Guy Fawkes

Guye Fawkes (bef. 1570 - 1606)

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Guye (Guy) "Guido" Fawkes aka Fawxe
Born before in Stonegate, York, Yorkshire, Englandmap [uncertain]
Ancestors ancestors
[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died in Old Palace Yard, Westminster, Middlesex, Englandmap
Profile last modified 26 May 2020 | Created 3 Oct 2014 | Last significant change: 26 May 2020
03:59: I Speed edited the Biography for Guye Fawkes (bef.1570-1606). (Formatting.) [Thank I for this]
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Biography

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Guy Fawkes is Notable.
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Guy Fawkes was born in Yorkshire, England.

Guy, Guye or Guido Fawkes is remembered today for his part in the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. He and other English Catholics conspired to blow up Parliament and kill King James I because of his anti-Catholic policies. The plot was foiled on the evening before the state opening of parliament on 5 November—still celebrated today as Guy Fawkes Day—when he was arrested in the cellars beneath the House of Lords with 36 barrels of gunpowder and all the paraphernalia needed to set off an explosion.

Contents

Early life

Guy Fawkes was the only son and eldest surviving child of Edward Fawkes and his wife Edith Jackson.[1][2] He was baptised on 16 April 1570 at St Michael le Belfrey, a parish church next to York Minster in the centre of the City of York. The parish register records: “Guye fawxe, sone to Edward fawxe, [christened] the xvj day of aprile.”[3][4]

His exact date and place of birth are not recorded. Some early sources give his birthplace as Bishopthorpe[5][6] or near Spofforth,[7] two villages in Yorkshire, while Fawkes himself said he was born in the City of York.[8] Most modern authors agree he was born in Stonegate, a historic street in central York,[9][10][11][12] although a house in Petergate opposite the south door of St Michael le Belfrey has also been suggested.[13]

His father was a lawyer in the ecclesiastical courts of York and became Registrar of the Exchequer Court of York, a post held by his own father before him.[9]

Guy's family lived in Stonegate, on the north west side of the street, in a house leased from the Dean and Chapter of York. It had been his grandparents' house. His grandfather William Fawkes had died some years earlier, but his grandmother Ellen (Harrington) Fawkes still lived with them.[9] She died in 1575 and bequeathed young Guy her “beste whistle, and one ould angell of gould.”[14]

His father died in January 1578-9,[15] without leaving a will. Eight-year-old Guy, as the only son, became heir to his father’s estate.[16]

Catholicism

Guy was educated at “ye free schole in ye Horsefair,” better known as St Peter’s School, in York.[17] Although governed by the Protestant church, the school is suspected of exerting a strong Catholic influence on its students.[12] His fellow students included brothers John and Christopher Wright, and future Jesuit priests Oswald Tesimond and Edward Oldcorne, who, years later, would all be linked to the Gunpowder Plot.[18][12]

His parents had outwardly conformed to the Protestant religion and regularly attended church at St Michael le Belfrey,[17] but after his father's death Catholic sympathies emerged on both sides of his family.[9]

His father's kinsman William Harrington is known to have harboured Catholic priest Edmund Campion at his house in Mount St John. Campion had arrived in England in 1580 to establish an underground Jesuit mission, something strictly forbidden by Queen Elizabeth's religious policies, and was executed for treason in 1581. Harrington's son William, inspired by Campion, later became a Jesuit priest and he too was put to death in 1594.

On his mother's side, Guy's first cousin Richard Cowling also became a Jesuit priest. Guy's mother is also thought to be related to a Guy Jackson of Bishopthorpe who was listed as recusant during the years 1581-85.[9]

His mother remarried in 1587-89 when Guy was about 18. He lived with her and his Catholic stepfather Dionis Baynbridge near Scotton, a village close to the River Nidd, west of York. While there, he is thought to have embraced Catholicism and come into contact with local recusants, including the Percy and Pulleyn families.[19][20] It was a period of growing religious tension and harsh penalties for Catholics who failed to conform to the Protestant faith.

