Sir Thomas Grenville, sold Small Ridge estate to John Gilbert > Walter Ralegh of Fardel, Cornwood = (1) d. of John Drake of Exmouth >: George > illegitimate issue.  Walter Ralegh of Fardel  = (2) d. of Darrell, a London merchant > daughter = Hugh Snedall.  Walter Ralegh of Fardel = (3) Elizabeth, d. of Sir Philip Champernowne of Modbury near Plymouth, widow of Otho Gilbert of Compton Castle near Torquay >:

(a) Sir Carew Ralegh = widow of Sir John Thynne.

(b) Sir Walter Ralegh = Elizabeth, d. of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton.


John Drake of Crowndale, near Tavistock, Devon temp Henry VII = Margery > Edmund Drake > 12 sons.  Francis = 4.7.1569 (1) Mary Newman = (2) Elizabeth, d. of Sir George Sydenham.


John Sydenham (d.1460) of Brympton d'Eversay, Somerset = Joan, co-heiress of John Stourton of Preston, Somerset > Alexander Sydenham = Agnes, widow of Sir William Popham >:

1. John Sydenham (b.1468 d.1542) of Combe Sydenham = (1) Elizabeth, d. of Sir

    Humphrey Audley = (2) Joan, d. of Sir John Arundell of Lanherne > Sir John

    Sydenham (d.1557), knighted 1549 = Ursula Bridges, sister of John Bridges, Lord

    Chandos of Suddeley > Sir George Sydenham, knighted in 1548 = Elizabeth, d. of

    Christopher Hales > Elizabeth Sydenham = 1585 (1) Sir Francis Drake = (2) Sir

    William Courtney of Powderham, Devon.

2. Sylvester Sydenham (d. 1525) of North Petherton, Somerset = Joan, heiress of Sir

    Ralph Goch > Eleanor Sydenham = Edmund Winter of Trebarwith, Cornwall

    (d.1550) > Jane Winter = Sir George Rogers of Cannington > Mary Rogers =

    George Winter of Dyrham > William Winter of Clapton-in-Gordano = Mary Arthur >

    Grace Winter = Edward Gorges of Wraxall, Somerset whose heir male was

    Ferdinando Gorges.


Sir George Throckmorton = Catherine Vaux of Harrowden >:

A. Sir Nicholas Throckmorton = Anne, d. Sir Nicholas Carew of Beddington,

    Surrey > Elizabeth Throckmorton = Walter Raleigh.

B. Robert Throckmorton = Elizabeth Hussey of Sleaford, Lincs >:

   (a) Muriel Throckmorton = Sir Thomas Tresham > Francis Tresham = Anne Leigh

        of Stoneleigh.

   (b) Anne Throckmorton = Sir William Catesby > Robert Catesby.

C. Catherine Throckmorton = Robert Winter of Huddington > George Winter =

    (1) Jane Ingleby = (2) Elizabeth Bourne > Robert, Thomas & John Winter,

          the Gunpowder Plotters.


Gorges, Berkeley, Lygon, Mowbray, fitzAlan: Edward I = Eleanor of Castile > Joan Plantagenet of Acre = Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester > Eleanor de Clare = Hugh le Despecncer, 2nd Lord Despencer > Elizabeth le Despencer = Maurice Berkeley, 4th Lord Berkeley > James de Berkeley, knt = Elizabeth Bluet, d. & h. of Hugh Bluett, Knt of Raglan, Monmouth > James de Berkeley, Lord Berkeley = Isabel de Mowbray, widow of Henry Ferrars, Knt and d. & c.h. of Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk (desc. Edward I) by Elizabeth (desc. Edward I), d. of Richard fitzAlan, earl of Arundel & Surrey (desc. Adeliza of Louvain & Charlemagne) > Maurice Berkeley Lord Berkeley = Isabel Mead > Anne Berkeley = William Dennes, Knt of Dyrham > Eleanor Dennis = William Lygon of Redgrove & Madresfield, Worcs., Sheriff of Worcestershire, son & heir of Robert Lygon, knt. by Margaret, d. & h. of William Greville, knt, of Arle Court & Cheltenham, Judge of the Common Pleas > Cecily Lygon of Madresfield = Edward Gorges of Wraxall, Somt > Ferdinando Gorges, Lord Proprietor of Maine, USA (d. 1647) = (1) Ann Bell = (2) Mary Fulford Achim = (3) Elizabeth Gorges = (4) Elizabeth Gorges Smith.


