Guy Fawkes

Gunpowder Plot
Guy Fawkes
Black-and-white drawing
George Cruikshank's illustration of Guy Fawkes, published in William Harrison Ainsworth's 1840 novel Guy Fawkes
ParentsEdward Fawkes (father)
Edith (née Blake or Jackson) (mother)
Born13 April 1570 (presumed)
York, England
Alias(es)Guido Fawkes, John Johnson
OccupationSoldier, alférez
Enlisted20 May 1604
Captured5 November 1605
Conviction(s)High treason
PenaltyHanged, drawn and quartered
Died31 January 1606 (aged 35)
Westminster, London, England

Guy Fawkes (s/; 13 April 1570 – 31 January 1606),[a] also known as Guido Fawkes while fighting for the Spanish, was a member of a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. He was born and educated in York; his father died when Fawkes was eight years old, after which his mother married a recusant Catholic.

Fawkes converted to Catholicism and left for mainland Europe, where he fought for Catholic Spain in the Eighty Years' War against Protestant Dutch reformers in the Low Countries. He travelled to Spain to seek support for a Catholic rebellion in England without success. He later met Thomas Wintour, with whom he returned to England. Wintour introduced him to Robert Catesby, who planned to assassinate King James I and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne. The plotters leased an undercroft beneath the House of Lords; Fawkes was placed in charge of the gunpowder which they stockpiled there. The authorities were prompted by an anonymous letter to search Westminster Palace during the early hours of 5 November, and they found Fawkes guarding the explosives. He was questioned and tortured over the next few days and confessed to wanting to blow up the House of Lords.

Immediately before his execution on 31 January, Fawkes fell from the scaffold where he was to be hanged and broke his neck, thus avoiding the agony of being hanged, drawn and quartered. He became synonymous with the Gunpowder Plot, the failure of which has been commemorated in the UK as Guy Fawkes Night since 5 November 1605, when his effigy is traditionally burned on a bonfire, commonly accompanied by fireworks.

Early life


Fawkes was baptised at the church of St Michael le Belfrey, York next to York Minster (seen at left).

Guy Fawkes was born in 1570 in Stonegate, York. He was the second of four children born to Edward Fawkes, a proctor and an advocate of the consistory court at York,[b] and his wife, Edith.[c] Guy's parents were regular communicants of the Church of England, as were his paternal grandparents; his grandmother, born Ellen Harrington, was the daughter of a prominent merchant, who served as Lord Mayor of York in 1536.[4] Guy's mother's family were recusant Catholics, and his cousin, Richard Cowling, became a Jesuit priest.[5] Guy was an uncommon name in England, but may have been popular in York on account of a local notable, Sir Guy Fairfax of Steeton.[6]

The date of Fawkes's birth is unknown, but he was baptised in the church of St Michael le Belfrey, York on 16 April. As the customary gap between birth and baptism was three days, he was probably born about 13 April.[5] In 1568, Edith had given birth to a daughter named Anne, but the child died aged about seven weeks, in November that year. She bore two more children after Guy: Anne (b. 1572), and Elizabeth (b. 1575). Both were married, in 1599 and 1594 respectively.[6][7]

In 1579, when Guy was eight years old, his father died. His mother remarried several years later, to the Catholic Dionis Baynbrigge (or Denis Bainbridge) of Scotton, Harrogate. Fawkes may have become a Catholic through the Baynbrigge family's recusant tendencies, and also the Catholic branches of the Pulleyn and Percy families of Scotton,[8] but also from his time at St. Peter's School in York. A governor of the school had spent about 20 years in prison for recusancy, and its headmaster, John Pulleyn, came from a family of noted Yorkshire recusants, the Pulleyns of Blubberhouses. In her 1915 work The Pulleynes of Yorkshire, author Catharine Pullein suggested that Fawkes's Catholic education came from his Harrington relatives, who were known for harbouring priests, one of whom later accompanied Fawkes to Flanders in 1592–1593.[9] Fawkes's fellow students included John Wright and his brother Christopher (both later involved with Fawkes in the Gunpowder Plot) and Oswald Tesimond, Edward Oldcorne and Robert Middleton, who became priests (the latter executed in 1601).[10]

