First they hired the house at Westminster, of one Ferres, and having his house they sought then to make a mine under the Upper House of Parliament.”
Continuing The Gunpowder Plot,
our selection from What the Gunpowder Plot Was by Samuel R. Gardiner published in 1897. The selection is presented in five easy 5 minute installments. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
Previously in The Gunpowder Plot.
Place: House of Lords, London
That Fawkes had already been threatened with torture is known, and it may easily be imagined that the threats had been redoubled after this last unsatisfactory acknowledgment. On the morning of the 8th, however, Waad, who was employed to worm out his secrets, reported that little was to be expected. “I find this fellow,” he wrote, “who this day is in a most stubborn and perverse humor, as dogged as if he were possessed. Yester-night I had persuaded him to set down a clear narration of all his wicked plots from the first entering to the same, to the end they pretended, with the discourses and projects that were thought upon amongst them, which he undertook [to do] and craved time this night to bethink him the better; but this morning he hath changed his mind and is [so] sullen and obstinate as there is no dealing with him.”
The sight of the examiners, together with the sight of the rack,  changed Fawkes’ mind to some extent. He was resolved that nothing but actual torture should wring from him the names of his fellow-plotters, who so far as was known in London were still at large.  He prepared himself, however, to reveal the secrets of the plot so far as was consistent with the concealment of the names of those concerned in it. His fifth examination, on the 8th, the last before the one taken under torture on the 9th, gives to the inquirer into the reality of the plot all that he wants to know.
[11: In The King’s Book it is stated that Fawkes was shown the rack, but never racked. Probably the torture used on the 9th was that of the manacles, or hanging up by the wrists or thumbs.]
[12: The principal ones were either killed or taken at Holbeche on that very day.]
“He confesseth,” so the tale begins, “that a practice was first broken unto him against his majesty for the Catholic cause, and not invented or propounded by himself, and this was first propounded unto him about Easter last was twelvemonth, beyond the seas in the Low Countries, by an English layman,  and that Englishman came over with him in his company into England, and they two and three more  were the first five mentioned in the former examination. And they five resolving to do somewhat for the Catholic cause (a vow being first taken by all of them for secrecy), one of the other three  propounded to perform it with powder, and resolved that the place should be (where this action should be performed and justice done) in or near the place of the sitting of the Parliament, wherein Religion had been unjustly suppressed. This being resolved, the manner of it was as followeth:
“First they hired the house at Westminster, of one Ferres, and having his house they sought then to make a mine under the Upper House of Parliament, and they began to make the mine in or about the 11 of December, and they five first entered into the works, and soone after took another  to them, having first sworn him and taken the sacrament for secrecy; and when they came to the wall (that was about three yards thick) and found it a matter of great difficulty, they took to them another in like manner, with oath and sacrament as aforesaid;  all which seven were gentlemen of name and blood, and not any was employed in or about this action (no, not so much as in digging and mining) that was not a gentleman.
[13: Thomas Winter.]
[14: Catesby, Percy, and John Wright.]
 I.e., Catesby. In a copy forwarded to Edmondes by Salisbury (Stowe MSS. 168, fol. 223) the copyist had originally written “three or four more,” which is altered to “three.”]
[16: Christopher Wright.]
[17: Robert Winter.]
“And having wrought to the wall before Christmas, they ceased until after the holidays, and the day before Christmas (having a mass of earth that came out of the mine) they carried it into the garden of the said house, and after Christmas they wrought the wall till Candlemas, and wrought the wall half through; and saith that all the time while the other wrought, he stood as sentinel, to decry any man that came near; and when any man came near to the place, upon warning given by him they ceased until they had notice to proceed from him; and sayeth that they seven all lay in the house, and had shot and powder, and they all resolved to die in that place, before they yielded or were taken.
“And, as they were working, they heard a rushing in the cellar, which grew by one Bright’s selling of his coals, whereupon this examinant, fearing they had been discovered, went into the cellar and viewed the cellar, and perceiving the commodity thereof for their purpose, and understanding how it would be letten, his master, Mr. Percy, hired the cellar for a year for £4 rent; and confesseth that after Christmas twenty barrels of powder were brought by themselves to a house, which they had on the bank side in hampers, and from that house removed the powder to the said house near the Upper House of Parliament; and, presently, upon hiring the cellar they themselves removed the powder into the cellar, and covered the same with fagots which they had before laid into the cellar.
[18: This is an obvious mistake, as the widow Skinner was not at this time married to Bright, but one just as likely to be made by Fawkes himself as by his examiners.]
“After, about Easter, he went into the Low Countries (as he before hath declared in his former examination) and that the true purpose of his going over was, lest, being a dangerous man, he should be known and suspected, and in the meantime he left the key of the cellar with Mr. Percy, who in his absence caused more billets to be laid into the cellar, as in his former examination he confessed, and returned about the end of August, or the beginning of September, and went again to the said house, near to the said cellar, and received the key of the cellar again of one of the five,  and then they brought in five or six barrels of powder more into the cellar, which also they covered with billets, saving four little barrels covered with fagots, and then this examinant went into the country about the end of September.
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