In his confession Fawkes said he had been recruited by Thomas Winter during Easter 1604 and had not planned the Plot himself.  He came to England where he met Robert Catesby, Thomas Percy and John Wright and took a vow of secrecy.


Catesby suggested using gunpowder to mine Parliament and they rented an adjoining house Vyniard House in the Old Palace.  At first Thomas Percy, Robert Catesby, Thomas Winter, John Wright and Fawkes started work digging a tunnel. from a house next to Parliament Christopher Wright joined them later but the wall was 3 yards thick so they recruited Robert Winter to help them.  By Christmas they reached half through the wall and by Candlemas (Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary held on 2nd February) halfway through it.  The work was suspended until they heard the results of Winter's meeting with de Velasco.  They heard a noise in a coal cellar belonging to the Keeper of the Old Palace and Fawkes on discovering it was to be let, rented it. for a year and Winter helped Fawkes with attempting to mine Parliament House.  They brought 20 barrels of gunpowder and covered it all with wood.


At Easter Parliament was postponed until October so Fawkes went back to the Netherlands to let Hugh Owen know about the Plot while Percy brought more gunpowder and wood.  Fawkes returned in September and more gunpowder and wood were taken into the cellar but the work was stopped when on 27.10.1605 Winter heard about the letter Mounteagle had been sent.


Gunpowder was used in the Netherlands war in which Thomas Winter and Guy Fawkes had fought.  The gunpowder monopoly was granted in 1558 to Richard Hills, George and John Evelyn.  In 1590 George Evelyn, grandfather of the diarist John Evelyn, had gunpowder mills at Leigh Place, Godstone and Long Ditton, both in Surrey.  This monopoly did not apply to London and there were powder mills at Rotherhithe (1555), Waltham Abbey (1561) and Faversham.


The Evelyns' seat was at Wootton Surrey and John the diarist married Mary, only daughter and sole heiress of Richard Browne of Sayes Court, Deptford.  Browne died on 12.2.1682-3 and his memorial at St. Nicholas, Deptford says he was Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to Charles I, Clerk of the Privy Council to both Charles I and Charles II, ambassador to the court of France during the reigns of Louis XIII and Louis XIV from the 1641 to 1660.  Another memorial in the same church says Richard Browne of Sayes Court was grandson of Joan and Sir Richard Browne (d. May 1604, aged 65 year), younger son of an ancient family of Hitchin, Suffolk and Horsley, Essex, who being a student in the Temple, was taken into the Crown service by Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester, Governor of the United Netherlands and make Clerk of the Green Cloth by Elizabeth I which office he held under James I.


Fawkes retired to the countryside for a month on the 30th October when they decided to kidnap Princess Elizabeth, the king's eldest daughter, who was staying at Lord Harrington's house, Coombe Abbey, near Coventry, Warwickshire which reverted to him when John Dudley, earl of Warwick and duke of Northumberland was executed for placing Lady Jane Grey on the throne.


The Plotters planned to proclaim Elizabeth Stuart queen after James I, Prince Henry and Parliament had been blown up.  They also planned to kidnap Princes Charles (later Charles I).  However Harrington, her tutor and guardian (who died at Wörms), had prior warning and sent her to Coventry to the house of Mr Hopkins of Earl Street.


Fawkes named the other conspirators as Everard Digby, knight, Ambrose Rookwood, Francis Tresham, John Grant and Robert Keyes.


Thomas Winter (1572-1606) was described as being of "mean stature but strong and comely and very valiant, of a finely manly presence, of such a wit and so fine a carriage, of so pleasing conversation, desired much of the better sort, about 35 years of old or somewhat more.  His means were not great but he lived in good sort and with the best and very devout and zealous in his faith and careful to come often to the sacraments".  He was baptised a Protestant but with the others was supposed to have been converted Catholicism by Father John Gerard.  He was admitted to the Middle Temple on 10.11.1590 and the entry reads "Thomas Winter, second son of George Winter of Huddington, Worcs. Esq., and late of the New Inn, gent".


