Archive for the ‘The Percies’ Category

Gunpowder Tom: a connection to the Purseys?

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

Approaching Guy Fawkes night here in England, now seems apt to remember Thomas Percy, gunpowder plotter.

There are a good number of Purseys who believe they are related or connected to various lines of the better known and more celebrated Percy family of Northumberland. I am not one of them. That said, like many ordinary people, I am interested in one Thomas Percy, gunpowder plotter.

Thomas Percy (c. 1560 – 8 November 1605) was a member of the group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. He was was the younger of two sons born to Edward Percy of Beverley and his wife Elizabeth (née Waterton).

He was the great-grandson of Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland, and the second cousin once removed of the 4th Earl’s descendent, Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland. Despite not being a close relative, in 1595 the 9th earl made him responsible for collecting rents from his northern estates, and year later, appointed him constable of Alnwick Castle.

In 1591 he married Martha Wright, daughter of Ursula Wright (a convicted recusant) and sister to Christopher and John Wright (both later involved in the Gunpowder Plot).

Thomas became the fifth member of the Gunpowder plot on Sunday 20 May 1604. Almost a year earlier, he had called at Robert Catesby’s home at Ashby St Ledgers, and complained bitterly about James, who since succeeding Elizabeth had done little to fulfil his expectations.

As the plot developed, Thomas found himself at the Duck and Drake inn near the Strand in London, along with Catesby and his cousin Thomas Wintour, John Wright and Guy Fawkes. Apparently, his first words at the meeting were “Shall we always, gentlemen, talk and never do anything?”

Estranged from Thomas, in 1605 Martha and her daughter were living on an annuity funded by the Catholic William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle.Thomas and Martha’s son, Robert, married Emma Mead(e) at Wiveliscombe in Somerset on 22 October 1615. (With thanks to Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Percy_(Gunpowder_Plot)).