The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in earlier centuries often called the Gunpowder Treason Plot or the Jesuit Treason, was a failed assassination attempt against King James I by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby who sought to restore the Catholic monarchy to England after decades of persecution against Catholics.
The plan was to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament on 5 November 1605, as the prelude to a popular revolt in the Midlands during which King James’s nine-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, was to be installed as the Catholic head of state. Catesby may have embarked on the scheme after hopes of securing greater religious tolerance under King James had faded, leaving many English Catholics disappointed.
His fellow contributors were John and Christopher Wright, Robert and Thomas Wintour, Thomas Percy, Guy Fawkes, Robert Keyes, Thomas Bates, John Grant, Ambrose Rookwood, Sir Everard Digby and Francis Tresham. Fawkes, who had 10 years of military experience fighting in the Spanish Netherlands in the failed suppression of the Dutch Revolt, was given charge of the explosives.
The plot was revealed to the authorities in an anonymous letter sent to William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, on 26 October 1605. During a search of the House of Lords in the evening on 4 November 1605, Fawkes was discovered guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder—enough to reduce the House of Lords to rubble—and arrested. Most of the conspirators fled from London as they learned that the plot had been discovered, trying to enlist support along the way. Several made a stand against the pursuing Sheriff of Worcester and his men at Holbeche House; in the ensuing battle Catesby was one of those shot and killed. At their trial on 27 January 1606 eight of the survivors, including Fawkes, were convicted and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.
Details of the assassination attempt were allegedly known by the principal Jesuit of England, Father Henry Garnet. Although he was convicted of treason and sentenced to death, doubt has been cast on how much he really knew of the plot. As its existence was revealed to him through confession, Garnet was prevented from informing the authorities by the absolute confidentiality of the confessional. Although anti-Catholic legislation was introduced soon after the discovery of the plot, many important and loyal Catholics retained high office during King James I‘s reign.
Religion in England
Between 1533 and 1540, King Henry VIII took control of the English Church from Rome, the start of several decades of religious tension in England. English Catholics struggled in a society dominated by the newly separate and increasingly Protestant Church of England. Henry’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, responded to the growing religious divide by introducing the Elizabethan Religious Settlement, which required anyone appointed to a public or church office to swear allegiance to the monarch as head of the Church and state. The penalties for refusal were severe; fines were imposed for recusancy, and repeat offenders risked imprisonment and execution. Catholicism became marginalised, but despite the threat of torture or execution, priests continued to practise their faith in secret.
The conspirators’ principal aim was to kill King James, but many other important targets would also be present at the State Opening, including the monarch’s nearest relatives and members of the Privy Council. The senior judges of the English legal system, most of the Protestant aristocracy, and the bishops of the Church of England would all have attended in their capacity as members of the House of Lords, along with the members of the House of Commons. Another important objective was the kidnapping of the King’s daughter, Elizabeth. Housed at Coombe Abbey near Coventry, she lived only ten miles north of Warwick—convenient for the plotters, most of whom lived in the Midlands.
Once the King and his Parliament were dead, the plotters intended to install Elizabeth on the English throne as a titular Queen. The fate of her brothers, Henry and Charles, would be improvised; their role in state ceremonies was, as yet, uncertain. The plotters planned to use Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland, as Elizabeth’s regent, but most likely never informed him of this.
Robert Catesby (1573–1605), a man of “ancient, historic and distinguished lineage”, was the inspiration behind the plot. He was described by contemporaries as “a good-looking man, about six feet tall, athletic and a good swordsman”. Along with several other conspirators, he took part in the Essex Rebellion in 1601, during which he was wounded and captured. Queen Elizabeth allowed him to escape with his life after fining him 4,000 marks (equivalent to more than £6 million in 2008), after which he sold his estate in Chastleton. In 1603 Catesby helped to organise a mission to the new king of Spain, Philip III, urging Philip to launch an invasion attempt on England, which they assured him would be well supported, particularly by the English Catholics.
Thomas Wintour (1571–1606) was chosen as the emissary, but the Spanish king, although sympathetic to the plight of Catholics in England, was intent on making peace with James. Wintour had also attempted to convince the Spanish envoy Don Juan de Tassis that “3,000 Catholics” were ready and waiting to support such an invasion. Concern was voiced by Pope Clement VIII that using violence to achieve a restoration of Catholic power in England would result in the destruction of those that remained.
