The Plot, Part 1
Midi Music Thomas Campion, 1567-1620, "Suite in Dmin: Sarabande," 5k
We must blow up the King and his Parliament...
Radicals All!

Perhaps the first mention of his intentions came when Robert  Catesby met with  Thomas Percy, (age 44) a prominent member of the Catholic sub-culture with powers  at court. Enraged by James' betrayal of Catholics in around June 1603 at Ashby St. Ledgers Percy : "broke his mind to Mr. Catesby, saying he would kill the king. But Mr. Catesby having (as it seemeth) other greater projects in his head said, "No".,Tom, thou shalt not adventure to small purpose, but if thou wilt be a traitour, thou shalt be to some great advantage." (Garnet's Declaration of 9 (8) March 1606, Hat. MSS., vol. 18 p. 73). At this early date Catesby made his first direct statement of is intententions: He told Percy: 
"I am thinking of a most sure way (ie. to kill the king) and I swill soon let thee know what it is"
Thomas Winter and John Wright were already in technical violation of the law having traveled more than five miles from their homes without permission....  Thomas had been suffering at Huddington from an attack of kidney stone and did not want to come at first but Catesby his cousin convinced him to take part writing: "in any wise to come".
It was November as it would be when it would all end. 

Blowing up the king and Parliament was first discussed. It is significant that not only was the king to be killed but that to change the Parliament, the institution must now be attacked. Thomas Winter was concerned about logistics and about the way the plot would harm the reputation and safety of Catholics if it failed. Catesby obtained his support by saying: " the nature of the disease required so sharp a remedy".   Thomas Winter  joined- saying: "In that place(parliament) have they done us all the mischief and perchance God hath designed that place for their punishment". Catesby reassured him that the plan would only be carried out when all peaceful means had failed. Catesby proposed that Winter undertake a mission to the King Philip of Spain via the Constable of Castile who was in Belgium,  in  (Don Juan de Velasco) the process of negotiating peace with England from a position of considerable weakness.Thomas Winter agreed to this. He had been to the Court of Spain before in 1601. (at that time Catesby had asked him to determine the level of Spanish support for the Infanta's claim for English succession and to find out who English Catholics would be treated thereafter.) He was to convince the negotiators to include as part of the treaty a clause which would force James to revoke the penal laws and restore Catholic citizenship.  Winter also was to locate Guy Fawkes, (age 34) known for his skills as a miner. (Catesby had probably learned of Fawkes via Fawke's schoolmate at York Grammar School, Christopher Wright

With the help of Hugh Owen a prominent organizer of Catholics in exile Winter met the Constable of Castile at Bergen.  English spies learned of the mission and the Spanish refused to help. They needed the peace agreement as war with England had depleted their resources. Winter's visit, however, would be proof positive of a political link between the plotters an the antagonistic foreign power. The line between religion and the politics of international affairs had been crossed. However well intended this  peaceful  move would not  be so well received by the English Government. It was treason when viewed from the perspective of English nationalism.  After his discouraging meeting with the Constable Winter asked Owen for help in locating Guy Fawkes. The next stop was a meeting with Sir William Stanley, leader of English Catholics in exile.  Stanley expressed little hope that the Spaniards would  put the treaty at risk on behalf of English Catholics. 

Winter let both Stanley and Owen know that there was a group of Catholics who were determined to fight before they gave in to the rule of English law.  Stanley also provided a good reference for Guy Fawkes. A meeting was arranged and Winter was impressed by Fawkes. Fawkes was told only that "certain friends"  would like to meet with him in England. It took two days for Fawkes to decide-he would return to England with Winter and visit his mother while he was at it (his mother needed money).  Winter then told him more of the plot.  Guy was interested.  On about April 25 1604 they arrived in England via ship from Dunkirk. 

While Winter was still away Catesby made some progress toward locating a house which was close to the Parliament.  He found one Near Parliament stairs or Q ueens Bridge.  The house was rented by Henry Ferrers of Baddesley Clinton, Warwickshire.  the owner of the house was keeper of theHis Majesty's  wardrobe of the Beds- John Whinniard. The house was either south -west or south-east of the House of Lords but in any case it was directly adjacent to it. From the house  a tunnel could be constructed under the House of Lords where powder could be planted.  The only trouble was that the place was rented on a long lease. 

There would be time following the opening of parliament James's first on the 19 of March  1604.   Catesby would have until the opening of the next parliament which would not be until some time in the future-the next time Commons, King and Lords would all be in the building together. James however, could cut this time short by dissolving Parliament and calling a new one. 

In April  Winter brought Fawkes to England as far as Greenwich by ship then via rowboat to Catesby's lodging.   Wright said of the meeting: "I told him good words, but I  feared the deeds would not answer"  At this point Catesby knew that they were to be dedicated to the plot. 

Two weeks later Thomas Percy joined the plot.  Percy complained:"Shall we always, gentlemen, talk and never do anything?"Catesby only hinted at what was being planned. He needed to have all swear an oath of secrecy first. 

The meeting of the oath occurred about May 13.  The site was a house described by Fawkes (9 November, Gunpowder Plot Book, No. 57) as: A house in the fields behind St. Clement Inn". We know that this was the house of  the Jesuit priest Father John Gerard who wrote a detailed account in 1606. The house was  that belonging to a Mrs. Herbert in Bucher's Row behind St. Clement's Dane church. The room was probably a garret reached by a trap-door .  Catesby,Thomas Winter, John Wright, Thomas Percy and Guy Fawkes were present. 

