Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 1997-11 > 0878747806
From: "WILLIAM JOHN SHEPHERD, SR." <>
Subject: This Day In Scottish History
Date: Wed, 05 Nov 1997 11:36:46 -0500 (EST)
5 November 1605 - GUNPOWDER PLOT Exposed - Following the Protestant
Reformation in England, Roman Catholics were not unnaturally suspected as
agents working against the new order. Accordingly, many acts and restrictions
against them were introduced and guilty and innocent suffered alike. Before
ascending to the English throne in 1603, which was left vacant by the childless
Elizabeth I, King James VI of Scotland promised relief to English Catholics.
This was no doubt induced by his desire to appease various elements which might
oppose his succession and probably reflected the delicate nature of his
relationship with Scottish Catholics who were still strong in many parts of the
After arriving in England and realizing how weak the Catholic
element was in actuality, James VI of Scotland, now also known as James I of
England, went back on his word. Not only was relief to Catholics not
forthcoming, but in many instances, the persecution increased. This incensed
a group of English Catholic gentlemen, some thirteen in number, who were led by
Robert Catesby and Guy Fawkes, to take drastic action. Most of them had seen
military service in the Dutch wars as members of the Spanish army and were
largely influenced by Jesuit teaching. Organized in 1604, they arranged by
November of 1605 to tunnel underneath the Parliament building at Westminister
to plant kegs of gunpowder in order to blow King and parliament to kingdom
At the last minute, one of the conspirators revealed the plot to the
authorities. It is unclear whether he lost his nerve or had been a government
agent all along. Whatever his motivation, a frantic search of the building
uncovered the gunpowder and the conspirators sought to make their escape.
They attempted an epic flight to reach Wales but only made it as far as
Worcestershire when, in a supreme act of poetic justice, their gunpowder
store exploded, wounding many of them. This devastating event seemed to be
an act of God's judgement against them, yet they decided to sell their lives
dearly to the English troops which soon confronted them. They defended
themselves bravely against heavy odds but four of them, including Catesby,
were killed and the rest wounded and captured. After an almost endless series
of examiniation, the survivors were put on trial on 27 January 1606 and
executed for treason on 31 January 1606.
This was probably the most severe blow suffered by English Catholics
between the reigns of Bloody Mary (1553-1558) and James VII and II (1685-1688).
Even the most extreme rhetoric of the threat posed by Roman Catholicism
appeared to be confirmed to the English public and anti-Catholic passion
remained a determining factor in the subsequent history of the Stuart monarchy.
5 November 1787 - Sir JOHN RICHARDSON, Arctic explorer and writer on
several natural sciences, born in Dumfries.
SOURCES: John Wilson McCoy, George Macaulay Trevelyan, and the CATHOLIC
|This Day In Scottish History by "WILLIAM JOHN SHEPHERD, SR." <>|