Hanged, Drawn and Quartered.....
The Gunpowder Plot Part 4
Only eight of the original Plot survived.
On a cold Monday January 27, 1606 they were brought from the Tower of
London through Traitors Gate and onto a barge to go up-river to
Westminster. John Winter was only 19 hardly a part of the plot at all
but he would be tried with his two other brothers-Thomas and Robert.
The only account of the trial is the True and Perfect Kings Book which is
Once at Westminster the men sat for a while in the Star Chamber-they told
their rosaries while the mocking public looked on.
There was no defense-no verbal examination. They had already been
condemned several days before-The Archbishop of Canterbury had summoned a
committee to discuss the manner of their execution.
After a half hour the prisoners were led from the star chamber into
Westminster Hall which was packed with onlookers. The Queen and Prince as
well as James were there Incognito.
The prisoners were brought to a high scaffold so that they could be seen
and faced their jury- not a jury of their piers but a special
commission-Robert Cecil,Sir John Popham,Charles Howard,Thomas Howard
Henry Somerset,Charles Blount,Henry Howard,Sir Thomas Fleming,Sir Thomas
Walmesley,Sir Peter Warburton-quite a biased group. Counsel for the crown
were Sir Edward Philips and Sir Edward Coke. Coke was know as a savage
prosecutor. Philips spent time as a Circuit Judge responsible for among
other things cutting off the ears of Catholics.
Lack of representation was not unusual for the period nor was the use of
torture to force confessions-or alteration of the evidence.
The only evidence required was very strong- they were Catholics, in close
communication with Jesuits a part of an underground army working on
behalf of the Pope for the restoration of England to the true faith and
possibly the defeat of England by Spain.
This was fact and took precedence over all else.
All except Digby pleaded not guilty. He had been arraigned on a separate
indictment in Northamptonshire. Fawkes was singled out by Popham -how
could he be not guilty when
found in a room full of gunpowder (two tons) with a pocket full of
matches! But Popham had given Fawkes an opportunity to speak-he did not
deny being part of the plot but what he did say was in relation to the
priests:we never opened the matter to them. Coke had no suitable reply-
all that was put in for form of law, because it must be presupposed-not
very convincing. To get things back on track Sir Edward Phillips got
right up and said:
but of such horror and monstrous nature, that before now
The tongue of man never delivered,
The ear of man never heard
The heart of man never conceived
Nor the malice of hellish or earthly devil ever practiced
For if it be abominable to murder the least
If to touch Gods anointed be to oppose themselves against God
If by blood to subvert princes,states and kingdoms, be hateful to God and
man, as all true Christians must acknowledge
Then how much more than too monstrous shall all Christian hearts judge
the horror of this reason , to murder and subvert
Such a king
Such a queen
Such a progeny
Such a state
Such a government
So complete and absolute
That God approves
The world admires
All true English hearts honor and reverence
The Pope and his disciples only envy and malign.
Then Coke took over: He described the gentlemen of good houses of
excellent parts of very competent fortunes and estates who have been most
perniciously seduced, abused corrupted and Jesuited The Principal
offenders are the seducing Jesuits men that use the reverence of
religion, yea even the most sacred and blessed name of Jesus as a mantle
to cover their impiety,blasphemy, treason and rebellion... The trial was
only a first step to
bringing the priests to justice.
(Cecil had instructed Coke in how the trial was to take place: These
things I am commanded to renew unto your memory-First that you be sure to
make it appear to the world that there was an employment of some persons
to Spain for a practice of invasion (referring to the visit of Thomas
Winter to Madrid ) as soon as the Queens breath was out of her body. The
reason is this for which the King doth urge it: He saith some men there
are that will give out and do that only despair of the Kings courses on
the Catholics and his severity draw all these to such works of
discontentment where by you it will appear that before his Majesty face
was ever seen or that he had done anything in government, the King of
Spain was approached through he refused it, saying he rather expected to
have peace... you must remember to lay Owen as found in this as you can)
In the trial Cecil noted that gunpowder itself was the invention of a
Friar -one of the Romash Rabble Jokes were made - if the trial had been
conducted sooner they would have hung John Johnson instead of Guy Fawkes.