In early 1591, he turned 21 and obtained the full right to his father’s estate. It included a barn and yard in Gillygate, York, and 4½ acres of land at Clifton, just north of the city. In October 1591, Guy leased this to a tailor for 21 years at an annual rent of £2 2s. In August 1592, he sold the balance of his estate, consisting of a farmhouse, garden, yard, and about 6½ acres of land at Clifton, for £29 13s 4d. He later said, “his father left him but small living, which he spent.”[8]

Some online family trees and websites claim Fawkes married Maria Pulleine or Pulleyn in about 1590 in Scotton, Yorkshire, and had a son Thomas Fawkes on 6 February 1591. There is no reliable evidence to support this theory. His supposed wife, Mary Pulleyn of Scotton, is recorded as the wife of another man in 1597 and therefore could not have married Fawkes. See Research Notes.

Military service in Flanders

He left England in about 1593 and travelled to the Low Countries. He joined the Army of Flanders, a multinational army of Philip II, King of Spain, and in 1596 fought at the Siege of Calais under Archduke Albert. His society was said to "sought by all the most distinguished in the Archduke's camp for nobility and virtue" and he was described as:

a man of great piety, of exemplary temperance, of mild and cheerful demeanour, an enemy of broils and disputes, a faithful friend, and remarkable for his punctual attendance upon religious observances.[21]

In about 1599, the English government intercepted a letter written by Guy's cousin Richard Cowling to a gentleman in Venice. The letter, endorsed "fugitives," read in part:

I pray you lette me intreate yr favoure and frendshippe for my Cosen Germane Mr Guydo Fawks who serves Sr William (Stanley) as I understande he is in greate wante and yr worde in his behalfe may stande him in greate steede ... He hath lefte a prettie livinge here in his countre which his mother being married to an unthriftie husbande since his departure I think hath wastied awaye. Yet she and the reste of our friends are in good health ... lette him tell my Cousin Martin Harrington that I was at his Brother Henries house at the mounte[22]

Shortly after the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603, Fawkes travelled to Madrid seeking Spanish support for a Catholic uprising in England.[21] He submitted a memorandum to the court of King Philip III railing against the new English monarch James I, who he described as a “heretic” who intended “to have all of the Papist sect driven out of England.” As it turned out, the Spaniards were reluctant to become involved—they had their own plans for peace with England.[12]

Gunpowder Plot

In early 1604 Fawkes met Thomas Winter in Flanders. Winter recruited him to join a small group of English Catholics who had resolved to “doe some whatt in Ingland if the pece with Spaine healped us nott.” The two men returned to London together. In May 1604, Fawkes met Robert Catesby, the leader of the group, and was told of his scheme to blow up parliament using gunpowder.[11][23]

The original plan involved tunnelling under the House of Lords and laying explosives to be set off when King James attended the state opening of parliament. Thomas Percy, another member of the group, leased a small house next to the Lords' chamber in May 1604 and Fawkes, who was relatively unknown in London, took charge of the house in the guise of John Johnson, Percy’s servant.[11][24]

After various delays, including the prorogation of parliament due to a severe outbreak of the plague, the men began the slow process of digging a tunnel from the house’s cellar through the foundations of the parliament buildings. In March 1605, they discovered a tenant vacating an undercroft or cellar on the ground floor under the House of Lords. They quickly secured the lease, and, abandoning their tunnel, began to stockpile gunpowder in the cellar.[11][24]

Contemporary engraving of conspirators

The summer of 1605 was spent away from London and Fawkes briefly returned to Flanders to forewarn their supporters of the scheme. The threat of the plague abated and it was announced that King James would open parliament on 5 November 1605.[25]

The plotters made their final preparations in October, agreeing that Fawkes would remain in London to explode the gunpowder, then escape to the continent, and the others would lead a simultaneous uprising in the Midlands.[11]

A weak point in their scheme was that the explosion could potentially kill anyone who attended the state opening, whether they be friend or foe. Towards the end of October, someone familiar with their plans sent an anonymous letter to Lord Monteagle warning him not to attend the opening on 5 November. He took the letter to Whitehall and an initial inspection of the parliament buildings identified an unusually large pile of firewood and coals in the ground floor cellars beneath the House of Lords.[26][27]