Having released all rights under his father's Will, he was often short of cash and wrote a letter dated 1604-5 to John Grant. "I am now going to Bath with my Lord Mounteagle and from thence to Lankeshire, my fortunes are so poor, that they will not leave me mine owne man, if they did, Jack, then thou shouldst have more of my company."


He was a captain, an expert swordsman, an accomplished linguist speaking Latin, Italian, Spanish and French and acquainted with foreign diplomats.  He fought for the States General against the Spaniards in the Netherlands for several years on the side of the Dutch States General, against the Turks, in France and Spain but left Flanders to become secretary or agent to William Parker, 4th Lord Mounteagle.  When in London Thomas Winter stayed at the sign of the "Duck and Drake" in St Clement's parish in the Strand and once at Puddle Wharf near the Mermaid theatre.


Just before Christmas 1600, he went to Rome for the jubilee and a Mr Winter from Worcestershire is entered in the "Pilgrims Book" of the English College as having lodged there for 13 days from 24.2.1601.


In January 1602 he was sent by Catesby and Mounteagle to Spain, accompanied by Father Oswald Greenway or Tesimond, to propose an invasion of England to Philip III the following spring and to pension off a number of Catholics in England who, because of the death of the earl of Essex, had lost their wealth and would willingly place themselves at his disposal if helped in this way.  Winter's full statement was never made public and has been lost.


Winter, Catesby and Tresham discussed the mission with Father Henry Garnett at White Webbs, where the Jesuits often met, situated 10 miles north of London.  Garnett, who wrote to Father Joseph Cresswell about it, said he believed the aim was only to get money for distressed Catholics.  Garnett spent some months at the Spanish court but the negotiations were taken over by Cresswell, who said he represented English Catholics in Spain.  In the winter of 1602-3 Cresswell urged the Spanish king to immediately intervene to prevent James succeeding to the English throne when Elizabeth died.


Garnet told Father Parsons on 4.10.1605 "And yet I am assured notwithstanding that the best sort of Catholics will bear all their losses with patience.  But how these tyranicall proceedings of such base officers may drive particular men to desperate attempts, that I can not answer for".  Sir Everard Digby wrote to Robert Cecil, Lord Salisbury "If you think fit to deal severely with the Catholics, within a brief space there will be massacres, rebellions and desperate attempts against the King and State."


Since July 1600 the Anglo-Spanish faction proposed adopting the Infanta and her husband, Archduke Albert of the Netherlands, as Elizabeth's successors.  On 2.3.1603, after a delay of 3 months, the count of Olivares advised this was impracticable and suggested the English find another suitable heir whom Spain could support on certain conditions.


Winter returned to England before the Spaniards made this suggestion.  On Fawkes' evidence, Edward Coke said Winter had come back "laden with hopes" because of the Spanish King's promise to send an army to Milford Haven and contribute 100,000 crowns for the enterprise.


Garnett showed Winter, Catesby, Percy and Father Oldcorne two letters from Rome instructing Catholics to oppose the Protestant succession.  This gave Catesby the idea of blowing up Parliament and King James.

There were several others involved in the plot who never surfaced.  Government spies reported during Lent 1605:


"There came together at the Horne Tavern in Carter Lane, Sir William Willoughby, Sir Everard Bayneham, Sir John Rose, Robert Catesby, Captain Winter, the master of which house dwelled now at the Pole Hedd in Powles church.  These hadde sundrys times both before and since their meetings at the house called by the name of Catesby after Mr Terrets since Roockwood's house in Lambeth."


At William Patrick's house at the Strand at which were present Robert Catesby, Lord Mordaunt, Sir Jocelyn Percy, knight, Thomas Winter, John Ashfield, Benjamin Johnson with one other unknown.


At the Mitre Inn at Bread Street, Robert Catesby met a numerous company including an Admiral and Richard Hakluyt."


Richard Hakluyt and William Monson were both reported to have dined with the plotters, so had Ben Jonson.  Richard Hakluyt who wrote the "Voyages" was vicar of Wetheringsett, Suffolk; his cousin also Richard Hakluyt of Hereford helped him write it.


On All Saints Day 1603 Catesby sent a message to Thomas Winter (who was staying with his brother Robert at Huddington) to attend a conference but he did not go saying he was ill.  In January 1604 when he responded to Catesby's second urgent call, Wright dissuaded Winter from going abroad - he was sick and low in spirits and had wanted to leave England to live in Spain.


John Wright of Twigmoor Hall, Manton, Lincolnshire was with Catesby.  Winter opposed the plan because of the violence and wanted to try "the quiet way".  He said would join them but criticised their scheme and agreed that if the scheme succeeded Catholics' circumstances would improve but if it failed, both friends and enemies would condemn them utterly.


He was sent to Flanders to meet Juan de Velasco, Constable of Castile, who had arrived in Brussels in mid-January to negotiate peace with England to implore him to stipulate in the proposed treaty that Catholics should be well-treated.  This was also brought up during the negotiations for the marriage of Charles (later Charles I) and the Infanta of Spain which fell through because of the behaviour of the Protestant George Viilliers, duke of Buckingham, which shocked the Spanish court and Charles eventually married the French princess Henrietta Maria.


Winter was to find out what the Constable could do, if anything, and to bring Fawkes to England.  He visited Velasco with Hugh Owen, the Jesuit of Plas Du, who spoke Spanish fluently and had much influence with the Spaniards in the Netherlands.  Owen was supposed to have had a hand in all the Catholic Plots beginning with the Ridolfi Plot of 1571 after which he went into exile.  After 1605 Robert Cecil had Owen expelled from the Netherlands.  The Spanish would not surrender him and he died in Rome.  He was said to have been William Stanley's ADC.


Sir William Stanley was head of an ancient family of which the earls of Derby were a cadet branch.  He was born in 1549 and was a devout Catholic.  From 1567-1570 he fought under Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba in the Spanish Netherlands and then volunteered to go to Ireland during Elizabeth I's reign.  He left to follow Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester to the Netherlands again and raised 1,300 men in Ireland.  He fought at Zutphen on 22.9.1586 together with Philip Sidney and with his Irish troops, was given custody of Deventer by Leicester but on. 29.1.1587 he and Roland Yorke were accused of handing the town to the Spaniards.


Stanley fled to Spain and advised Philip II to invade Ireland first and from there to land at Milford Haven but the king would not listen to him.  Stanley came back to the Netherlands to serve under Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma and after the defeat of the Armada returned to Spain.  From 1590-1600 he served sporadically in the Netherlands on the Spanish side, visiting Rome and Madrid.  On the accession of James I, he tried to obtain a pardon but failed as a result of the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot.  He spent the rest of his life wandering about Europe and died in 1630 aged 80.  He had two sons and three daughters.  His son William Stanley had his lands at Hootton Cheshire restored to him and was father of Sir William Stanley of Hootton, baronet.


Owen introduced Thomas Winter to Sir William Stanley (1548-1630) who in turn introduced him to Guy Fawkes who came back with Winter to England about Easter.


1604 - Thomas Wintour to fetch Fawkes from Flanders [Index Library Administrations, Vol III, PCC]


Thomas Winter had wanted Fawkes "to add one more to our number as a fit man for counsel and execution of whatsoever we should resolve" as he had "heard good commendation of the soldier Fawkes".  Winter met Fawkes (who had arrived from Brussels) in Ostend.  They lodged in Dunkirk, landing in Greenwich in 1604 and then went on to "Moorecroft" at Uxbridge.


Winter, Catesby, Fawkes, Percy and took an oath of secrecy and Catesby told them about the details of the plot.  Robert Winter and John Grant of Snitterfield (married to the Winters' sister Dorothy) where told about the plot by Thomas at Oxford in early 1605 when the conspirators needed funds.


Robert Winter (b. 1565) owned hop yards, salt pits and brine springs at Droitwich.  He married Gertrude, daughter of John Talbot of Grafton, heir of the earl of Shrewsbury and a rich landowner with a large property in Shropshire near Albrighton.  Robert's portrait, at Woollas Hall near Bredon (now at Huddington Court) shows he had refined features, a broad forehead and large eyes; he looked more like a scholarly country gentleman than a plotter.  He was admitted to the Middle Temple on 10.11.1590 and the entry reads "Robert Winter, son and heir of George Winter of Huddington, Worcs, Esq., and late of the New Inn, gent."


Thomas Winter went immediately to "White Webbs", a Jesuit meeting place.  It was a lonely house on the borders of Enfield Chase between Middlesex and Essex, belonging to Anne Vaux, daughter of Lord Vaux of Harrowden and Lord Mounteagle's sister who was imprisoned but later set free.  The house was rented by Catesby, where his fellow conspirators met but who failed to persuade Catesby to flee.