Catesby got out a prayer book-"Primer"  and each of the men took the following oath: 

"You shall swear by the blessed Trinity, and by the Sacrament you now propose to receive, never to disclose directly or indirectly, by word or circumstance, the matter that shall be proposed to you to keep secret, nor desist from the execution thereof until the rest shall give you leave"

They then went to the next room to hear mass and receive the Sacrament from a priest. (It was said that Gerard was that priest  Gerard later denied this)  After returning to the original room Catesby told Percy while  Winter and John Wright told   Guy Fawkes of the purpose of the plot. 
  The Winniard house near Parliament was rented by Thomas Percy.  Percy who had a close relationship to the Earl of Northumberland used that power to convince Henry Ferrers (of Baddesley Clinton) to move and Whinniard to rent the house to Percy.  Gentlemen often  needed houses by Parliament and the rental would not cause concern. (Percy was a cousin of the Earl of Northumberland and also a member of the Gentlemen Pensioners which was commanded by the Earl.) This transaction was finalized on on 24 May 1604. 

Guy Fawkes went with Percy to take possession of the house.  Fawkes had taken the name of John Johnson, servant to Thomas Percy, Gentleman. (Fawkes was known by name to many who did not know of him personally). 

The plotters were then given a break of  9 months.  Plenty of time to dig a tunnel-and better later rather than sooner for fear of detection in the mean time.- The king adjourned Parliament until February 7 1605. 

There was a bit of hope as well - the Spanish peace mission was to come to London in August for the final signing of the treaty- time for negotiation. 

The conspirators split up into the countryside to meet again about Michalemas term (October 9) Just before this time they concluded that Percy's house in Lambeth was to be used for the first storage place for powder and tunnel timber supports. 

Robert Keyes  (age about 40) a distant relative of the Wrights then joined the plot, assigned to watch over the house at Lambeth. 

On August 13,1604 an important day of reckoning came for the plotters.  The peace treaty between Spain and England was signed in London.  There was nothing in it for the Catholic cause. The choice was theirs- to adapt to and build trust with the nation state or to commit an act of treason which would destroy the state or  would if it failed destroy whatever little trust the nation state had in the political loyalties of its Catholic subject.  Despite the feelings of the plotters it appears that there was a feeling building within the Catholic sub-culture that perhaps the path of accommodation and trust building was better than that of continued antagonism and political revolt. The writings of father Henry Garnet shed some light on this topic. 

In early October of 1604 Thomas Winter met with Catesby and Guy Fawkes at Catesby's home Moorcrofts  located near Uxbridge, Middlesex.  This structure had long been a central location of the Catholic Jesuit  underground administration headed by Father Henry Garnet  until government searches  prompted a re-location.  The  topic of the meeting was the construction and digging of the mine shaft.  The deadline of February 7 was drawing dear.  Acting as  Mr. Percy's man Fawkes went to London to make plans. 

Once in London Fawkes  soon discovered that the Winniard house was being used  as a robing room  when Parliament was in session and that it was, in part, at the time in, use by a delegation of Scottish peers as a conference center for their discussions of the proposal for Scottish Union.   Fawkes summoned Thomas Winter to come as soon as possible to investigate. It was determined that they should wait for the Scots to finish business and leave.  In the mean time the plotters would obtain the powder, tools and timbers which were needed.  They stored their supplies in Catesby Lambeth house under the watchful eyes of Keys. The commission occupying the building finished their workd on 6 December 1604. 

The wait was over on the evening of December 11. The plotters brought cold baked meats and supplies were brought in so that those working on the tunnel would not have to leave the house.  Guns and powder and shot were provided should they have to shoot themselves out if detected.  They were determined not to be taken alive.  Work was undertaken in shifts with  a guard posted in the house above. It is amzaing that others utililizing the same structures or those in the conjested neighborhood did not hear the work in progress.  Fawkes could well have set up sound baffles to keep the noise down. Materials were moved across the river from Robert Catesby's house in Lambeth under cover of darkness. The acquisition of gunpowder and supplies is a point of interest in Fawkesian studies as the substance was produced and tightly controlled by the state. 
The question of the royal succession was discussed as work progressed The direct successor was to James I was Prince Henry, who would be in Parliament and be destroyed with James I. Also the Duke of York, later Charles I, who was only five years old at the time, might also go to Parliament and be killed. Thomas Percy would go to be with Charles at Richmond on February 7 and carry him off at the time of the explosion to meet up with the plotters in the Midlands. If this would not work, they would go for Princess Elizabeth  (10 years old) James's eldest daughter, next in line to the throne A hunting party would move from Dunsmore Heath to pick her up at the estate of Lord Harrington  at Combe Abbey near Coventry 12 miles across Dunsmore Heath from Ashby St. Ledgers (the house of Catesby's mother) where she was staying. Friendly peers were to be warned not to attend Parliament. It was decided that further attempts to obtain foreign aid now that the plot was under way would not be helpful. 
The tunnel was at the wall of Parliament on Christmas eve. Trouble was that the wall was an unexpectedly massive 9 feet thick and they also needed to hollow out a room for the gunpowder once the wall was breached.. Time was running out as February 7 was the deadline, the date of the Parliament meeting. Miraculously, on Christmas Eve the session of Parliament was postponed until September 29, 1605-The new deadline was nine months away.  None-the less work intensified.  A break was taken for Christmas but work continued shortly thereafter.  By Candlemas, 2 February and after working for 5 weeks progress was limited to about four and a half feet. The wall was penetrated at a rate of a foot a week, this by men who, besides Guy Fawkes, were not accustomed to manual labor. Because of this slow progress, Christopher Wright, brother of John, joins the plot as an extra pair of hands. In February, thirty six hundred weight barrels of powder were conveyed across the river, each carried by two men using a brewers sling. This nearly two tons of powder would certainly make a dent in Parliament. 