This was enough to raise suspicions and, at about midnight on 4 November, Westminster magistrate Sir Thomas Knyvett and his men began a more thorough search. Near the entrance of the building, they saw Fawkes standing fully clothed and with his boots on. This seemed suspicious at that time of night so they arrested him. Hidden under the firewood and coals in the cellar they found 36 barrels of gunpowder. Fawkes was searched and found to be carrying three slow matches and all of the paraphernalia needed to set off an explosion.[11][28][27]

Interrogation, trial and execution

Fawkes was closely questioned but refused to implicate his fellow plotters. He did not deny his intention to blow up the House of Lords, but took all of the blame on himself. His only regret was that he had failed to set off the explosion.[11][29][27] At first, he insisted his name was John Johnson, he was 36 years old and that:

he had been born in Yorkshire, 'in Netherdale', that his father had been called Thomas, and that his mother's maiden name had been Edith Jackson.[30]

It took two days to discover his real name was Fawkes, and this was only after King James authorised his torture in the Tower of London, beginning with the “gentler tortures” then gradually increasing in severity.[11][29][27] He admitted he was:

born in the city of York, and that his father's name was Edward Fawkes, a gentleman, a younger brother, who died about thirty years before.[8]

Over the ensuing days, he confessed the history of the scheme. By this time, the mooted uprising in the Midlands had fallen through and Catesby, Percy and the Wright brothers were dead.[11][27][29]

Fawkes and seven co-accused stood trial for high treason at Westminster Hall on 27 January 1605/6. All eight men were convicted and condemned to death.[31] He was hanged, drawn and quartered on 31 January 1605/6 at the Old Palace Yard, next to the parliament buildings in Westminster.[32]

Research Notes

Date of birth

Fraser (1996) says Fawkes' birthdate "is likely to have been 13 April [1570]" because it was "customary" to baptise a child three days after birth. This date is repeated in Wikipedia and other online biographies.[33]

In the 16th century, children were usually baptised soon after birth, generally within one week. The religious policies of Queen Elizabeth encouraged baptisms to be held on Sundays and other holy days.[34] Of the 31 children baptised at St Michael le Belfrey in 1570, 25 (74%) were baptised on Sundays, 5 (16%) on other holy days and 3 (10%) on ordinary days.

Fawkes was baptised on 16 April 1570, a Sunday in the old style Julian calendar. He was likely born in the week before his baptism, but there is no reason to single out 13 April as his probable birthdate. The only certainty is that he was born by 16 April.

Marriage theory

Some unsourced family trees and websites claim Fawkes married Maria Pulleine or Pulleyn in about 1590 in Scotton, Yorkshire, and had a son Thomas Fawkes on 6 February 1591.[35]

The origin of this theory is not known, but It appears to be of recent invention. It can only be traced back to an unsourced user contributed entry to the International Genealogical Index (FamilySearch) in the 1990s. Fraser (1996) refers to this entry and says:

A Pullieine bride would have been plausible for Guy Fawkes, since he was already connected to the family because of his mother's second marriage. However, not one contemporary account at the time of Guy Fawkes' greatest fame—or infamy—refers to him as a married man, nor is there any reference to his wife or child either in England or the Low Countries.[12]

An unsourced user contributed entry to FamilySearch is not a reliable source for an event more than 400 years ago. No reliable source has been found to suggest Fawkes married or had a child. In particular:

  • The parish registers of Farnham, which included the village of Scotton, contain no record of a marriage or baptism. They do, however, record the marriage of Fawkes' two sisters: Elizabeth in 1594 and Ann in 1599.[36]
  • Mary Pulleyn of Scotton, his supposed wife, married Edward Rudd of the nearby village of Killinghall.[37] Herber (1998) hypothesises that Rudd died before 1590 and then Mary married Fawkes as her second husband.[38] Further research has shown this hypothesis to be incorrect. She was still "Mary Rudd" in 1597[39] and the parish registers for Ripley, which included the village of Killinghall, suggest that Edward died in 1602 and Mary remarried soon after to a William Haire.[40][41]
  • There is no mention of a wife or child in the letter written by Fawkes' cousin, Richard Cowling, in about 1599. He wrote: "[Fawkes] hath lefte a prettie livinge here in [England] which his mother being married to an unthriftie husbande since his departure I think hath wastied awaye. Yet she and the reste of our friends are in good health."[22]
  • Pullein (1915) undertook a thorough examination of the Pulleyns of Yorkshire, including connections between the Fawkes and Pulleyn families, but does not mention a marriage between Fawkes and a Pulleyn.[42]