Winter returned to London on the 31st and on 4th November Catesby went to the appointed rendezvous at a race meeting at Dunchurch near Rugby with other Catholics, attended by a hundred horseman who hunted on Dunsmore Heath and went to the Lion Inn, Dunchurch for supper.  Amongst them was Henry Morgan, a recusant described as being of Norbrook, Warwickshire (Grant's residence).


Catesby was followed by Winter on the 5th who overtook him at Huddington on the 6th.  On the 7th they went to Stephen Lytteleton's house at Holbeach where they had an accident when a spark set off some wet gunpowder which they trying to dry out.  On 4.11.1605 (the night before) Robert Winter dreamt "of seeing a succession of faces, all distorted and blackened, steeples and churches awry and within those, churches strange and unknown faces."  This must have made a great impression on him because he escaped with Stephen Lyttleton and hid for two months in barns and the houses of poor people in Worcestershire.


On the 8th Thomas and Catesby resisted the sheriff's officers who had followed them in hot pursuit.  The Sheriff ordered the house where he was hiding to be set on fire.  Winter rushed out and was wounded by crossbow bolt through his right arm and Percy was killed by a crossbow shot by John Street.  Ironically the first sappers or demolition experts were miners from the Forest of Dean where crossbow bolts were manufactured and where the Winters held the Hall of Newent in the reign of Edward III.  Thomas stated in this confession "One came behind me and caught hold of both mine arms".  He was captured and taken to the Tower where he was imprisoned.


Catesby was mortally wounded crying "Stand by me Tom and we will die together."  A letter from Thomas Lawley to Salisbury dated 14.11.160-5 read:


"Upon the 8th day of this present month, I with all the small powder I was able upon a sudden to make, did attend Mr Sheriff of Worcestershire into a place called Holbeach and there did my best endeavour for the suppressing and apprehending of the traitors there assembled, one of my servants being the first man that entered upon them and took Thomas Winter alive and brought him unto me, whom I delivered to the said Sheriff and thereupon hasted to revive Catesby, Percy and the two Wrights, who lay deadly wounded on the ground, thinking by the recovery of them to have done unto his Majesty better service than by suffering them to die.  But such was the extreme disorder of the baser sort that while I with my men took up one of the languishing traitors, the rude people stripped the rest naked; their wounds being many and grievous and no surgeon at hand, they became incurable and so died."


A proclamation had been issued on 18.11.1650 for Robert Winter's capture in which he was described "a man of meane stature, rather low than other wise, square made, somewhat stooping, neere fortie yeares of age, his hair and beard browne, his beard not much and his hair short."


A half-burnt letter from Robert Winter during his escape to his father-in-law Talbot's house at Grafton reads:


"To Mr Smallpiece in Mr Talbot's house.  Good cousin I fear it will not seem strange to you --- a good number of resolved Catholics so performed matters of such -- will use their utmost strength to hand all these ---. use your best endeavour to stir up my father Talbot --- which I would much more honourably than to be hanged after ---- Cousin, pray for me as I pray for you and send me all such friends - haste - I commend you from Huddington this 6th of November."


Robert Winter told Humphrey Lyttleton's steward when was hiding in a barn "Ah, Jack, little thinkest thy mistress what guests are not in her house that in so long a space did never so much as look upon a fire."


Robert Winter, Stephen and Humphrey Lyttleton were finally taken at Humphrey's house at Hagley, after being betrayed by his cook.  Robert was sent to the Tower and examined on 17.1.1606 and on 21.1.1606 wrote a long letter to the Commissioners relating his share in the plot.


On 21.11.1605 Sir William Waad, Lieutenant of the Tower wrote to Robert Cecil, earl of Salisbury that "Thomas Winter doth find his hand so strong as after dinner he will settle himself to write that he hath verbally declared to your lordship, adding what he shall remember."  Winter's confession (Hatfield Papers, BM Add MSS 6178) seems to have been originally written and dated 23.11.1605, probably exhibited before the Commissioners and confirmed by Winter 2 days later when it was endorsed by the Attorney General "delivered by Thomas Winter all written by his own hand 25.11.1605."

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