Guy Fawkes, the Gunpowder Plot and Ambrose Rookwood
Looking forward to seeing some fireworks on November 5th? It might surprise you to know that there is a connection between the infamous Gunpowder Plot that we remember in this fashion every year and Suffolk Archives!
The link to this national event and Suffolk is Ambrose Rookwood; a handsome, wealthy young man who was a devout Catholic. He was brought into the expanding plot because of his horsemanship, celebrated stable and his ownership of Coldham Hall. This made him an excellent choice for any escape plans. He had undertaken some minor tasks for the lead conspirators, but it wasn’t until the September of 1605 that he was brought fully into their confidence.
When Fawkes was discovered in the Houses of Parliament, some conspirators were still in London and there was a mad dash to escape. Rookwood was one of the last to leave, but due to his excellent horsemanship and horses he overtook the others and it was he who brought the bad news to Catesby, who had devised the plot. Rookwood was badly injured in an explosion at Holbeach House where some of the conspirators had taken refuge, then hit by a musket ball when the authorities besieged the house. Although severely injured, he was taken prisoner and moved to the Tower of London. He was tried with seven others on 27 January at Westminster Hall and executed on 31 January in the Old Palace Yard.
Fireworks have been used to commemorate what has since become known as ‘Guy Fawkes Night’ in England for many years. Our collections reveal teenagers (some very young) in the 19th Century being convicted of firework-related crime around this time of year, including:
• Samual Kettle (18) ‘throwing’ in Cretingham, Nov 1820 (B106/3/8.2/185 page 173)
• James Patrick, shoemaker (14) ‘throwing squibs & fireworks’ in Woodbridge, Nov 1825 (B106/3/8.3/5 pages 9-10)
• Charles Ball (18) convicted of ‘throwing fireworks on the kings highway’, Oct/Nov 1831 (A1122/9/206 page 206)
Enjoy fireworks responsibly everyone!
Just a quick note in closing to let you know the planning application for The Hold was submitted at the end of September. We hope that some of you took the opportunity to view the planning boards and 3D model that were on display in the foyer of the University Waterfront Building. If you didn’t – never fear! By the time you read this, the boards and model will have moved to the public reception area of Endeavour House (Russell Road), where they will remain until the end of November. You can stop by and take a look Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm.