Who Was Guy Fawkes?

Have you ever wanted to know Who Was Guy Fawkes? Was he responsible for the gunpowder plot? Where was he born? You can read the answer here.  We detail his early life and how he become such an iconic man.

Who Was Guy Fawkes?

Guy Fawkes

A conspirator named Guy Fawkes agreed to light the fuse, to help rid of King James and his lords. Consequently after failing at carrying out the job, On 5 November every year, the effigy of him is burned on bonfires across England, as a reminder.

Guy Fawkes PortraitBorn in April 1570 in Stonegate, York, he went to St. Peter’s school, Fawkes family where Protestants, keeping with the religious practice in England for its time, his grandparents who refused to go to services, were Catholics recusants.

Roughly around when he was eight, his father died, His mother now widowed, remarried to a Catholic. Some would say this could have been the seed of Fawkes to carry out his actions in the gunpowder plot.


Fawkes was thought to have left England for the northern portion of Belgium, Flanders, in 1593 or 1594. From here, he joined the Spanish Army, that was under the command of the Archduke Albert of Austria, who became governor of the Netherlands. Senior officers were very impressed with him, they let him hold a position of command during The Siege of Calais of 1596.

He was described at this time as a man “of excellent good natural parts, very resolute and universally learned”, and was “sought by all the most distinguished in the Archduke’s camp for nobility and virtue”.

Throughout his time as being a young officer, he gained great fame from other soldiers and officers and he adopted the name, Guido. Fawkes served many missions, and gain a lot of experience and during his service.

Gunpowder Plot


Fawkes was granted leave for Spain, he wanted to inform Philip III as to the status of Catholics in England. It is thought, while on this mission, he met up with Christopher Wright, and they could have both spent time planning for a Spanish invasion of England. For such support from the Spanish was very slim, the Spanish society still had deep scars from the disaster of the 1588 Spanish Armada.

Leaving the mission to Brussels, This is where Fawkes was told Thomas Wintour (Winter) had been asking for him. From the torture confession, it was herd that Fawkes was informed in Brussels of the intention to kill James I by Wintour.


In May, he had met up with the rest of the conspirators. It was believed in the Duck and Drake inn in the Strand in London, they all made an oath towards the Gunpowder Plot. It was also noted the Jesuit priest, John Gerard, declare holy the oath in another room at the inn.


Roughly in March, the plotters hired a house next to the parliament cellars, and it was on the advice from Fawkes to store a good 36 barrels of gunpowder under the rubble of iron bars and faggots. It was also noted, he may have returned to let others know of the progress in Flanders, in August he may have returned to check on the progress.

18th of October

The conspirators meet to discuss the possibility of saving some Catholics from the deadly explosion. Possibly, this is what led to the ‘Monteagle Letter’ sent to William Parker, the 4th Baron Monteagle on October 26th. It was highly stated some of the conspirators was very concerned about the letter, but it was agreed that it did not have much threat to the plans.

30th of October

Fawkes was always checking regularly on the barrels making sure it was all correct at the time, he could possibly be making sure the full barrels would have an optimum point towards the roof of the cellars.

3rd of November

Two days before the deadline, All the conspirators except Fawkes met in London, a secret final meeting to proceed with plans of what will happen after the explosion. It was agreed they all would flee from London, and Fawkes would make his way to Flanders, soon as he set the fuse.

4th of November

Midnight arrived, the anonymous letter proved to be a real threat, Lord Chamberlain, Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk lead the search of parliament, including the cellars, they found Guy Fawkes with the barrels, on a search after arresting him, they found a slow match and touchwood.

November 5th

During this day, Fawkes was given a chance to explain is actions, he was even brought to James I, who asked him why he wanted to kill him. Even though Fawkes claimed his name was ‘John Johnson’ he replied back to James with a set voice “to blow a Scotsman back to Scotland”.

6th of November

King James I, ordered for ‘John Johnson’ to be tortured from the “gentler tortures” to the “worst”. James own words “et sic per gradus ad ima tenditur”. He told the torturers “God speede youre worke.” He was moved to the tower of London, a list of questions was highlighted from The King, the room they moved him to, is formally known now as Guy Fawkes Room.

Confession to Trial

November 7th, With Fawkes not able to handle any more torture, he confessed, to almost everything, his real name, “Guy Fawkes”, and he also revealed a handful of the plotters names. the following day, November 8th he detailed how to the plot would progress, by November 9th he finished off by naming all of them.

The trial date was set for January 27th, 1606, for, four days, there was no question as to who was guilty and what their sentence would be they were ordered to be to be hung, drawn and quartered. Friday 31st, 1606, Fawkes and the arrested party was taken to, Old Palace Yard in Westminster.

Fawkes was meant to have been the very last of the conspirators to be executed, it is now noted he escape the mutuality of this, by jumping off the scaffolding just before his turn and breaking his neck in the process while killing himself in this way, they still carried out the drawing and quartering.

He has gone down in history, as being a man who failed the greatest terror threat the UK had ever witness, he would have brought down a structured monarchy by Gunpowder and changed how we view the government today.

The tradition ever since on November 5th, the nation of England, were asked to “remember, remember, the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot.” By building huge bonfires, and building Effigies of Guy Fawkes burn it, Further to this, people burned the pope effigy to remind of the Catholics role in the plot. A traditional guy effigy build, Is of straw or paper, stuffed inside unwanted clothes and a paper mashed face, but a modern take is with the v mask.

See also

Further Reading:

Bonfire Night Traditions