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The King's Book - VIII. Thomas Wintour's Confession

23 9br, 1605.

My Most Honourable Lords.

Not out of hope to obtain pardon for speaking - of my temporal part I may say the fault is greater then can be forgiven - nor affecting hereby the title of a good subject for I must redeem my country from as great a danger as I have hazarded the bringing her into, before I can purchase any such opinion; only at your Honours' command, I will briefly set down my own accusation, and how far I have proceeded in this business which I shall the faithfuller do since I see such courses are not pleasing to Almighty God; and that all, or the most material parts have been already confessed.

I remained with my brother in the country for Allhollantide, in the year of our Lord 1603, the first of the King's reign, about which time, Mr. Catesby sent thither, entreating me to come to London, where be and other friends would be glad to see me. I desired him to excuse me, for I found not myself very well disposed, and (which had happened never to me before) returned the messenger without my company. Shortly I received another letter, in any wise to come. At the second summons I presently came up and found him with Mr. John Wright at Lambeth, where he brake with me how necessary it was not to forsake my country (for he knew I had then a resolution to go over), but to deliver her from the servitude in which she remained, or at least to assist her with our uttermost endeavours. I answered that I had often hazarded my life upon far lighter terms, and now would not refuse any good occasion wherein I might do service to the Catholic cause; but, for myself, I knew no mean probable to succeed. He said that be had bethought him of a way at one instant to deliver us from all our bonds, and without any foreign help to replant again the Catholic religion, and withal told me in a word it was to blow up the Parliament House with gunpowder; for, said he, in that place have they done us aII the mischief, and perchance God bath designed that place for their punishment. I wondered at the strangeness of the conceit, and told him that true it was this strake at the root and would breed a confusion fit to beget new alterations, but if it should not take effect (as most of this nature miscarried) the scandal would be so great which the Catholic religion might hereby sustain, as not only our enemies, but our friends also would with good reason condemn us. He told me the nature of the disease required so sharp a remedy, and asked me if I would give my consent. I told him Yes, in this or what else soever, if he resolved upon it, I would venture my life; but I proposed many difficulties, as want of a house, and of one to carry the mine; noise in the working, and such like. His answer was, let us give an attempt, and where it faileth, pass no further. But first, quoth he, because we will leave no peaceable and quiet way untried, you shall go over and inform the Constable of the state of the Catholics here in England, entreating him to solicit his Majesty at his coming hither that the penal laws may be recalled, and we admitted into the rank of his other subjects. Withal, you may bring over some confidant gentleman such as you shall understand best able for this business, and named unto me Mr. Fawkes. Shortly after I passed the sea arid found the Constable at Bergen, near Dunkirk, where, by the help of Mr. Owen, I delivered my message, whose answer was that he had strict command from his master to do all good offices for the Catholics, and for his own part be thought himself bound in conscience so to do, and that no good occasion should be omitted, but spake to him nothing of this matter.