After leaving school Fawkes entered the service of Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montagu. The Viscount took a dislike to Fawkes and after a short time dismissed him; he was subsequently employed by Anthony-Maria Browne, 2nd Viscount Montagu, who succeeded his grandfather at the age of 18.[11] At least one source claims that Fawkes married and had a son, but no known contemporary accounts confirm this.[12][d]

Military career

In October 1591 Fawkes sold the estate in Clifton in York that he had inherited from his father.[e] He travelled to the continent to fight in the Eighty Years War for Catholic Spain against the new Dutch Republic and, from 1595 until the Peace of Vervins in 1598, France. Although England was not by then engaged in land operations against Spain, the two countries were still at war, and the Spanish Armada of 1588 was only five years in the past. He joined Sir William Stanley, an English Catholic and veteran commander in his mid-fifties who had raised an army in Ireland to fight in Leicester's expedition to the Netherlands. Stanley had been held in high regard by Elizabeth I, but following his surrender of Deventer to the Spanish in 1587 he, and most of his troops, had switched sides to serve Spain. Fawkes became an alférez or junior officer, fought well at the siege of Calais in 1596, and by 1603 had been recommended for a captaincy.[3] That year, he travelled to Spain to seek support for a Catholic rebellion in England. He used the occasion to adopt the Italian version of his name, Guido, and in his memorandum described James I (who became king of England that year) as "a heretic", who intended "to have all of the Papist sect driven out of England." He denounced Scotland, and the King's favourites among the Scottish nobles, writing "it will not be possible to reconcile these two nations, as they are, for very long".[13] Although he was received politely, the court of Philip III was unwilling to offer him any support.[14]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Guy Fawkes
العربية: جاي فوكس
asturianu: Guy Fawkes
azərbaycanca: Qay Foks
বাংলা: গাই ফক্স
беларуская: Гай Фокс
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Гай Фокс
български: Гай Фокс
Boarisch: Guy Fawkes
brezhoneg: Guy Fawkes
català: Guy Fawkes
čeština: Guy Fawkes
Cymraeg: Guto Ffowc
dansk: Guy Fawkes
Deutsch: Guy Fawkes
eesti: Guy Fawkes
Ελληνικά: Γκάι Φωκς
español: Guy Fawkes
Esperanto: Guy Fawkes
euskara: Guy Fawkes
فارسی: گای فاکس
français: Guy Fawkes
Gaeilge: Guy Fawkes
galego: Guy Fawkes
한국어: 가이 포크스
հայերեն: Գայ Ֆոքս
hrvatski: Guy Fawkes
Bahasa Indonesia: Guy Fawkes
íslenska: Guy Fawkes
italiano: Guy Fawkes
עברית: גאי פוקס
Latina: Guido Fawkes
latviešu: Gajs Fokss
Lëtzebuergesch: Guy Fawkes
lietuvių: Guy Fawkes
magyar: Guy Fawkes
македонски: Гај Фокс
മലയാളം: ഗൈ ഫൗക്സ്
مصرى: جاى فوكس
Bahasa Melayu: Guy Fawkes
монгол: Гаи Фоокс
Nederlands: Guy Fawkes
norsk: Guy Fawkes
norsk nynorsk: Guy Fawkes
polski: Guy Fawkes
português: Guy Fawkes
română: Guy Fawkes
русский: Фокс, Гай
Scots: Guy Fawkes
shqip: Guy Fawkes
Simple English: Guy Fawkes
slovenčina: Guy Fawkes
slovenščina: Guy Fawkes
ślůnski: Guy Fawkes
српски / srpski: Гај Фокс
suomi: Guy Fawkes
svenska: Guy Fawkes
தமிழ்: கை பாக்சு
Türkçe: Guy Fawkes
українська: Ґай Фокс
Tiếng Việt: Guy Fawkes