Members of the Throckmorton family from Coughton Court (See our earlier post) were involved in the Gunpowder plot, along with other Catholic families in the Midlands. The ‘Powder Treason’, or Gunpowder Plot, of 1605 was a failed assassination attempt by a group of English Catholics belonging to the gentry, against King James I of England and VI of Scotland.
A single blow
The plot was intended to kill the king and his family, and most of the Protestant aristocracy in a single blow, by blowing up the Houses of Parliament during the State Opening on 5 November 1605. The conspirators had also planned to kidnap the royal children, and lead a popular revolt in the Midlands – before installing Princess Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of King James, a child at the time, on the throne. She was to be Queen Elizabeth II, a Catholic Queen – having been converted by her guardians. This was not to be – however our current Queen Elizabeth II is directly descended from this Princess Elizabeth rather than her brother Charles I who took the throne after James I.
Coughton – A cold November morning in 1605
Early in the morning of the 6th November In the cold early hours of November 6th, Thomas Bates, servant to Robert Catesby, who had been overseeing the plot from May 1604, rode over the moat bridge of Coughton Court. He climbed the stairs to the Drawing Room where a group of people, all closely involved in the then illegal Catholic community, were waiting for news.
There were two Jesuit priests – Father Henry Garnet, who had celebrated a clandestine mass for the Feast of All Saints in the house just a few days before, and Father Oswald Tesimond, the confessor to Robert Catesby. Nicholas Owen, the priest-hide builder, was also present. Thomas Bates told them that the plot had failed, and that the conspirators were now running for their lives.
A warning ignored
Father Garnet had warned against the plot from the beginning on a matter of principle, and had said that the failure of the plan could only mean extreme hardship for the already beleaguered Catholic community. Despite his opposition Father Garnet was implicated in the Plot and later captured at Hindlip House along with Nicholas Owen. Father Garnet was executed, whilst Nicholas Owen died under torture in the Tower – without ever revealing the secrets of the hides he had built at Coughton, Harvington and elsewhere.