Returning to Dunkirk with Mr. Owen, we had speach whether he thought the Constable would faithfully help us or no. He said he believed nothing less, and that they sought only their own ends, holding small account of Catholics. I told him, that there were many gentlemen in England, who would not forsake their country until they had tried the uttermost, and rather venture their lives than forsake her in this misery; and to add one more to our number as a fit man, both for counsel and execution of whatsoever we should resolve, wished for Mr. Fawkes whom I had heard good commendations of. He told me the gentleman deserved no less, but was at Brussels, and that if he came not, as happily he might, before my departure, he would send him shortly after into England. I went soon after to Ostend, where Sir William Stanley as then was not, but came two days after. I remained with him three or four days, in which time I asked him, if the Catholics in England should do anything to help themselves, whether he thought the Archduke would second them. He answered, No; for all those parts were so desirous of peace with England as they would endure no speach of other enterprise, neither were it fit, said he, to set any project afoot now the peace is upon concluding. I told him there. was no such resolution, and so fell to discourse of other matters until I came to speak of Mr. Fawkes whose company I wished over into England. I asked of his sufficiency in the wars, and told him we should need such as he, if occasion required. He gave very good commendations of him; and as we were thus discoursing and I ready to depart for Nieuport and taking my leave of Sir William, Mr. Fawkes came into our company newly returned and saluted us. This is the gentleman, said Sir William, that you wished for, and so we embraced again. I told him some good friends of his wished his company in England; and that if he pleased to come to Dunkirk, we would have further conference, whither I was then going: so taking my leave of both, I departed. About two days after came Mr. Fawkes to Dunkirk, where I told him that we were upon a resolution to do somewhat in England if the peace with Spain helped us not, but had as yet resolved upon nothing. Such or the like talk we passed at GraveIines, where I lay for a wind, and when it served, came both in one passage to Greenwich, near which place we took a pair of oars, and so came up to London, and came to Mr. Catesby whom we found in his lodging. He welcomed us into England, and asked me what news from the Constable. I told him Good words, but I feared the deeds would not answer. This was the beginning of Easter term and about the midst of the same term (whether sent for by Mr. Catesby, or upon some business of his own) up came Mr. Thomas Percy. The first word he spake (after he came into our company) was Shall we always, gentlemen, talk and never do anything? Mr. Catesby took him aside and had speech about somewhat to be done, so as first we might all take an oath of secrecy, which we resolved within two or three days to do, so as there we met behind St. Clement's, Mr. Catesby, Mr. Percy, Mr. Wright, Mr. Guy Fawkes, and myself, and having, upon a primer given each other the oath of secrecy in a chamber where no other body was, we went after into the next room and heard mass, and received the blessed sacrament upon the same. Then did Mr. Catesby disclose to Mr. Percy, and I together with Jack Wright tell to Mr. Fawkes the business for which they took this oath which they both approved; and then Mr. Percy sent to take the house, which Mr. Catesby, in my absence, had learnt did belong to one Ferris, which with some difficulty in the end he obtained, and became, as Ferris before was, tenant to Whynniard. Mr. Fawkes underwent the name of Mr. Percy's man, calling himself Johnson, because his face was the most unknown, and received the keys of the house, until we heard that the Parliament was adjourned to the 7 of February. At which time we all departed several ways into the country, to meet again at the beginning of Michaelmas term. Before this time also it was thought convenient to have a house that might answer to Mr. Percy's, where we might make provision of powder and wood for the mine which, being there made ready, should in a night be conveyed by boat to the house by the Parliament because we were loth to foil that with often going in and out. There was none that we could devise so fit as Lambeth where Mr. Catesby often lay, and to be keeper thereof, by Mr. Catesby's choice, we received into the number Keyes, as a trusty honest man.

Some fortnight after, towards the beginning of the term, Mr. Fawkes and I came to Mr. Catesby at Moorcrofts, where we agreed that now was time to begin and set things in order for the mine, so as Mr. Fawkes went to London and the next day sent for me to come over to him. When I came, the cause was for that the Scottish Lords were appointed to sit in conference on the Union in Mr. Percy's house. This hindered our beginning, until a fortnight before Christmas, by which time both Mr. Percy and Mr. Wright were come to London, and we against their coming had provided a good part of the powder, so as we all five entered with tools fit to begin our work, having provided ourselves of baked-meats, the less to need sending abroad. We entered late in the night, and were never seen, save only Mr. Percy's man, until Christmaseve, in which time we wrought under a little entry to the wall of the Parliament House, and underpropped it as we went with wood.

Whilst we were together we began to fashion our business, and discourse what we should do after this deed were done. The first question was how we might surprise the next heir; the Prince happily would be at the Parliament with the King his father: how should we then be able to seize on the Duke? This burden Mr. Percy undertook; that by his acquaintance he with another gentleman would enter the chamber without suspicion, and having some dozen others at several doors to expect his coming, and two or three on horseback at the Court gate to receive him, he would undertake (the blow being given, until which he would attend in the Duke's chamber) to carry him safe away, for he supposed most of the Court would be absent, and such as were there not suspecting, or unprovided for any such matter. For the Lady Elizabeth it were easy to surprise her in the country by drawing friends together at a hunting near the Lord Harrington's, and Ashby, Mr. Catesby's house, being not far off was a fit place for preparation.