From the scriptures he quoted: the proud have laid a snare for me, and
spread a net a broad yea and set traps in my wayCecil reflected upon the
tolerance of James and then laid out the punishment which was due traitors:
First after a traitor hath had his just trial and is convicted and
attained he shall have his judgment to be drawn to the place of execution
from his prison as being not worthy any more to tread upon the face of
the earth, whereof he was made. Also that he hath been retrograde by
nature, and there fore he is drawn backwards at a horses tail. And
whereas god hath made the head of a man the highest and most supreme part
as being his chief grace and ornament he must be drawn with his head
declining downward, and lying so near the ground as may be being thought
unfit to take benefit of the common air. For which cause also he shall be
strangled being hanged up by the neck between heaven and earth as deemed
unworthy of both or either as likewise that the eyes of men may behold
and their hearts condemn him. Then he is to be cut down alive and to have
his privy parts cut off and burnt before his face, as being unworthy
begotten and unfit to leave any generation after him. His bowels and
inlaid parts taken out and burnt who inwardly had conceived and harbored
in his heart such horrible treason after to have his head cut off which
had imagined the mischief and lastly his body to be quartered and the
quarters set up in some high and eminent place to the view and
detestation of men and to become a prey for the fowls of the air. And
this is a reward due to traitors.
The guilty were caught red handed and the Jesuits (who were captured but
absent) were behind it all.
When Cecil was done the jury retired without a word from the accused.
Digby was then tried separately and because of his guilty plea allowed to
speak. He was involved for four reasons: 1. Loyalty to Catesby 2.
religion 3. James change from tolerance to intolerance 4. the view that
even harsher rules against Catholics were to come.
He asked to be punished alone and that his family be spared. Coke answered:
the 109th psalm was quoted:
May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. Let his children be
carried about vagabonds and beg in one generation may his name be blotted out
To which Digby might well have replied:the mouth of the wicked and the
mouth of the deceitful man is opened against me.
Promises of toleration struck a sore point- however those promises had
not been given to Digby personally but to Percy who was conveniently dead.
Henry Howard stated that such promises could not and would not have been
Cecil then commended Lord Mounteagle for bringing forth the letter.
Digby admitted that he had received the information concerning tolerance
second hand from Sir Thomas Tresham.
The Jury returned and gave their verdict:
Fawkes,Thomas,Roobert and John Winter, Rookwood, Grant, Bates and Keyes
were all guilty and of course Digby was guilty-Digby asked to be beheaded
instead of drawn and quartered. The prisoners were asked what they could
say wherefore judgment of Death should not be pronounced against them.
The Winters:They Accounted themselves not guilty of any crime in the
sight of God, Whom they sought to serve and please in the action and
would not for any other respect have attempted it. Had it not been such a
high crime the younger Winter could be spared but not in this case
although all sensed the tragedy.
Rookwood:Cites friendship with Catesby and loyalty to the Catholic religion-
the author of the Kings Book responded:he would fain have made his
bringing up and breeding in idolatry to have been some excuse to his
villainy but a fair tale could not help a foul deed
John Grant:He admitted his guit of a conspiracy intended but never
Guy Fawkes- again spoke of the innocence of the Priests (he was much
tortured and in pain and not well).He acknowledged his own guilt and
stated that he was ready to die for it.
Keyes- Made a spirited speech which was quite defiant. He discussed the
persecution which had motivated the plot and personal experience. he was
glad of the occasion of the trial and was not afraid of the sentence of
death. There could be for him no better cause than to die for freedom.
Bates- the serving man had little to say he said it was done for love of
Popham Lord Chief Justice then defended the Recussancy Laws passed by
Elizabeth-and that they were necessary mild equal moderate and to be
justified to all the world He then pronounced judgment and read the
description of the penalty once again.
There was a pause- all eyes turned to Digby- who Bowed to the Lords and said:
If I may but hear any of your Lordships say you forgive me I shall go
more cheerfully to the gallows
The Lords said:god forgive you and we do
It was however only a verbal forgiveness. They were taken out from
Westminster Hall into the cold and by boat to the Tower.
Cecil wrote later: Most of them confessed their offense against God
and this State, some few and especially Grant did obstinately hold that
this late action was no sin against God but all died true Roman
Catholics... The conspirators probably would have taken this as the
There was a considerable delay between judgment and execution. The trial
was on Monday the 27th of January. Tuesday and Wednesday they remained in
the Tower-but not to prepare for death- there were no visitors-Only
father Strange who in the tower
ministered to them. The delay instead was for the construction of a
scaffold and arrange for the butchering blocks and issue plans for crowd
The Gala was to begin....
There might be protests (Sheriff Verneys house had been set on fire twice
when holding prisoners from Holbeach). The Lord Mayer ordered that one
able person with halberd in hand to stand at every door of every several
dwelling house in the open street in the way that the traitors were to be
drawn towards the place of execution... Sir Arthur Gorges wrote a
complaint to Cecil- The gate of Pauls Churchyard was not the place for
the executions. But they took place there the location only changed on
the second day to
the Old Palace Yard.