At the end of March, 1605, the excavators of the tunnel hear a strange sound: men removing barrels from a cellar. It turned out that this cellar was located right under Parliament. While called a cellar it was actually the ground floor of parliament beneath the chamber of the House of Lords.  Its size was 77 feet long, 24 feet 4 inches wide and 10 feet high.  It was originally the  a kitchen for the palace.  In 1605 it was a cellar rented out   for coal storage. It was an out of the way place open but not often visited. A coal merchant's widow,  named  Ellen Bright, was using it for his wares- she was however, going out of business and was moving  out. She had leased  the celar from a man called Skinner.

Thomas Percy then rents the cellar (for the stated purpose of storing fuel for the winter ) from  Whinniard from March  25, 1605 and the gunpowder is moved there. Fawkes  completely covered the casks with fuel: billets=3,000s and 500 faggots in bundles. Eventually the cellar would come to contain about 200 pounds worth of gunpowder totalling two hogsheads and 32 small barrels a weight estimated to be around 2,5000 kg. of gunpowder or about 5 times the amount required to blow up the building.  More time was granted the plotters as the king prorogued Parliament until 3 October. 

Guy Fawkes returned to Flanders, Percy and Catesby went to Bath to take the waters. 
Robert Catesby then runs out of money. He had paid for everything from the 20 barrels of gunpowder to the rent of the Lambeth house, the Whinniard house, the cellar and his own rooms at  The Irish Boy.  He also paid for the provisions the other conspirators.  Additional expenses would be required for the financing of the hunting party on Dunsmore Heath following the explosion. How would they then finance the rising? Those such as Percy who had promissed funds had not come up with them. Procedures for bringing in a new member to help with finances was constructed. Catesby and Percy and one other would examine and judge the new members. 

In addition to finances Catesby became concerned about his needs after the explosion.  Hugh Owen  and Sir William Stanley  both important figures of the Catholic sub-culture in exile were to be contacted by Fawkes and asked to join the plot. Fawkes went to the Netherlands around Easter time, March 31, 1605 to contact them. Fawkes did not contact Sir Wiliam Stanley and returns in August. 

Catesby becomes involved with the English effort to recruit a English Catholic force to fight with Archduke Albert in the Netherlands. Catesby along with Thomas Percy's cousin Sir Charles Percy is then able to visit Catholic households without penalty. Resources for the rising in the Midlands were arranged via this opportunity for political networking within the Catholic  sub-culture. This was done without revealing the true mission of the  plot. 

At a meeting in January 1605 at the Catherine Wheel inn in Oxford.Catesby recruits  John Grant. (30 years old) for financial assistance and discusses the plot with Robert Winter.   Robert Winter joins - but later-only because his brother and others were involved and needed his investment. The houses of these two new additions Huddington and Norbrook were also well located to help with the rising in the Midlands.  Neither Grant nor Robert Winter moved south to assist with the digging at this time. 

Soon the only non gentleman Catesby servant, Thomas Bates, is recruited as a loyal follower, as the comings and goings of his master were beginning to alarm him. When quizzed by the plotters for admission Bates revealed that he knew a bit too much already. Bates was a reluctant member and only was relieved of his sistress when Catesby sent him to confess to Father Greenway (Tesimond) the Jesuit told Bates of the merits of the plot and won Bates over. 

Ambrose Rookwood (Age 26) was admitted to the plot around Easter- March 31, 1605. (if you a re counting he would be the 11th member of the plot)  Rookwood had one of the finest stables in all of England. Plenty of horses would be needed for a hasty escape. He was also the wealthiest conspirator. Rookwood was related to the Winters, the Wrights and to Keyes.  He was at first very concerned about the killing- especially the killing of innocents. Catesby was able to convince Rookwood that certain people would be diverted from attendance of Parliament "by a  trick". He also utilized the pronouncements of Father Garnet to justify the accidental killing of innocents.  Because Rookwood's home- Coldham Hall located near Bury St. Edmonds was far away f rom the proposed battle site in the Midlands Catesby convinced Rookwood to rent Clopton Hall  located in the area of Stratford.  Clopton Hall was owned by Lord Carew who was a close f riend of Cecil.  Now most of the conspirators lived  within 15 miles of each other and near by the proposed site of the battle/rising. 

On July 28 1605 King James prorogued parliament again.  The meeting of the 3rd of October was canceled.  The new date was now set.  Parliament would now assemble on: 

The 5th of November 1605
The rest of the summer would find Catesby making plans and looking for financial help with the rest of the plotters being dispersed to their  homes throughout the land. 

In the first part of July Fr. Claudio Aquaviva (General of the Jesuits and superior of Father Garnet) sent a letter on behalf of the pope, to Garnet requesting English Catholics to "suffer in silence" and for Garnet to: "continue, by all means possible, to hinder any insurrection or undutiful proceedings against His Majesty or the State"  News of the discontent of English Catholics and possibly of the rising had reached Aquaviva in Rome.  Father Garnet set out immediately to find Catesby at Fremlands in Sussex.  At the same time Lord Mounteagleand Francis Tresham were staying there. 
It is at this time that Garnet warns Catesby about "rushing headlong into mischief".  Garnet also read Aquaviva's letter to Catesby. Catesby rejected this second  hand information but did not want to discuss the true nature of the project.  Garnet suggests that an important Catholic- Sir Edmund Baynham be sent to flanders to make the case of the English Catholics in front of the Papal Nuncio at Brussels.  Catesby agrees to ask the Pope directly what should be done about the plight of the English Catholics before the plan is completed. The all important decision had been made.  Garnet could have performed his duties as a citizen of the Nation State and turned Catesby  in to the civil authorities.  He did not. Instead he went  to a foreign political power, the Pope for a pronouncement of justice in this case.  The substitution of clerical or cannon law for the law of the land had been a point of intense dispute between church and state for centuries.  In this decision we see that the issue was still far from settled in the minds of the Catholic sub culture. In this decision Garnet demonstrated that he was primarily a citizen of the Vatican and only secondarily an Englishman. As the plotters would discover the issue was in-fact quite well resolved in the minds of the people of England at large and in the eyes of the more nationalistic government which would very strongly reject any intervention from a foreign power in government. An opportunity for Catholics to demonstrate their loyalty was lost. 