The next was for money and horses, which if we could provide in any reasonable measure (having the heir apparent) and the first knowledge by four or five days was odds sufficient. Then, what Lords we should save from the Parliament, which was agreed in general as many as we could that were Catholics or so disposed. Next, what foreign princes we should acquaint with this before or join with after. For this point we agreed that first we would not enjoin princes to that secrecy nor oblige them by oath so to be secure of their promise; besides, we know not whether they will approve the project or dislike it, and if they do allow thereof, to prepare before might beget suspicion and not to provide until the business were acted; the same letter that carried news of the thing done might as well entreat their help and furtherance. Spain is too slow in his preparations to hope any good from in the first extremities, and France too near and too dangerous, who with the shipping of Holland we feared of all the world might make away with us. But while we were in the middle of these discourses, we heard that the Parliament should be anew adjourned until after Michaelmas, upon which tidings we broke off both discourse and working until after Christmas. About Candlemas we brought over in a boat the powder which we had provided at Lambeth and layd it in Mr. Percy's house because we were willing to have all our danger in one place. We wrought also another fortnight in the mine agairst the stone wall, which was very hard to beat through, at which time we called in Kit Wright, and near to Easter as we wrought the third time, opportunity was given to hire the cellar, in which we resolved to lay the powder and leave the mine.

Now by reason that the charge of maintaining us all so together, besides the number of several houses which for several uses had been hired, and buying of powder, &c., had lain heavy on Mr. Catesby alone to support, it was necessary for to call in some others to ease his charge, and to that end desired leave that he with Mr. Percy and a third whom they should call might acquaint whom they thought fit and willing to the business, for many, said he, may be content that I should know who would not therefore that all the Company should be acquainted with their names. To this we all agreed.

After this Mr. Fawkes laid into the cellar (which be had newly taken) a thousand of billets and five hundred of faggots, and with that covered the powder, because we might have the house free to suffer anyone to enter that would. Mr. Catesby wished us to consider whether it were not now necessary to send Mr. Fawkes over, both to absent himself for a time as also to acquaint Sir William Stanley and Mr. Owen with this matter. We agreed that he should; provided that he gave it them with the same oath that we had taken before, viz., to keep it secret from all the world. The reason why we desired Sir William Stanley should be acquainted herewith was to have him with us so soon as be could, and, for Mr. Owen, be might hold good correspondency after with foreign princes. So Mr. Fawkes departed about Easter for Flanders and returned the later end of August. He told me that when he arrived at Brussels, Sir William Stanley was not returned from Spain, so as he uttered the matter only to Owen, who seemed well pleased with the business, but told him that surely Sir William would not be acquainted with any plot as having business now afoot in the Court of England, but he himself would be always ready to tell it him and send him away so soon as it were done.

