27th January 1606. The Plot which nearly changed the course of history.
The intention of the gunpowder plotters was to put a puppet, the Protestant, Princes Elizabeth, second daughter of James I, on to the throne and then marrying her to a Catholic.(1)
On the demise of the Stuarts in 1714, Elizabeth’s grandson became the first of the Hanoverians, George I. So if the Plot had succeeded, it would have changed the course history.
Elizabeth however, by later marriage, became the ‘Winter Queen’ of Bohemia.(2)
However one of the ‘Great Ifs’ of history became grim reality, as it was Today in 1606 that the trial of the eight plot survivors, (Robert Catesby and Thomas Percy had been killed earlier at Holbeach House, Staffordshire), began, with the ‘King and Family hidden from view‘.
The Plot was described as: ‘A matter of treason… of such horror, and monstrous nature, that before now the Tongue of man never delivered…nor the malice of Hellish or Earthly Devil ever practised’.(3)
The Attorney-General Sir Edward Coke, equally dramatic, remarked: ‘Lord what a wind, what a fire, what a motion and commotion of earth and air would there have been’.
Presiding was Sir John Popham (Lord Chief Justice), Sir Thomas Fleming, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer (4), along with two justices Sir Thomas Walmesly and Sir Peter Warburton, sitting as Justices of Common Pleas.
The results were a foregone conclusion as on a cold January 30th 1606, after being convicted of High Treason, Everard Digby, Robert Wintour, John Grant, Thomas Bates were taken to St. Paul’s Churchyard and Hanged Drawn and Quartered.
The following day Thomas Wintour, Ambrose Rockwood (Rochewood) of (Clopton House, Warwickshire), Robert Keyes and Guy Fawkes, were likewise despatched in Old Palace Yard, Westminster.(5)
Another conspirator Stephen Littleton was executed at Stafford, whilst his cousin Humphrey Littleton, suffered the same fate at Red Hill near Worcester.
Of the Jesuit priests involved, Edward Oldcorne (Oldcorn, alias Hall) who was priest to Digby, was executed at Red Hill on 7th April. Fr. Garnet was executed at St Paul’s Churchyard on 3rd May, 1606, whilst two priests, Fathers Gerard and Tesimond, were lucky enough to escape abroad.
(1) The conspirators had met at the Dog and Duck Inn in the Strand, London.
(2) Elizabeth (1596-1662) went on to marry Frederick V, Elector Palatine of Bohemia-the Winter King-as he only reigned for one winter.
(3) Spoken by His Majesty’s Serjeant-at-Law, Sir Edward Philips (later Master of the Rolls) at the opening of the indictment against the plotters.
(4) Sir Thomas Fleming acquired North Stoneham Park from Sir Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton in 1599, the family holding the ancient Saxon estate until the 1950s.
Fleming (April 1544 to 7th August 1613) succeeded Coke as Solicitor General. He was ‘accused’ at Fawkes’ trial, of attempting to ‘look wise and saying nothing’.
(5) Ambrose Rochewood was to inscribe his name on the wall of the Martin Tower in the Tower of London.
Ref: wikipedia.org/elizabeth_stuart_queen-of_bohemia. Pic Ref.
Ref Antonia Fraser The Gunpowder Plot, 2005, Phoenix.
Ref: W.H.D. Adams 1862, OUP pp.181-3, Nelson Hand Book to the Isle of Wight.
Ref: 1998 Britannia Internet Magazine on Hagley.
Ref: ‘Do not pass go from Old Kent Road-Mayfair‘. London Yellow Jersey Press, p. 197, Tim Moore 2005. Re Strand, London.