Catesby also goes in late March ( or 8 June 1605?)  to visit Father Garnet (chief Jesuit Administrator) at his hide out in Thames street, London,and talks with him about his conscience. Catesby asked: "whether for the good and promotion of the Cathiolic Cause, (in wartime)the neccessity of time and occasion so requireing, it be lawful or not, amongst many Nocents, to destroy and take away some Iocents also"Garnet replies that:"That if the advantages were greater on the side of the Catholics  by the desctuction of the Innocents with the Nocents, than by the preservation of both it was doubtless lawful."

 Garnet further responded: " That if , at the taking of a town possessed by the enemy ther happened to be some friends, tey must undergo the fortunes of war, and the general and common destruction of the enemy." For Garnet killing was justified if the intention was not to destroy the innocent but to help others.  This was all Catesby needed to justify his lawful war. (later after hearing more of the plot Garnet would suggest that Catesby refrain from rushing "headlong into mischief".) Garnet's advice would be helpful in convincing those who were concerned about the unlawful carnage proposed by the plot to "get off the fence" so to speak,  and join the plotters.  As is often the case a few pronouncements by the religious and trusted will often underwrite  the execution of violent and unlawful acts. 

We know that Garnet had concerns following this meeting as he stated:that  he " began to muse what this should mean and fearing he should intend he death of some grat person...I would admonish him.  This I did after at the house in Essex..."

That meeting occured at Fremland in July.  Catesby , Lord Monteagle and, Francis Tresham were present. In the long gallery Garnet said privbately to Catesby:  that "I wished him to look what he did if he intended anything.  That he must first look to the lawfulness of the act itself, and then he must not have so little regard of Inocents that he spare not friends and necessary persons for the Commonwealth"
Catesby wanted to have Thomas Winter tell Garnet his plans but Garnet would  not listen as he was fobidden by a papal bull from doing  so: 
 Garnet said: "I told him what charge we all had of quietness and to procure the like in others"  Garnet  broke off the conversation to talk to Monteagle who he asked: " if Catholics were able to make their part good by arms against the king?" Mounteagle said something to the effect that James was "odiouis to all sorts". 

Later in the day Father Greenway (Tesimond) - Catesby's confessor and probably the confessor to Winter and the seven first plotters reached Fremland.  He met Garnet in a secret room and asked to be heard: "not in confession"  but as confession.  Garnet probably knew what Greenway was about to say.  Greenway said he could not keep the secrets to himself.  Eventually Garnet was worn down and agreed to hear the confession. Garnet however was distressed saying: the Pope will send me to the galleys". The priests agreed that the Pope should be consulted and that Garnet did not approve of the plot.

Later Garnet met again with Greenway at  Fremland. They agreed that Greenway would agree to again talk with Catesby and convince him to give up the plot. Around July 24 1605 the two priests both Garnet and Greenway met with Catesby  at White Webbs- a favorite priest hide and unerground center in Enfield-operated by Anne Vaux  this was to be Garnet's third meeting with Catesby. Garnet gave  Catesby a letter from Father Robert Persons which further explained papal policy. Catesby was told that the pope would not agree with whatever he was planning. Catesby then rejected this third party approach  buit Garnet citing Persons demanded that Catesby tell the Pope about his plans. 

In summary then-around July 23 Catesby reveals the plot to Tesimond  via the confessional, who in turn reveals it with Catesby's permission to Garnet while he was staying at his Thames St. London hide out. 
Thus two priests each knew of the others obligations to the confessional, sub sigillo. Each would know if the other had broken the vow, a clever gambit by Catesby. Catesby would have known that absolution could not be granted for contemplated murder.  He would have had to repent  it and vow not to undertake it. His main purpose was  to trap the two priests. Since Catesby had given Tesimond permission to discuss the matter with Garnet it was possible that Garnet could further pursue the matter sub  sigillo with Catesby.  This did not occur. Catesby carefully avoided either priest. There is also no evidence that they pursued him.Garnet reacted by  requesting special powers from the Pope to help stay any general plot which he might suspect.Had such powers been granted Catesby could be threatened with excommunication.  Eventually it was agreed to send a lay envoy chosen by Catesby Sir Edmund Baynham along with letters from Garnet requesting guidance from thepope via the papal nuncipo in Brussels.  Without the knowledge of GarnetCatesby instructed Baynham to go from the meeting with the nuncio to inform the new pope Paul V of his plans.   Bayynam did not leave until Early September. 

Here again priests took it upon themselves to circumvent the laws of the land .  They would have the Pope, a political leader of another state, decide an issue of public safety and treason in England. ( it is of interest to note that Garnet acting with Father George Blackwell uncovered and informed the Government of the Bye Plot undertaken by another Catholic- Father William Watson to kidnap the king and obtain assistance for Catholics. The only difference in this case was the involvement of the confessional.) If Cecil had indeed used the plot as a test of the loyalties of the Catholic sub culture he had succeeded in confirming and reinforcing the worst fears of the English people and State. 

