Gunpowder Plot Book
SP14/216/114 - Declaration of Thomas Wintour, 23 November 1605
This is an unsigned copy of the confession in the handwriting of Levinus Munck, Cecil's private
secretary. The names of the examiners are written in by Cecil.
The original confession in Wintour's own hand is in the hands of the current Earl of Salisbury.
Unfortunately, his archivist has refused permission for any of his documents to be published on the
internet. But through examination of microfilms which are available at the British Library, some
interesting comparisons can be drawn between the 'original' and the 'copy'.
Although the copy is dated 23 November, the original is dated 25 November, made more interesting by
the fact that on the original, the date was first put down as 23, then corrected to the 25.
Another interesting fact is that the original was only witnessed by Sir Edward Coke, not by the
long list of notables claimed in this document.
Although this document is a very close copy to the original, some passages in the original,
primarily regarding Lord Monteagle, have been omitted in this version.
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
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 that 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.