About this time did Mr. Percy and Mr. Catesby meet at the Bath where they agreed that the company being yet but few, Mr. Catesby should have the others' authority to call in whom he thought best, by which authority he called in after Sir Everard Digby, though at what time I know not, and last of all Mr. Francis Tresham. The first promised, as I heard Mr. Catesby say, fifteen hundred pounds. Mr. Percy himself promised all that he could get of the Earl of Northumberland's rent, and to provide many galloping horses, his number was ten. Meanwhile Mr. Fawkes and I myself alone bought some new powder, as suspecting the first to be dank, and conveyed it into the cellar and set it in order as we resolved it should stand. Then was the Parliament anew prorogued until the 5 of November; so as we all went down until some ten days before. When Mr. Catesby came up with Mr. Fawkes to a house by Enfield Chase called White Webbs, whither I came to them, and Mr. Catesby willed me to inquire whether the young Prince came to Parliament, I told him that his Grace thought not to be there. Then must we have our horses, said Mr. Catesby, beyond the water ,and provision of more company to surprise the Prince and leave the Duke alone. Two days after, being Sunday at night, in came one to my chamber and told me that a letter had been given to my Lord Monteagle to this effect, that he wished his lordship's absence from the Parliament because a blow would there be given, which letter he presently carried to my Lord of Salisbury. On the morrow I went to White Webbs and told it to Mr. Catesby, assuring him withal that the matter was disclosed and wishing him in any wise to forsake his country. He told me he would see further as yet and resolved to send Mr. Fawkes to try the uttermost, protesting if the part belonged to myself he would try the same adventure. On Wednesday Mr. Fawkes went and returned at night, of which we were very glad. Thursday I came to London, and Friday Mr. Catesby, Mr. Tresham and I met at Barnet, where we questioned how this letter should be sent to my Lord Monteagle, but could not conceive, for Mr. Tresham forsware it, whom we only suspected. On Saturday night I met Mr. Tresham again in Lincoln's Inn Walks, where be told such speeches that my Lord of Salisbury should use to the King, as I gave it lost the second time, and repeated the same to Mr. Catesby, who hereupon was resolved to be gone, but stayed to have Mr. Percy come up whose consent herein we wanted. On Sunday night came Mr. Percy, and no 'Nay,' but would abide the uttermost trial.

This suspicion of all hands put us into such confusion as Mr. Catesby resolved to go down into the country the Monday that Mr. Percy went to Sion and Mr. Percy resolved to follow the same night or early the next morning. About five o'clock being Tuesday came the younger Wright to my chamber and told me that a nobleman called the Lord Monteagle, saying "Rise and come along to Essex House, for I am going to call up my Lord of Northumberland," saying withal 'the matter is discovered.' "Go back Mr. Wright," quoth I, "and learn what you can at Essex Gate." Shortly he returned and said, "Surely all is lost, for Leyton is got on horseback at Essex door, and as he parted, he asked if their Lordship's would have any more with him, and being answered "No," is rode as fast up Fleet Street as he can ride." "Go you then," quoth I, "to Mr. Percy, for sure it is for him they seek, and bid him begone: I will stay and see the uttermost." Then I went to the Court gates, and found them straitly guarded so as nobody could enter. From thence I went down towards the Parliament House, and in the middle of King's Street found the guard standing that would not let me pass, and as I returned, I heard one say, "There is a treason discovered in which the King and the Lords shall have been blown up," so then I was fully satisfied that all was known, and went to the stable where my gelding stood, and rode into the country. Mr. Catesby had appointed our meeting at Dunchurch, but I could not overtake them until I came to my brother's which was Wednesday night. On Thursday we took the armour at my Lord Windsor's, and went that night to one Stephen Littleton's house, where the next day, being Friday, as I was early abroad to discover, my man came to me and said that a heavy mischance had severed all the company, for that Mr. Catesby, Mr. Rokewood and Mr. Grant were burnt with gunpowder, upon which sight the rest dispersed. Mr. Littleton wished me to fly and so would he. I told him I would first see the body of my friend and bury him, whatsoever befel me. When I came I, found Mr. Catesby reasonable well, Mr. Percy, both the Wrights, Mr. Rokewood and Mr. Grant. I asked them what they resolved to do. They answered "We mean here to die." I said again I would take such part as they did. About eleven of the clock came the company to beset the house, and as I walked into the court was shot into the shoulder, which lost me the use of my arm. The next shot was the elder Wright struck dead ; after him the younger Mr. Wright, and fourthly Ambrose Rokewood. Then, said Mr. Catesby to me (standing before the door they were to enter), "Stand by, Mr. Tom, and we will die together." "Sir," quoth I, "I have lost the use of my right arm and I fear that will cause me to be taken." So as we stood close together Mr. Catesby, Mr. Percy and myself, they two were shot (as far as I could guess, with one bullet), and then the company entered upon me, hurt me in the belly with a pike and gave me other wounds, until one came behind and caught hold of both my arms, and so I remain, Your &c.

Taken before us

Nottingham, Suffolk, Northampton, Salisbury, Mar, Dunbar, Popham.

EDW. COKE,
W. WAAD.

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