Further suspicions were aroused in Anne Vaux- a very important member of the Catholic Underground and patroness of Garnet. Vaux was concerned about the comings and goings of Grant, the Wrights and Catesby from her home the important hide out: White Webbs.  Vaux"and seeing their fine horses in the stable she told Mr. Garnet that she feared these wild heads had something in hand, and prayed him for God's sake to talk with Mr. Catesby and to hinder anything that possibly he might"(Confession March 11, 1606 The Gunpowder Book folio 200) Here again a Catholic citizen of the nation state of England chose the judgment of clergy of the Papal State over that of the state in an issue of public safety and treason. 

 It took the pope until September to respond via letter from Father Persons Rector of the English College of Jesuits in Rome with a request for further details, details which Garnet could not provide due to the seal of the confessional. 

At this point there was only a glimmer of hope that Parliament would act to extend toleration for Catholics- but that Parliament would  have been prevented from meeting by the plot. Garnet did not however, know the exact date of the intended action. 

(Catesby eventually broke the seal the day after the plot was discovered by writing openly of the plot to Garnet at Coughton on November 6 This would allow Father Garnet to testify. By which time, Cates)by was dead. 
In the summer of 1605 the plotters either went to the countryside or turned to fund-raising. We do not know what Fawkes was doing.  The Winters went to Yorkshire maybe, to raise money.  Anne Vauxnoticed that they returned with fine new horses.  While in Yorkshire they met their cousins John and Christopher WrightJohn Grant, a Catholic who was not bothered by the Pursuivants went to Norbrook where tended his rose gardens. Percy, Agent of the Earl of Northumberland went about his business of collecting rents from his base at Alnwyck.  He would divert this money of about 3-4000 pounds to the plot.  We do not know of the activities of Keyes and Bates. Catesby continued his search for funds. A search for Jesuits in the Midlands came close but suspiciously did not net any.  The Central hide out of the Jesuits and priest hide White Webbs near London under surveillance was becoming more dangerous for its operator Anne Vaux and her sister Eleanor. Father Garnet felt his residence in Thames Street was too well watched.  He moved to White Webs at the end of August on St. Bartholemew's eve.  Later fearing surveillance  Garnet undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Well of St. Winifred in Flintshire.  He brought with him Little John Owen, Anne Vaux, Eleanor and Edward Brooksby, and Lady Mary Digby wife of Sir Everard Digby

Catesby soon enlisted Edward Digby  (age 24-5) a wealthy Catholic swordsman and horseman.  Catesby arranged to meet Digby while he was on the way to meet the returning pilgrims. Catesby swore Digby into the plot using his poignard holding it up like a cross. Digby was at first outraged but  Catesby convinced his good friend to listen further. It is of great importance to note that Catesby assured him that the Jesuits were aware of the Plot and approved. 
Digby later stated: 

"If I had thought there had been the least sin in the Plot, I would not have been in it for all the world: and no other cause drew me to hazard my Fortune and Life, but Zeal to God's religion..More reasons I had to persuade me to this belief  than I dare utter..."-Barlow, Gunpowder Treason, 1679, "Digby's Letters for the Tower" 

Thus another member of the Catholic aristocracy was convinced that the plot was an  legal action of the church in direct conflict with the interests of public safety and of the nation state. 

Catesby pursued the argument further with Digby after returning to Gothurst using  references to a book by Father Martin Delrius: Disquisitiones Magiacae. This book discusses the relationship of the seal of the confessional to blowing up the sovereign. It parallels the plot and is certainly where Catesby arrived at his plan. Digby in another letter from the tower mentions it in this way: 
"I saw the principal point of the case, judged in a latin book of M.D.,. (Martin Delrius)" 

Delrius argues thusly about the seal of the confessional: 

"Can a priest in any circumstances make use of the knowledge which he has obtained by means of confession to avert imminent mischief to the state?  For instance, a criminal confesses that he or some other person has placed gunpowder or other combustible matter under a certain house; and that unless this is removed, the house will inevitably be blown up, the sovereign killed and as many as go into or out of the city be destroyed or brought into great danger, --in such a case, almost all the learned doctors, with few exceptions, assert that the confessor may reveal it, if he take due care that, neither directly or indirectly he draws into suspicion the particular offense of the person confessing..."

" disclose them for the purpose of a dangerous doctrine, and deters men from confession"...  "But the contrary opinion  (that is not to disclose)  is the safer and better doctrine, and more consistent with religion and with the reverence due to the holy rite of confession."-Jardine, Narrative, pp. 284-5, Quoting from Disquistiones Magicae, Venetian Edition, 1615, lib. Vi. p.7 

Garnet's letter of July 24, 1605 prior to the scheduled opening of parliament of October 3 read as follows: 
"We have received your letters and accept them with all the reverence due to His Holiness and your Paternity.  For my part four times up to the present I have  hindered disturbances.  Nor is there any doubt that we can prevent all public taking up of arms, as it is certain that many Catholics would never attempt anything of this sort without our consent, except under the pressure of a great necessity.  But two things make us very anxious.  The first is lest some in some one province should fly to arms, and that then very necessity should compel others to like courses.  For there are not a few who will not be kept back by a mere prohibition of His Holiness.  There were some who dared to ask, when Pope Clement was alive, whether the Pope could prohibit their defending their lives.  They further say that no Priest shall know their secrets; and of us by name even some friends complain that we put an obstacle in the way of their plans.  Now to soften these in some way, and at least to gain time, that by delay some fitting remedy may be applied, we have advised them that by common consent they should send some one to the Holy Father which they have done, and I have sent him into Flanders to the Nuncio, that he may commend him to His Holiness, and I have sent by him letters explaining their opinions and reasons on both sides.  These letters are written at some length, as they will be carried very safely.  And this for the first danger.  The other is somewhat worse, for the danger is lest secretly some treason or violence be shown to the King, and so all Catholics may be compelled to take arms.  Wherefore, in my judgment, two things are necessary: first that His Holiness should prescribe what in any cases is to be done; and then, that he should forbid any  force of arms to the Catholics under censures (that is threat of excommunication) and by Brief  publicly promulgated, an occasion for which can be taken from the disturbance lately raised in Wales, which has at length come to nothing.  It remains that as all things are daily becoming worse, we should beseech His Holiness soon to give a necessary remedy for these great dangers and we ask his blessing and that of your Paternity"-Gerard's Narrative. p.77. 