According to contemporary accounts, in February 1604 Catesby invited Thomas Wintour to his house in Lambeth, where they discussed Catesby’s plan to re-establish Catholicism in England by blowing up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament. Wintour was known as a competent scholar, able to speak several languages, and he had fought with the English army in the Netherlands. His uncle, Francis Ingleby, had been executed for being a Catholic priest in 1586, and Wintour later converted to Catholicism.
Also present at the meeting was John Wright, a devout Catholic said to be one of the best swordsmen of his day, and a man who had taken part with Catesby in the Earl of Essex’s rebellion three years earlier. Despite his reservations over the possible repercussions should the attempt fail, Wintour agreed to join the conspiracy, perhaps persuaded by Catesby’s rhetoric: “Let us give the attempt and where it faileth, pass no further.”
Wintour travelled to Flanders to enquire about Spanish support. While there he sought out Guy Fawkes (1570–1606), a committed Catholic who had served as a soldier in the Southern Netherlands under the command of William Stanley, and who in 1603 was recommended for a captaincy. Accompanied by John Wright’s brother Christopher, Fawkes had also been a member of the 1603 delegation to the Spanish court pleading for an invasion of England. Wintour told Fawkes that “some good frends of his wished his company in Ingland”, and that certain gentlemen “were uppon a resolution to doe some whatt in Ingland if the pece with Spain healped us nott”.
The two men returned to England late in April 1604, telling Catesby that Spanish support was unlikely. Thomas Percy, Catesby’s friend and John Wright’s brother-in-law, was introduced to the plot several weeks later. Percy had found employment with his kinsman the Earl of Northumberland, and by 1596 was his agent for the family’s northern estates. About 1600–1601 he served with his patron in the Low Countries. At some point during Northumberland’s command in the Low Countries, Percy became his agent in his communications with James. Percy was reputedly a “serious” character who had converted to the Catholic faith. His early years were, according to a Catholic source, marked by a tendency to rely on “his sword and personal courage”. Northumberland, although not a Catholic himself, planned to build a strong relationship with James I in order to better the prospects of English Catholics, and to reduce the family disgrace caused by his separation from his wife Martha Wright, a favourite of Elizabeth I.
Thomas Percy’s meetings with James seemed to go well. Percy returned with promises of support for the Catholics, and Northumberland believed that James would go so far as to allow Mass in private houses, so as not to cause public offence. Percy, keen to improve his standing, went further, claiming that the future King would guarantee the safety of English Catholics.
The first meeting between the five conspirators took place on 20 May 1604, probably at the Duck and Drake Inn, just off the Strand, Thomas Wintour’s usual residence when staying in London. Catesby, Thomas Wintour, and John Wright were in attendance, joined by Guy Fawkes and Thomas Percy. Alone in a private room, the five plotters swore an oath of secrecy on a prayer book. By coincidence, and ignorant of the plot, Father John Gerard (a friend of Catesby’s) was celebrating Mass in another room, and the five men subsequently received the Eucharist.
The details of the plot were finalised in October, in a series of taverns across London and Daventry. Fawkes would be left to light the fuse and then escape across the Thames, while simultaneously a revolt in the Midlands would help to ensure the capture of the King’s daughter, Elizabeth. Fawkes would leave for the continent, to explain events in England to the European Catholic powers.
The wives of those involved and Anne Vaux (a friend of Garnet who often shielded priests at her home) became increasingly concerned by what they suspected was about to happen. Several of the conspirators expressed worries about the safety of fellow Catholics who would be present in Parliament on the day of the planned explosion. Percy was concerned for his patron, Northumberland, and the young Earl of Arundel‘s name was brought up; Catesby suggested that a minor wound might keep him from the chamber on that day.
On Saturday 26 October, Monteagle (Tresham’s brother-in-law) arranged a meal in a long-disused house at Hoxton. Suddenly a servant appeared saying he had been handed a letter for Lord Monteagle from a stranger in the road. Monteagle ordered it to be read aloud to the company. “By this prearranged manoeuvre Francis Tresham sought at the same time to prevent the Plot and forewarn his friends” (H Trevor-Roper).