Sources

  1. J W Clay (ed), Dugdale's Visitation of Yorkshire, with Additions, Exeter: William Pollard, 1899, volume 1, page 205 (accessed 16 Feb 2020). His date of execution is incorrectly recorded as 31 January 1606/7, instead of 1605/6. Footnote 1 also raises doubts about the descent of his grandfather, William Fawkes.
  2. Catherine Pullein, The Pulleyns of Yorkshire, Leeds, 1915, page 95 (accessed 18 Feb 2020).
  3. Francis Collins (ed), The Registers of St. Michael le Belfrey, York, Part I, 1565-1653, privately printed, 1899, page 8 (accessed 7 Feb 2020).
  4. "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch (accessed 19 Feb 2020, Guye Fawxe, 16 Apr 1570); citing , index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 496,806, 496,807.
  5. Thomas Gent, The Antient and Modern History of the Loyal Town of Rippon, York, 1733, page 64 (accessed 7 Feb 2020).
  6. Remember, Remember… The Bishopthorpe Connection, Nov 2005 [accessed 19 Feb 2020).
  7. 'A Relation of the Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot' reproduced in Londiniana; or, Reminiscences of the British Metropolis, London, 1829, volume 4, pages 40-49 at page 48 (accessed 7 Feb 2020).
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 David Jardine, A narrative of the Gunpowder Plot, London: John Murray, 1857, page 36 (accessed 7 Feb 2020).
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Katharine M Longley, 'Three Sites in the City of York' in Recusant History, 1973, volume 12, issue 1, pages 1-7. Cambridge University Press, online edn. Oct 2016.
  10. Angelo Raine, Mediaeval York: a topographical survey based on original sources, J Murray, 1955, pages 121-2.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 11.8 Mark Nicholls, ‘Fawkes, Guy (bap. 1570, d. 1606)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009 (accessed 7 Feb 2020).
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Antonia Fraser, The Gunpowder Plot: Terror And Faith In 1605, 1996, chapter 5.
  13. Rev G F Browne, The Recollections of a Bishop, 2nd edn, London, 1915. page 5 (accessed 11 Feb 2020).
  14. Robert Davies, The Fawkes's of York in the sixteenth century, Westminster, 1850, pages 20-25 (accessed 8 Feb 2020).
  15. Francis Collins (ed), The Registers of St. Michael le Belfrey, York, Part I, 1565-1653, privately printed, 1899, page 27 (accessed 8 Feb 2020).
  16. Robert Davies, The Fawkes's of York in the sixteenth century, Westminster, 1850, pages 25-26 (accessed 8 Feb 2020).
  17. 17.0 17.1 Robert Davies, The Fawkes's of York in the sixteenth century, Westminster, 1850, pages 27-30 (accessed 8 Feb 2020).
  18. David Jardine, A narrative of the Gunpowder Plot, London: John Murray, 1857, page 37 (accessed 7 Feb 2020).
  19. Catherine Pullein, The Pulleyns of Yorkshire, Leeds, 1915, page 99 (accessed 17 Feb 2020).
  20. Robert Davies, The Fawkes's of York in the sixteenth century, Westminster, 1850, pages 31-36 (accessed 8 Feb 2020).
  21. 21.0 21.1 David Jardine, Criminal Trials: The Gunpowder Plot, London: Charles Knight, 1835, pages 32-3 (accessed 12 Feb 2020).
  22. 22.0 22.1 H H Spink, The Gunpowder Plot and Lord Mounteagle's Lette, London, 1903, pages 393-5 (accessed 19 Feb 2020).
  23. George Carleton, A thankfull remembrance of Gods mercy, London, 1627, pages 253-5 (accessed 15 Feb 2020).
  24. 24.0 24.1 George Carleton, A thankfull remembrance of Gods mercy, London, 1627, pages 255-7 (accessed 15 Feb 2020).
  25. George Carleton, A thankfull remembrance of Gods mercy, London, 1627, pages 257-9 (accessed 15 Feb 2020).
  26. George Carleton, A thankfull remembrance of Gods mercy, London, 1627, pages 259-66 (accessed 15 Feb 2020).
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 'A Relation of the Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot' reproduced in Londiniana; or, Reminiscences of the British Metropolis, London, 1829, volume 4, pages 40-49 (accessed 16 Feb 2020).
  28. George Carleton, A thankfull remembrance of Gods mercy, London, 1627, pages 267-70 (accessed 15 Feb 2020).
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 George Carleton, A thankfull remembrance of Gods mercy, London, 1627, pages 271-79 (accessed 16 Feb 2020).
  30. Mark Nicholls, Investigating Gunpowder Plot, Manchester University Press, 1991, page 14.
  31. The Gunpowder Treason. Trials of the Conspirators, Northamptonshire, 1867, pages 5-25 (accessed 16 Feb 2020).
  32. The Gunpowder Treason. Trials of the Conspirators, Northamptonshire, 1867, pages 39-40 (accessed 16 Feb 2020).
  33. 'Guy Fawkes', The Gunpowder Plot Society (accessed 7 Feb 2020).
  34. P M Kitson, 'Religious Change and the Timing of Baptism in England, 1538-1750' in The Historical Journal, volume 52, number 2 (June 2009), pages 269-294.
  35. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Pedigree Resource File," database, FamilySearch (accessed 2015-09-23), entry for Maria /Pulleyn/.
  36. Francis Collins, The Registers of Farnham, Yorkshire, 1569-1812, London: privately printed, 1905, page 49 (accessed 25 Feb 2020).
  37. Joseph Foster, The Visitation of Yorkshire: made in the years. 1584/5, by Robert Glover, Somerset herald; to which is added the subsequent Visitation made in 1612 by Edward St George, Noroy King of Arms, London: Privately printed, 1875, pages 242-3.
  38. David Herber, The Marriage of Guy Fawkes and Maria Pulleyn, Gunpowder Plot Society Newsletter, Apr 1998 (accessed 25 Feb 2020),
  39. Wills and Inventories from the Registry at Durham, Part II, London, 1860, pages 337-45 at page 342 (accessed 23 Feb 2020).
  40. Findmypast.com. Yorkshire Burials (database and images). Edwardus Rud, 17 Jan 1601 (accessed 21 Feb 2020); citing North Yorkshire County Record Office. Archive reference: PR/RPL 1/1.
  41. Findmypast.com/ Yorkshire Marriages (database and images). Willmus [blank] and Maria Rud, 4 Oct 1602 (accessed 23 Feb 2020); citing North Yorkshire County Record Office, reference PR/RPL 1/1.
  42. Catherine Pullein, The Pulleyns of Yorkshire, Leeds, 1915, pages 78-9, 94 et seq (accessed 19 Feb 2020).

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Comments: 4

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I just asked a question on G2G about Guy Fawkes, Mary Pulleyn and Thomas Fawkes.

You can read it here.

posted by I Speed
edited by I Speed
I am planning to work on the profile of Guy Fawkes (Fawkes-87) on behalf of the England Project's managed profiles team. I am thinking about fleshing out his biography and will look more closely at the profiles connected to him as his wife and son. Please let me know if you have any other suggestions. Thanks.
posted by I Speed
Hello Pete Hudson, Please add the source for his baptism and image of the Parish Church record.
posted by Peter Roberts
Hi, I manage the Fawkes Name Study (my mother's maiden name was Fawkes). I have the source for Guy Fawkes' baptism, including the image of the Parish Church record. Would you mind if I added these to Guy Fawkes profile; and the Fawkes Name Study category too? I am pre 1500 certified.

Regards

Pete Hudson

posted by Pete Hudson

Guy is 22 degrees from Donald Howard, 19 degrees from Julia Howe and 12 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.