.Digby donates 1,500 pounds to the plot and agrees to lead the rising in the Midlands. He would lead a hunting party on Dunsmore Heath then with word of the explosion he would swoop down on Combe abbey and take Princess Elizabeth to be proclaimed queen. Unless Percy could make off with the prince. Digby was a hunter and would not arouse suspicion.  Digby would move from Gothurst to Coughton Court  to be closer to the action in Warwickshire. Coughton Court (home of Sir Thomas Throckmorton-a relative of both Catesby and Digby
Father Garnet had to choose which to contact concerning the plot: Rome or the Government. He chose Rome because there was hope for the relaxation of the Penal Laws in the next session of Parliament. This hope would  perhaps fade had a plot been uncovered. Hope for the relaxation of the penal laws could have been at the time  however only slight whereas the long term benefit of uncovering the plot for Catholic credibility would have been great .While following the uncovering of the plot there would be a tightening of security and concern to ensure that rebel operations had been extinguished eventually this heightened tension would naturally  fade. Attention could then be focused by the government on the trustworthiness of the Jesuits.  If as some have maintained the plot was allowed to flower under the watchful eyes of Cecil and James as a test of the loyalty of the catholic sub culture then such a favorable outcome would have been very well received.  In fact such as test would have been a natural internal security measure following the treaty with Spain. 
In Fall 1605 Francis Tresham (age 37) was recruited. He donates 2000 pounds and is the last conspirator enlisted. Much is made that his admission increased the number of conspirators to 13. Following the recruitment of Digby and the pilgrimage Fathere Garnet did take steps to meet with Catesby at Coughton on Allhalowtide Nov. 1 but Catesby did not come for this meeting. Garnet writes: 
"Mr. Catesby and he promised to come to us at Allhallowtide but they broke, and I assuredly, if they had come, had entered into the matter with Mr. Catesby, and perhaps might have hindered all."

Gerard upon viewing the exodus of Digby's household from Harrowden on the way to Coughton was concerned that something unusual was occurring. Digby wrote back twice to re assure him that he was only going to hunt on Dunsmore Heath. 
Catesby attends many meetings in  October one with an important admiral  Sir William Mounsonn and it seems was being watched by Cecil's men. One meeting was attended by Ben Johnson, writer turned spy.  It is speculated that Catesby perhaps using his role with the  English troop was attempting to gather information from high circles concerning their knowledge of  his plot or broadening the base of his support.  Meetings took place at Catesby's lodgings at  The Irish Boy in the Strand and the Miter in Bread St. 
Guy Fawkes returns from Yorkshire to the Bell Inn at Daventry on October 14. 
The conspirators meet on October 15 and discuss problems with Catholics who sitting in Parliament might be killed:. Discussions went on for several days both in London and at White Webbs.  Catesby was opposed to giving anyone direct warning-perhaps an indirect argument would convince some not to attend.Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel; Lord Mountague; Lord Mordaunt and the relatives of Tresham, Mounteagle and Stourton  were to be warned if possible. Mordaunt was believed not to attend and the others were either to be subtly warned or prevented from attending. 
 Catesby declared in conclusion: "Rather than the project should not take effect, if they were as dear to me as my own son, they also must be blown up."-Gunpowder Book,126. Tresham gets cold feet and asks for postponement. Catesby told him that Percy need to agree and that he was not available for discussion.  The first day was essential as the king would have to be present only on that day. Tresham also hinted that he could not produce the money he had promised. Winter rode with him to his lodgings to get 100 pounds which he had there.  He was ordered to immediately find the rest. 
On October 25, Thomas Winter learns via a chance meeting with Mounteagle that Prince Henry would not be attending Parliament. This information was conveyed to Fawkes and Catesby that day at White Webbs. Arrangements were then made to surprise the prince, aged 12, and leave alone Duke Charles
At the same time Fawkes notes that he had made a visit to the cellar and that by consulting secret marks knew that nothing had been disturbed. Rookwood stations horses in London and along route to Midlands to carry the news to Digby at Dunchurch on Dunsmore Heath. Tresham would be at White Webs with the badly needed money. Percy  would arrive with the Alnwick rents.Robert Winter on October 24 arranges for ready money, fearing he may have to leave the country. Others in the midlands guarded stores of weapons or prepared for a hunting expedition on Dunsmore Heath. 
Cecil writes on the same day, "Let His Majesty know that I dare boldly say no shower nor storm shall mar our harvest except it should come from the middle region." 
Two days later- October 26, an anonymous writer, some suspect Tresham, informs Lord Mounteagle of the plot. Mounteagle was at his mansion in Hoxton when he received the letter. 