The first conspirators were drawn behind horses heads downward on a
framework of poles through croud streets of London toward St. Pauls. They
were Digby,Robert Winter, John Grant and Thomas Bates. The hangman was
ready for them there waiting beside his ladder on the scaffold, the
butcher stood beneath at his block with his knives and cleavers for the
quartering and the fire was already burning to receive their privates and
entrails. The hangmans skill was not to kill them instantly by breaking
their necks. It was far more entertaining to deliver them to the block
when still alive. The prisoner mounts the ladder to the gibbet arm the
rope is placed around his neck then the hangman would turn him off the
ladder. The prisoner was instantly cut down and sent to the block very
Digby went first. He grew pale and eye heavy he spoke briefly noting
that he held no offense but asked forgiveness of God and the king and the
whole kingdom-he crossed himself and prayed his Latin prayers-he gave
great satisfaction to the standers by.he made no resistance to the block
whilst he was in quartering and his bowels and heart were cast into the
fire and his head cut off the hangman holding it up as is usual it was
noted that there was no alteration at all in his countenance. It was also
said that When the executioner pluckt out his heart holding up saying
this is the heart of a traitor that Sir Everard made the statment-Thou Liest
Winter went nest making no call for mercy just a few prayers then John
Grant with a short speech-excusing himself by his dedication to religion.
Then came Bates who noted again that it was done only for the love of his
master (Catesby) he asked forgiveness of god,king and kingdom.
The first executions ended. The air must of smelled of burning human
flesh and pitch.
Their quarters were dipped in tar to preserve them whilst on display and
set up on display at tower bridge.
Gerard writes: many of the beholders returned full of pity and compassion
towards so worthy minded men...especially Sir Everard Digby whose
fortitude of mind hey did so much admire and had so great opinions of his
devotions that for all that day and some time after they could talk
almost of nothing else.
Then they came back the next day in their thousands lining the three mile
route between the Tower and Old Palace yard in Westminster. They were
hanging from upper story windows and rooftops. The day was Friday the
31st of January 1606.
It was now the turn of Thomas Winter Ambrose Rookwood Robert Keyes and
Guy Fawkes. Rookwood knew he would be drawn past the house where his wife
He asked to be told when that was- he paused and could see her standing
in a window-he shouts: pray for me she answers that she would.I will and
be of good courage and offer thyself wholly to God. I for my part do as
freely restore thee to God as he gave thee unto me
Thomas Winter the only survivor of the original inner ring was the first.
He was asked to speak but replied that he had already told all to the
Council he had come to die and noted that the priests were not to blame.
Rookwood followed making a long speech asking forgiveness from King and
State. He prayed for James and the Queen and Children...Prayed to God to
make James a Catholic -as the historian noted : a line which was to mar
all the potage with one filthy weed.
Then next was Keyes-he tried to jump from the ladder-but - the rope broke
and he was quickly taken to the block and divided into four parts.
The last was the one to become the most famous. Already tortured into ill
health Guy Fawkes could hardly go up the ladder.
He asked a kind of forgiveness of the King prayed and then jumped off the
ladder breaking his neck . He was spared the pain of the inevitable butchery.
John Winter was left in the Tower for a few weeks but was taken to
Worcester and executed at Red Hill on April 7 1606.
They all were convinced that they died serving religious freedom--but in
such a way however which was against the law and threatened a state for
which Catholic causes were
linked to empire building on the part of Spain and reconquest of souls by
Digby Wrote a beautiful epitaph:
Whos that which knocks? O stay, my Lord I come
I know that call since first it made me know
My self, which makes me now with joy to run
Lest he be gone that can my duty show
Jesu my Lord I know Thee by the Cross
Thou offerst me, but not unto my loss.
This was found in his papers in the Tower after his death.
On the 6th of February 1606 Cecil addressed a joint session of Parliament
which he was pleased to find had come prepared with articles containing
suggestions for harsher laws concerning the priests and papists. He was
happy to encourage them.That very day Father Garnet was on the final
portion of his journey from Worcester to London Cecil wrote:thus have you
in effect the true state of Parliament causes to which I will only make
this addition, that we are sure of Hall (Oldcorne) and Walley (Garnet) in
the Gatehouse to which place we have this night committed them themselves
not sticking now to acknowledge their dignities(written to Lord Dirleton)
Cecils enemy of more than 20 years was now being brought into his grasp....
Yet Garnet proved a very difficult nut to crack.
As we continue we shall learn of the miracle and of the brave Jesuit.....
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