The Gunpowder Plot (1603-1606) Timeline

Gunpowder PlotThis timeline details the history of the Gunpowder Plot 1603 – 1606


1603 (24th March)
King James VI of Scotland succeeded to the English throne as King James I after Elizabeth I died. James I was a committed Protestant but his mother was Catholic Mary Queen of Scots who had been executed in 1587. Catholics in England hoped this would make the new king more tolerant of Catholics than Elizabeth had been.
1603 (after 24th March)
Catholics were disappointed to find that James I did not end the persecution of Catholics.
1603 (after 24th March)
Robert Catesby helped to organise a mission to Philip III of Spain and Thomas Wintour was selected as emissary to try to persuade Philip to invade England and restore Catholicism. Philip, did not want war and stated that he would rather make peace with the new king.
1604 (early)
Robert Catesby hatched a plot to assassinate King James I by blowing up the Houses of Parliament on the day that he would open Parliament. He would then foment a revolt in the Midlands, capture James I’s daughter, Elizabeth and install her as a Catholic Queen.
1604 (February)
Robert Catesby told Thomas Wintour and John Wright his plan. Wright had fought with Catesby during the Earl of Essex’s Rebellion in 1601 and was known to be an excellent swordsman. Both men agreed to join the conspiracy.
1604 (19th February)
James was furious to discover that the Pope had sent a rosary to his wife, Queen Anne.
1604 (22nd February)
James ordered all Jesuits and Catholic priests to leave the country immediately.
1604 (19th March)
James I made a speech to Parliament in which he declared that although he desired peace and an end to religious persecution he wished the country to remain Protestant. This sent a clear message that Catholicism would not be restored while he was monarch.
1604 (April)
Thomas Wintour went to Flanders, which was owned by Spain, to seek Spanish support. Although his mission failed he found a Catholic explosives expert, Guido Fawkes, who was willing to join the conspiracy and brought him to England.
1604 (early May)
Thomas Percy, friend of Robert Catesby and John Wright’s brother-in-law, was recruited to join the conspiracy.
1604 (20th May)
Robert Catesby, Thomas Percy, John Wright, Thomas Wintour and Guido Fawkes held their first meeting in the Duck and Drake Inn, Strand, London, where they discussed their plan. Afterwards they returned to their homes.
1604 (9th June)
Thomas Percy was appointed as one of the King’s mounted bodyguards. Needing a base in London, he rented a house near to Parliament. Guido Fawkes, who was using the name John Johnson, took charge of the property posing as Percy’s manservant.
1604 (7th July)
Parliament was adjourned.
1604 (October)
The conspirators returned to London and Robert Keyes joined the group. He was given responsibility for taking charge of Robert Catesby’s house in Lambeth where gunpowder was to be temporarily stored.
1604 (December)
Robert Catesby’s servant, Thomas Bates, discovered the plot and was invited to join the conspiracy.
1604 (December)
Some accounts state that the conspirators began to dig under the wall of the House of Lords in preparation for the re-opening of Parliament in February. No evidence of this has ever been found so it may have been a fabrication by one of the captured conspirators.
1604 (24th December)
It was announced that due to concerns over an outbreak of the plague, Parliament would not re-open until 3rd October 1605
1605 (25th March)
The conspirators held another meeting. They had now been joined by Robert Wintour, Thomas Wintour’s brother, John Grant, Thomas Wintour’s brother-in-law, and Christopher Wright, John Wright’s brother.
1605 (25th March)
The conspirators rented a storeroom underneath the House of Lords.
1605 (20th July)
The conspirators had stored 36 barrels of gunpowder in the storeroom beneath Parliament.
1605 (28th July)
The state opening of Parliament was further delayed due to the outbreak of plague. The new opening was set for 5th November.
1605 (September)
Ambrose Rookwood and Everard Digby joined the conspiracy.
1605 (14th October)
Robert Catesby invited his cousin, Francis Tresham, to join the conspiracy.
1605 (mid October)
The details of the plot were finalised. Guido Fawkes would stay in the vault beneath Parliament to light the fuse and would then escape across the Thames and then to the continent. The other conspirators would go to the Midlands in order to start a riot and ensure that Princess Elizabeth was captured.
1605 (26th October)
Lord Monteagle received an anonymous letter telling him not to go to Parliament on 5th November. The letter was most likely sent by Francis Tresham, Monteagle’s brother-in-law.
1605 (27th October)
Lord Monteagle took the letter he had received to Robert Cecil, James I’s chief minister.
1605 (28th October)
Lord Monteagle’s servant, Thomas Ward, knew John and Christopher Wright and told them about the letter. They then told Robert Catesby.
1605 (29th October)
Robert Catesby and Thomas Wintour suspected that Francis Tresham had sent the letter and confronted him about it. He convinced them that he had not written the letter but suggested that the plot be abandoned.
1605 (1st November)
King James I was shown the letter that was sent to Lord Monteagle. James I was quick to realise that the wording of the letter suggested an explosion of some kind.
1605 (2nd November)
King James I ordered that the Houses of Parliament and the rooms below them should be thoroughly searched.
1605 (4th November)
Everard Digby was in position ready to abduct Princess Elizabeth.
1605 (4th November)
Thomas Percy visited his second cousin, the Earl of Northumberland, to try to find out what was known about the letter. He returned to London and assured the conspirators they had nothing to worry about.
1605 (4th November)
Robert Catesby, John Wright and Thomas Bates left London for the Midlands.
1605 (4th November)
A search of the buildings around Parliament revealed nothing more than a large pile of firewood in a room beneath Parliament. They were told by the servant standing guard (Guido Fawkes) that the firewood belonged to Thomas Percy.
1605 (4th November)
Not satisfied, and concerned by the mention of Thomas Percy, a known Catholic, a second search was ordered. This time. Thomas Knyvet, a Justice of the Peace, arrested and searched Guido Fawkes, who gave his name as John Johnson. Guido was found to be in possession of matches, touchwood and a pocket watch. When the firewood was moved the 36 barrels of gunpowder were discovered.
1605 (5th November)
King James I ordered bonfires to be lit across the country to celebrate the uncovering of the plot.
1605 (5th November)
On hearing of Guido’s arrest, those conspirators still in London, Christopher Wright, Thomas Percy, Ambrose Rookwood and Robert Keyes fled the capital.
1605 (6th November)
Robert Catesby convinced the conspirators that they could still entice the people to rise up against the King. They moved to Holbeche House in Staffordshire with weapons and supplies they had taken from Warwick Castle.
1605 (6th November)
James I approved the use of torture on Guido Fawkes who had refused to reveal any names of the other conspirators.
1605 (6th November)
Robert Catesby was injured when some of the gunpowder stored for their weapons caught fire.
1605 (7th November)
After being tortured, Guido Fawkes confessed and revealed full details of the conspiracy.
1605 (8th November)
The sheriff of Worcester stormed Holbeche House and Robert Catesby and Thomas Percy were shot. John Grant, Ambrose Rookwood and Thomas Wintour were arrested. Thomas Bates and Robert Keyes who had left Holbeche House were captured shortly afterwards.
1605 (12th November)
Francis Tresham was arrested and sent to the Tower of London.
1605 (23rd November)
Thomas Wintour made a full confession to the authorities.
1605 (27th November)
Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland was arrested as a conspirator on the evidence of his having met with Thomas Percy on 4th November. With Thomas Percy dead Northumberland had no defence and was sent to the Tower of London.
1606 (27th January)
Guido Fawkes, Everard Digby, Robert Wintour, John Grant and Thomas Bates were put on trial for treason.
1606 (30th January)
Everard Digby, Robert Wintour, John Grant and Thomas Bates were taken through the streets of London to St Paul’s where they were hung, drawn and quartered.
1606 (31st January)
Guido Fawkes, Thomas Wintour, Ambrose Rookwood and Robert Keyes were hung, drawn and quartered opposite Parliament.
1606 (27th June)
Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland was found guilty. He was heavily fined and imprisoned for 15 years.


Published Oct 23, 2017 @ 9:37 am – Updated – [last-modified]

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2017 – 2020). Gunpowder Plot 1603 – 1606 Timeline. Last accessed [date]


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