The King's Book  describes the event" 
...the Lord Monteagle, son and heir to the Lord Morley, being in his own lodgings, ready to go to supper, at seven of the clock at night, one of his footmen, whom he had sent of an errand over the street, was met by a man of a reasonable tall personage, who delivered him a letter , charging him to put it in my Lord his master's hands'; which my Lord no sooner perceived, but that having broken it up (opened it) and perceiving the same to be of an unknown and somewhat unlegible hand, and without either date or superscription, did call one of h is men unto him,  for helping him to read it.  But no sooner did he conceive the strange contents thereof, although he was somewhat perplexed what construction to make of it, as whether a matter of consequence, as indeed it was, or whether some foolish devised pasquil by some of his enemies to scare him from his attendance at the Parliament, yet did he, as a most duitful and loyal subject, conclude not to conceal it, whatever might come of it. Whereupon notwithstanding the  latensess and darkeness of the night in that season of the year, he presently repaired to his Majesty's palace at Whitehall and there delivered the same to the Earl of Salisbury, his Majesty's principal Secretary."

The Message was addressed on the outside: 
"To the ryght honorable the Lord Mownteagle".

The Message was: 

Mhy lord out of the love i beare (the word yowe inked out) to some of youere frends i have a care of youer preservacion therefor i would advyse yowe as yowe tender youer lyf to devys some exscuse to shift of youer attendance at this parleament for god and man hath concurred to punishe the wickednes of this type and thinke not slightlye of this advertisement but retyere youre self into youre contri wheare yowe maye expect the event in safti for thowghe theare be no apparance of anni stir yet i saye they shall receyve a terrible blowe this parleament and yet they shall not sei who hurts them this councel is not to be contemned because it maye do youwe good and can do yowe no harme for the dangere is passed as soon as yowe have burnt the letter and i hope god will give yowe the grace to mak good use of it to whose holy proteccion i comend yowe."

Mounteagle rides right off to London with the letter, although the message was far from exact or clear. A conference was called to discuss the letter and it was agreed to wait and watch. Thomas Winter said he learned of the delivery of the letter the next day on the 27th. The next morning he informed Fawkes and Catesby at White Webs believes that the letter was too vague and the government would be slow to act. 
Precautions were to be taken and Fawkes was to check the powder. He goes to do this on the 30th. Tresham avoids meeting the others as he was to hand over funds and is suspect as a relative of Mounteagle. Fawkes returns with the news that his marks were intact and the powder not discovered. 
Thomas Winter goes to London to check things out on the 31st. No indication of serious consideration of the note. Winter tells Tresham to meet Catesby
The King also returns to London on the 31st and Cecil gives him a day to settle in before mentioning the letter. 
Tresham meets with Catesby on November 1. Tresham convinces the others of his innocence but argues for abandonment of the plot. Tresham continues  to stall in regard to the money. He sets up another meeting to give the plotters another 100 pounds. The same day Cecil places the letter before the king. He meets with the king again  on Saturday November 2. 
As the King's Book reports: 

"At which time it was determined, that the said Lord Chamberlain should according to his custom and office, view all the Parliament-houses, both above and below, and consider what likelihood or appearance of any such danger might possibly be gathered by the sight of them.  But, yet as well for staying of idle rumours, as for being the more able to discern the mystery the nearer that things were in readiness, his journey thither was ordained to be deferred till the afternoon before the sitting down of the Parliament, which was upon the Monday following."

The king orders a search of the Parliament building to be conducted on the day before Parliament was to meet on Nov. 4. 
Garnet says an illegal mass on November 1 at Coughton Court.  Lady Digby, Anne Vaux and most of the Digby household except Sir Everard. Other local Catholics attended. This is one of the charges which convicted him. In the mass for the day is the Vesper Hymn with the lines: 
"From the land of believers take away all unbelievers that all beneath our One Shepherd's sway within one fold may come again"
This was taken by the government, although an ancient text, as evidence Garnet had used these lines in his discourse to give one last warning to the conspirators. Catesby was to have been at the Mass but did not turn up.Garnet's last words of the mass urged the success of the Catholic cause in the beginning of the first parliament. The government interpreted them as wishing for the success of the plot. They can also be interpreted as an indication that Garnet did not then that in the event of the plot's success the parliament would not get a chance to sit- or in any case not for long! 
Fawkes is sent to advise Percy of events on Friday November 1. Percy and Fawkes return to London on November 2. On the evening of November 2, the conspirators meet at a house near St. Clement's to consider the plot and agree to move ahead. Percy diverted the rent money he was to collected, over 3,000 pounds, to the uprising. Percy also researches the atmosphere at the court. 

Catesby was to go to Dunchurch on Monday while Percy was to go to Sion house at Isleworth on that night- November 4 or early the next morning.  This meeting would allow Percy to consult with the Duke of Northumberland- his patron- for whom he had been collecting taxes.  The true purpose of the meeting may have been to determine what had occurred at court following the discovery of the letter. Some would use this meeting to link Northumberland to the plot. Following this meeting Percy probably visited Richmond Palace- it was November 4. At the same time Catesby met with Rookwood to calm his fears and tell him that all was well. 
On Monday, November 4, Thomas Howard, Lord Chamberlain, with Lord Mounteagle, searching Parliament, discover the cellar and stored wood and coal. By asking Whyneard, the keeper of the wardrobe, they find that Thomas Percy had rented the house and cellar. 

The The king's Book reports: 

At which time (Monday) he (Thomas Howard, Lord Chamberlain) went to the Parliament-house, accompanied with my Lord Mounteagle, being in zeal to the King's service ernest and curious to see the event of that accident, whereof he had the fortune to be the first discoverer; where, having viewed all the lower rooms, he found in the vault under the upper-house, great store and provision of billets, faggots, and coals; and , inquiring of Whyneard, keeper of the wardrobe, to what use he had put those lower rooms and cellars? He (Whinniard) told him, that Thomas Percy had hired both the house, and part of the cellar, or vault, under the same; and that the wood and coal therein were the said gentleman's own provision.  Whereuopon, the Lord Chamberlain, casting his eye aside, perceived a fellow standing in a corner there, calling himself the said Percy's man, and keeper of the house for him, but indeed was Guido Faukes, the owner of that hand which should have acted that monstrous tragedy. The Lord Chamgberlain, lookinguupon all things with a  heedful , yet in outful appearance, with but a careless and rackless eye,. as became so wise and diligent a Minister, he presently addressed himself to the King in the said privy gallery; where, in the presence of the Lord Treawsurer, the Lord Admiral, the Earls of Worcester, Northampton, and Salisbutry, he made his report what he had seen and obsereved there; noting that Monteagle had told him, that he no sooner heard Thomas Percy named to be the possessor of that house, but considering both his backwardness in religion, and the old dearness of  friendship between him and the said   Percy, he did greatly suspect the matter, and that the letter should com from him.  The said Lord Chamberlain also told, that he did not wonder a little at the extradordinary great provision of wood and coal in that house., where Thomas Percy had so seldom occasion to remain; as likewise it gave him in his mind, that this man (Fawkes) looked a very tall and desperate fellow. This could not but increase the King's former apprehension and jealously (suspicion); whereupon he insisted as before, that the house was narrowly to be searched, and that those billets and coals should be searched to the bottom, it being most suspicious that they were laid there on ly for covering of the powder.  Of this same mind also were all the counsellors then present; but upon the fashion of making of the search was it long debated; For, upon the one side, they were all so jealous of the King's safety, that they all agreed that there could not be too much caution used for preventing his danger; and yet, upon the other part, they were all extreme loth and dainty, that in case this letter should pprove to be nothing but the evaporation of an idle brain, then a curious search being made, and nothing  found , should not only turn to the general scandal of the King and the state ,as being so suspicious of e very light and frivolous toy, but likewise lay an ill-favoured imputation upon the Earl of Northumberland, one of his Magesty's greatest subjects and counsellors, this Thomas Percy being his kinsman and most confident familiar.And the rather were they curious upon this point, knowing how far the King detested to be thought suspicious or jealous of any of his good subjects though of the meanest degree; and therefore, though they all agreed upon the main ground which was to provide for the security of the King's person, yet did they much differ in the circumstances, by which this action might be best carried with least din and occasion of slander.  But, the King himself still persisting, that there were divers shrewd appearances, and that a narrow search of those places could prejudge no man that was innocent, he at last plainly resolved them, that either must all the parts of those rooms be narrowly searched, and no possibility of danger left unexamined, or else he and they all must resolve not to meddle in it at all, but plainly to go the next day to the Parliament, and leave the success to fortune; which he believed they would be loth to take upon their conscience; for in such a case as this, an half-doing was worse  than no doing at all.  Whereupoon it was at last concluded that nothing should be left unsearched in those houses; and yet for the better colour and stay of rumour, in case nothing were found, it was thought meet, that upon a pretence of Whyneard's missing some of the King's stuff, or hangings, which he had in keeping, all thouse rooms should be narrowly ripped for them."

At 3 o'clock Monday afternoon November 4 the Privy Council appointed Sir Thomas Knyvet to search that night. 

Also on November 4, Sir Everard Digby, unaware of difficulties in London, rides out for the hunting party on the 5th. At the inn in Dunchjurch gathered a large hunting party.  Relatives and friends of Digby, amongst them: Sir Robert Digby of Coleshill, his uncle, the Littleton cousins, Stephen Littleton of Holbeach House and Humphrey Littleton of Hagley Hall. Some were interested in hearing from Catesby about the English Troop.  The group included  about 100. Only Digby knew of the plot. 

That night, Fawkes was on guard at ten o' clock when Robert Keyes brings him the Watch given by to him by Percy. The watch was probably a symbolic gesture as fuses would have been timed in advance and the king would not be on a strict timetable. Fawkes also was probably not preparing to leave by ship but perhaps to go somewhere to wait out the events ( point of contention to Fawkensian scholars.) 
Catesby eventually heads with his servant and John Wright  Monday afternoon from the Red Bull in Drury Lane riding out of London toward Dunchurch to aid in the rising on Monday afternoon. John Wright earlier had met with Thomas Winter, Robert Keyes and Thomas Percy. Keyes receives the watch and John Wright goes to meet Catesby while Percy stays the night at the Red Lion ,Gray's Inn Lane with preparations to leave in the morning. Christopher Wright purchases three  beaver hats (from Jos. Hewett) . He then picks up an engraved sword from John Craddock of the Strand, as did Rookwood and "another", both symbols in their confidence of their success. The engraving on Rookwood's  sword : "The Passion of Christ" .Rookwood had stationed his horses at intervals along the road to Warwickshire.  He was to wait for the news of the blast and carry it to Catesby and the others at Dunchurch. 
At about Midnight,Fawkes heard footsteps on the way to him on watch in the cellar. Sir Thomas Knyvet, a justice of the peace, and a small number of men found Fawkes in the rooms dressed to ride at such a late time of the evening. A search was made of the room and the powder found under coal and wood. Fawkes was searched and found to have three matches and a lantern. Fawkes was bound and guarded and Sir Thomas went to the palace to advise the Lord Chamberlain and Cecil who informed the king at about four in the morning. Fawkes did not talk but gave only the name of John Johnson, servant to Thomas Percy
King James I asked: "Why would you have fired the powder?" Fawkes replied: 

 "To blow the Scottish beggars back to their native mountains!"

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