My Lord, out of the love I bear to some of your friends, I have a care of your preservation. Therefore I would advise you, as you tender your life, to devise some excuse to shift your attendance at this parliament; for God and man hath concurred to punish the wickedness of this time. And think not slightly of this advertisement, but retire yourself into your country where you may expect the event in safety. For though there be no appearance of any stir, yet I say they shall receive a terrible blow this Parliament; and yet they shall not see who hurts them. This counsel is not to be condemned because it may do you good and can do you no harm; for the danger is passed as soon as you have burnt the letter. And I hope God will give you the grace to make good use of it, to whose holy protection I commend you.
Uncertain of the letter’s meaning, Monteagle promptly rode to Whitehall and handed it to Cecil (then Earl of Salisbury). Salisbury informed the Earl of Worcester, considered to have recusant sympathies, and the suspected Catholic Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton, but kept news of the plot from the King, who was busy hunting in Cambridgeshire and not expected back for several days. Monteagle’s servant, Thomas Ward, had family connections with the Wright brothers, and sent a message to Catesby about the betrayal. Catesby, who had been due to go hunting with the King, suspected that Tresham was responsible for the letter, and with Thomas Wintour confronted the recently recruited conspirator. Tresham managed to convince the pair that he had not written the letter, but urged them to abandon the plot. Salisbury was already aware of certain stirrings before he received the letter, but did not yet know the exact nature of the plot, or who exactly was involved. He therefore elected to wait, to see how events unfolded.
The letter was shown to the King on Friday 1 November following his arrival back in London. Upon reading it, James immediately seized upon the word “blow” and felt that it hinted at “some strategem of fire and powder”, perhaps an explosion exceeding in violence the one that killed his father, Lord Darnley, at Kirk o’ Field in 1567. Keen not to seem too intriguing, and wanting to allow the King to take the credit for unveiling the conspiracy, Salisbury feigned ignorance. The following day members of the Privy Council visited the King at the Palace of Whitehall and informed him that, based on the information that Salisbury had given them a week earlier, on Monday the Lord Chamberlain Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk would undertake a search of the Houses of Parliament, “both above and below”.
On Sunday 3 November Percy, Catesby and Wintour had a final meeting, where Percy told his colleagues that they should “abide the uttermost triall”, and reminded them of their ship waiting at anchor on the Thames. By 4 November Digby was ensconced with a “hunting party” at Dunchurch, ready to abduct Elizabeth. The same day, Percy visited the Earl of Northumberland—who was uninvolved in the conspiracy—to see if he could discern what rumours surrounded the letter to Monteagle. Percy returned to London and assured Wintour, John Wright, and Robert Keyes that they had nothing to be concerned about, and returned to his lodgings on Gray’s Inn Road. That same evening Catesby, likely accompanied by John Wright and Bates, set off for the Midlands. Fawkes visited Keyes, and was given a pocket watch left by Percy, to time the fuse, and an hour later Rookwood received several engraved swords from a local cutler.
Although two accounts of the number of searches and their timing exist, according to the King’s version, the first search of the buildings in and around Parliament was made on Monday 4 November—as the plotters were busy making their final preparations—by Suffolk, Monteagle, and John Whynniard. They found a large pile of firewood in the undercroft beneath the House of Lords, accompanied by what they presumed to be a serving man (Fawkes), who told them that the firewood belonged to his master, Thomas Percy. They left to report their findings, at which time Fawkes also left the building. The mention of Percy’s name aroused further suspicion as he was already known to the authorities as a Catholic agitator.
The King insisted that a more thorough search be undertaken. Late that night, the search party, headed by Thomas Knyvet, returned to the undercroft. They again found Fawkes, dressed in a cloak and hat, and wearing boots and spurs. He was arrested, whereupon he gave his name as John Johnson. He was carrying a lantern now held in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and a search of his person revealed a pocket watch, several slow matches and touchwood. 36 barrels of gunpowder were discovered hidden under piles of coal. Fawkes was taken to the King early on the morning of 5 November.
