The Gunpowder Plot - the conspirators

The tradition of Bonfire Night grew out of the actions of just a few men in 1605. The gang, which included Guy Fawkes, devised a daring plan to kill King James I. But who were they and what roles did they play?

The Gunpowder Plot - the conspirators


Who's who?

King James I. The target King of England and Scotland at the time of the plotDuring his reign he'd faced a number of kidnap attempts and plots against him. James replaced Queen Elizabeth I on the throne in 1603.

Robert Catesby, the ringleader. Catesby organised the plot and recruited the main conspirators. No stranger to political campaigns against the monarch, Catesby had previously been arrested and imprisoned because he was believed to be a threat to Queen Elizabeth I.

Guy Fawkes, the most famous plotter. Guy Fawkes was a soldier with excellent military knowledge and skill. He was also known as 'Guido', a nickname he picked up while fighting in the Spanish army. He was recruited especially for his knowledge of explosives.

Thomas Winter, recruiter and chief digger. Winter introduced Guy Fawkes to the conspiracy and helped recruit others at various times during the plot. He was also in charge of digging a secret tunnel intended for transporting the deadly gunpowder.

Thomas Percy, a source of funds. Percy leased a house for the plotters near to the Houses of Parliament. He also rented a cellar directly below the House of Lords where gunpowder could be planted. A skilled swordsman, he had a dangerous reputation.

John Wright, friend of Catesby. One of the first to join the conspiracy, Wright had been arrested on several occasions for being a threat to national security.

Francis Tresham, half-hearted plotter? Tresham joined the plot late in September 1605. It seems he was not initially enthusiastic about the plot and offered Robert Catesby money to abandon it before he was persuaded to join them.

Lord Monteagle, friend of the king. Lord Monteagle was married to the sister of one of the plotters. His connection to the king's inner circle proved important in the unravelling of the Gunpowder Plot.

Sir Thomas Knyvett, Justice of Westminster. Sir Thomas discovered the gunpowder meant for James I.

More in this section

The Gunpowder Plot -what happened?