As news of “John Johnson’s” arrest spread among the plotters still in London, most fled northwest, along Watling Street. Christopher Wright and Thomas Percy left together. Rookwood left soon after, and managed to cover 30 miles in two hours on one horse. He overtook Keyes, who had set off earlier, then Wright and Percy at Little Brickhill, before catching Catesby, John Wright, and Bates on the same road. Reunited, the group continued northwest to Dunchurch, using horses provided by Digby. Keyes went to Mordaunt’s house at Drayton. Meanwhile, Thomas Wintour stayed in London, and even went to Westminster to see what was happening. When he realised the plot had been uncovered, he took his horse and made for his sister’s house at Norbrook, before continuing to Huddington Court.
On the 5th of November we began our Parliament, to which the King should have come in person, but refrained through a practise but that morning discovered. The plot was to have blown up the King at such time as he should have been set on his Royal Throne, accompanied with all his Children, Nobility and Commoners and assisted with all Bishops, Judges and Doctors; at one instant and blast to have ruin’d the whole State and Kingdom of England. And for the effecting of this, there was placed under the Parliament House, where the king should sit, some 30 barrels of powder, with good store of wood, faggots, pieces and bars of iron.
Extract of a letter from Sir Edward Hoby (Gentleman of the Bedchamber) to Sir Thomas Edwards, Ambassador at Brussells
The group of six conspirators stopped at Ashby St Ledgers at about 6 pm, where they met Robert Wintour and updated him on their situation. They then continued on to Dunchurch, and met with Digby. Catesby convinced him that despite the plot’s failure, an armed struggle was still a real possibility. He announced to Digby’s “hunting party” that the King and Salisbury were dead, before the fugitives moved west to Warwick.
In London, news of the plot was spreading, and the authorities set extra guards on the city gates, closed the ports, and protected the house of the Spanish Ambassador, which was surrounded by an angry mob. An arrest warrant was issued against Thomas Percy, and his patron, the Earl of Northumberland, was placed under house arrest. In “John Johnson’s” initial interrogation he revealed nothing other than the name of his mother, and that he was from Yorkshire. A letter to Guy Fawkes was discovered on his person, but he claimed that name was one of his aliases. Far from denying his intentions, “Johnson” stated that it had been his purpose to destroy the King and Parliament. Nevertheless, he maintained his composure and insisted that he had acted alone. His unwillingness to yield so impressed the King that he described him as possessing “a Roman resolution”.
On 6 November, the Lord Chief Justice, Sir John Popham (a man with a deep-seated hatred of Catholics) questioned Rookwood’s servants. By the evening he had learned the names of several of those involved in the conspiracy: Catesby, Rookwood, Keyes, Wynter [sic], John and Christopher Wright, and Grant. “Johnson” meanwhile persisted with his story, and along with the gunpowder he was found with, was moved to the Tower of London, where the King had decided that “Johnson” would be tortured. The use of torture was forbidden, except by royal prerogative or a body such as the Privy Council or Star Chamber. In a letter of 6 November James wrote: “The gentler tortours are to be first used unto him, et sic per gradus ad ima tenditur , and so God speed your good work.” “Johnson” may have been placed in manacles and hung from the wall, but he was almost certainly subjected to the horrors of the rack. On 7 November his resolve was broken; he confessed late that day, and again over the following two days.
On 6 November, with Fawkes maintaining his silence, the fugitives raided Warwick Castle for supplies, then continued to Norbrook to collect weapons. From there they continued their journey to Huddington. Bates left the group and travelled to Coughton Court to deliver a letter from Catesby, to Father Garnet and the other priests, informing them of what had transpired, and asking for their help in raising an army. Garnet replied by begging Catesby and his followers to stop their “wicked actions”, before himself fleeing. Several priests set out for Warwick, worried about the fate of their colleagues. They were caught, and then imprisoned in London. Catesby and the others arrived at Huddington early in the afternoon, and were met by Thomas Wintour. They received practically no support or sympathy from those they met, including family members, who were terrified at the prospect of being associated with treason. They continued on to Holbeche House on the border of Staffordshire, the home of Stephen Littleton, a member of their ever-decreasing band of followers. Whilst there Stephen Littleton and Thomas Wintour went to ‘Pepperhill’, the Shropshire residence at Boningale of John Talbot, Robert Wintour’s father-in-law, to gain support but to no avail. Tired and desperate, they spread out some of the now-soaked gunpowder in front of the fire, to dry out. Although gunpowder does not explode unless physically contained, a spark from the fire landed on the powder and the resultant flames engulfed Catesby, Rookwood, Grant, and a man named Morgan (a member of the hunting party).
Thomas Wintour and Littleton, on their way from Huddington to Holbeche House, were told by a messenger that Catesby had died. At that point, Littleton left, but Thomas arrived at the house to find Catesby alive, albeit scorched. John Grant was not so lucky, and had been blinded by the fire. Digby, Robert Wintour and his half-brother John, and Thomas Bates, had all left. Of the plotters, only the singed figures of Catesby and Grant, and the Wright brothers, Rookwood, and Percy, remained. The fugitives resolved to stay in the house and wait for the arrival of the King’s men.
Richard Walsh (Sheriff of Worcestershire) and his company of 200 men besieged Holbeche House on the morning of 8 November. Thomas Wintour was hit in the shoulder while crossing the courtyard. John Wright was shot, followed by his brother, and then Rookwood. Catesby and Percy were reportedly killed by a single lucky shot. The attackers rushed the property, and stripped the dead or dying defenders of their clothing. Grant, Morgan, Rookwood, and Wintour were arrested.
Bates and Keyes were captured shortly after Holbeche House was taken. Digby, who had intended to give himself up, was caught by a small group of pursuers. Tresham was arrested on 12 November, and taken to the Tower three days later. Montague, Mordaunt, and Stourton (Tresham’s brother-in-law) were also imprisoned in the Tower. The Earl of Northumberland joined them on 27 November. Meanwhile, the government used the revelation of the plot to accelerate its persecution of Catholics. The home of Anne Vaux at Enfield Chase was searched, revealing the presence of trap doors and hidden passages.
A terrified servant then revealed that Garnet, who had often stayed at the house, had recently given a Mass there. Father John Gerard was secreted at the home of Elizabeth Vaux, in Harrowden. Vaux was taken to London for interrogation. There she was resolute; she had never been aware that Gerard was a priest, she had presumed he was a “Catholic gentleman”, and she did not know of his whereabouts. The homes of the conspirators were searched, and looted; Mary Digby’s household was ransacked, and she was made destitute. Some time before the end of November, Garnet moved to Hindlip Hall near Worcester, the home of the Habingtons, where he wrote a letter to the Privy Council protesting his innocence.
The foiling of the Gunpowder Plot initiated a wave of national relief at the delivery of the King and his sons, and inspired in the ensuing parliament a mood of loyalty and goodwill, which Salisbury astutely exploited to extract higher subsidies for the King than any (bar one) granted in Elizabeth I’s reign. Walter Raleigh, who was languishing in the Tower owing to his involvement in the Main Plot, and whose wife was a first cousin of Lady Catesby, declared he had had no knowledge of the conspiracy.
The Bishop of Rochester gave a sermon at St. Paul’s Cross, in which he condemned the plot. In his speech to both Houses on 9 November, James expounded on two emerging preoccupations of his monarchy: the divine right of kings and the Catholic question. He insisted that the plot had been the work of only a few Catholics, not of the English Catholics as a whole, and he reminded the assembly to rejoice at his survival, since kings were divinely appointed and he owed his escape to a miracle. Salisbury wrote to his English ambassadors abroad, informing them of what had occurred, and also reminding them that the King bore no ill will to his Catholic neighbours. The foreign powers largely distanced themselves from the plotters, calling them atheists and Protestant heretics.
Sir Edward Coke was in charge of the interrogations. Over a period of about ten weeks, in the Lieutenant’s Lodgings at the Tower of London (now known as the Queen’s House) he questioned those who had been implicated in the plot. For the first round of interrogations, no real proof exists that these people were tortured, although on several occasions Salisbury certainly suggested that they should be. Coke later revealed that the threat of torture was in most cases enough to elicit a confession from those caught up in the aftermath of the plot.
Only two confessions were printed in full: Fawkes’s confession of 8 November, and Wintour’s of 23 November. Having been involved in the conspiracy from the start (unlike Fawkes), Wintour was able to give extremely valuable information to the Privy Council. The handwriting on his testimony is almost certainly that of the man himself, but his signature was markedly different. Wintour had previously only ever signed his name as such, but his confession is signed “Winter”, and since he had been shot in the shoulder, the steady hand used to write the signature may indicate some measure of government interference—or it may indicate that writing a shorter version of his name was less painful. Wintour’s testimony makes no mention of his brother, Robert. Both were published in the so-called King’s Book, a hastily written official account of the conspiracy published in late November 1605.
Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, was in a difficult position. His midday dinner with Thomas Percy on 4 November was damning evidence against him, and after Thomas Percy’s death there was nobody who could either implicate him or clear him. The Privy Council suspected that Northumberland would have been Princess Elizabeth’s protector had the plot succeeded, but there was insufficient evidence to convict him. Northumberland remained in the Tower and on 27 June 1606 was finally charged with contempt. He was stripped of all public offices, fined £30,000 (about £7 million in 2022), and kept in the Tower until June 1621. The Lords Mordaunt and Stourton were tried in the Star Chamber. They were condemned to imprisonment in the Tower, where they remained until 1608, when they were transferred to the Fleet Prison. Both were also given significant fines.
Several other people not involved in the conspiracy, but known or related to the conspirators, were also questioned. Northumberland’s brothers, Sir Allen and Sir Josceline Percy, were arrested. Lord Montagu had employed Fawkes at an early age, and had also met Catesby on 29 October, and was therefore of interest; he was released several months later. Agnes Wenman was from a Catholic family, and related to Elizabeth Vaux. She was examined twice but the charges against her were eventually dropped. Percy’s secretary and later the controller of Northumberland’s household, Dudley Carleton, had leased the vault where the gunpowder was stored, and consequently he was imprisoned in the Tower. Salisbury believed his story, and authorised his release.
Although Catesby and Percy escaped the executioner, their bodies were exhumed and decapitated, and their heads exhibited on spikes outside the House of Lords. On a cold 30 January, Everard Digby, Robert Wintour, John Grant, and Thomas Bates, were tied to hurdles – wooden panels – and dragged through the crowded streets of London to St Paul’s Churchyard. Digby, the first to mount the scaffold, asked the spectators for forgiveness, and refused the attentions of a Protestant clergyman. He was stripped of his clothing, and wearing only a shirt, climbed the ladder to place his head through the noose. He was quickly cut down, and while still fully conscious was castrated, disembowelled, and then quartered, along with the three other prisoners.
The following day, Thomas Wintour, Ambrose Rookwood, Robert Keyes, and Guy Fawkes were hanged, drawn and quartered, opposite the building they had planned to blow up, in the Old Palace Yard at Westminster. Keyes did not wait for the hangman’s command and jumped from the gallows, but he survived the drop and was led to the quartering block. Although weakened by his torture, Fawkes managed to jump from the gallows and break his neck, thus avoiding the agony of the gruesome latter part of his execution.
Steven Littleton was executed at Stafford. His cousin Humphrey, despite his co-operation with the authorities, met his end at Red Hill near Worcester. Henry Garnet’s execution took place on 3 May 1606.
In January 1606, during the first sitting of Parliament since the plot, the Observance of 5th November Act 1605 was passed, making services and sermons commemorating the event an annual feature of English life; the act remained in force until 1859. The tradition of marking the day with the ringing of church bells and bonfires started soon after the Plot’s discovery, and fireworks were included in some of the earliest celebrations. In Britain, 5 November is variously called Bonfire Night, Fireworks Night, or Guy Fawkes Night.
It remains the custom in Britain, on or around 5 November, to let off fireworks. Traditionally, in the weeks running up to the 5th, children made “guys”—effigies supposedly of Fawkes—usually made from old clothes stuffed with newspaper, and fitted with a grotesque mask, to be burnt on 5 November bonfire. These guys were exhibited in the street to collect money for fireworks, although this custom has become less common. The word guy thus came in the 19th century to mean an oddly dressed person, and hence in the 20th and 21st centuries to mean any male person.
5 November firework displays and bonfire parties are common throughout Britain, in major public displays and in private gardens. In some areas, particularly in Sussex, there are extensive processions, large bonfires and firework displays organised by local bonfire societies, the most elaborate of which take place in Lewes.
According to the biographer Esther Forbes, the Guy Fawkes Day celebration in the pre-revolutionary American colonies was a very popular holiday. In Boston, the revelry on “Pope Night” took on anti-authoritarian overtones, and often became so dangerous that many would not venture out of their homes.