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The Marriage of Guy Fawkes and Maria Pulleyn
By David Herber


The intrigue with this subject began on the Gunpowder Plot Society Mailing List in September of 1997, when several people questioned the pious characteristics many authors had attributed to the plotters, claiming it seemed out of step with what we knew of them and the action with which they have become infamous. We are aware in some detail of the various inter-relationships between the important recusant families, and although no contemporary reference indicated a marriage for Guy Fawkes, there has been much speculation that this is an oversight. Tesimond describes Fawkes by saying "He was also ... something decidedly rare among soldiery, although it was immediately evident to all--a very devout man, of exemplary life and commendable reticence" [1], and we are perhaps left with the image of a man so devoted to his lifes work and his faith, that marriage was merely a distraction he could not afford to entertain.

This article aims to show some of the plausibility behind the theories that Guy Fawkes did indeed marry at Scotton, Yorkshire a Maria Pulleyn, who was descended from the Pulleyns of Scotton Hall. Although this research is far from finished, I thought it might offer another insight into not only the rather speculative life of Fawkes, but also become somewhat representative of the difficulties and hurdles that such research faces. The article outlines firstly the evidence to date, then the plausibility of what the evidence suggests. Lastly, I have added a brief picture of what I am pursuing, and where I hope this will lead.

The Evidence

Through my research to date, I have determined that little or no substantiated proof exists to support the idea that Guy Fawkes married a Maria Pulleyn in or around 1590. In fact, the only source I have located to date indicating that such a marriage took place is the International Genealogy Index, maintained by the Mormon Church [2]. In her book Faith and Treason, Antonia Fraser makes a similar comment regarding the marriage: "... not one contemporary account at the time of Guy Fawkes' greatest fame--or infamy--refers to him as a married man, nor is there any reference to his wife or child either in England or the Low Countries" [3]. I assume that her source was also these Indexes, and she too has failed to locate any corroborating evidence.

If we are to look at the entries in this batch more closely, we find a number of interesting details. Firstly there is the baptism of Guy Fawkes in April 1570, the birth of Maria Pulleyn in May 1569 at Scotton, the marriage of Guy Fawkes and a Maria Pulleyn in 1590, and the birth of a son, Thomas Fawkes, on 9 February 1591. Only the baptism of Guy can be proved beyond all doubt through the entry in the St. Michael-le-Belfry parish records. The search and establishment of further proof is made all the more difficult by the irregularity of the IGI entries. What immediately becomes evident are three crucial attributes relating to the batch that all the relevant entries come from.

  • There is no indication of the original source for these entries
  • The entries that appear favour the modern spelling of surnames
  • Only one or two exact dates are indicated and these do not always follow IGI conventions in detailing only baptism and marriage records

It is interesting that no original source is noted in the batches. Besides containing references to entries culled from (surviving) parish registers around the world, the IGI also contains a few entries which have been submitted by private researchers. I understand that the number of latter entries is not great, and they are usually noticeable because the name of the submitter appears in the column where the parents' names would appear, with the annotation "Rel(ative):". In the batch relating to these entries, this annotation does not appear, therefore we are left unsure as to their origin. The only accompanying data indicates - Record submitted after 1991 by a member of the LDS Church.

The question of spelling is certainly not a critical factor in determining the validity or accuracy of the entries, moreover it can give some indication as to the contemporariness of the source. The surname FAWKES in the marriage entry is spelt as we would expect to spell it today. What's so strange about that you might ask? Well, there are a couple of interesting points about this. In Elizabethan times, and for a great many years afterwards, entries in parish registers were written in Latin (hence the difference also between my identification of Mary Pulleyn and the named Maria Pulleyn), which would mean we should perhaps see the name spelt as FAUX, or FAUXE. Guy's birth entry spells his name as "Guye FAUXE, son of Edward FAUXE". The specimen of Guy's signature after his torture appears to me to spell the name as FAUKES, although the shape of the "u" differs from the shape of the "u" in "Guido" (which looks more like an "n"). The second point follows on from the first in that if the original entry contained the name Maria Pulleyn, Maria being the Latin of Mary, then surely Guy's surname would similarly be spelt in the Latin form. Although the spellings of the name would have been fairly mutable throughout a persons life, legal documents would need to be accurate and not suffer from this mutable nature.

There are three documents from this period that are widely regarded and cited as evidence of Guy's movements around the time of this alleged marriage. The first dated October 14, 33 Eliz. (1591) is an indenture of land to one Christopher Lomley. Guy is here mentioned as 'Guye Fauxe of Scotton in the co. of Yorke, gentilman', and seems to support the notion that on legal documents, the preferred spelling was FAUXE, as per the record of his birth.

Ten months later though he was referred to as "Guye Fawkes of the cittie of Yorke" and with the conjecture over the "u" in his torture signature, this is perhaps the time when he standardised his name. However as the earlier document post dates the marriage claim, it is almost certain any such marriage document would have used FAUXE.

Lastly we come to the question of dates. It seems curious that there is an exact date for the birth of Thomas Fawkes, yet the source is not confirmed. I believe that this is perhaps the only semi-concrete piece of evidence the researcher (whoever they were) has located, and has assumed the marriage occurred the previous year. The birthdate of Maria Pulleyn is given as May 1569. This again is curious as it does show some degree of accuracy, but cannot provide the exact day. As to the identity of this Maria, I hope to show that in the following section. No matter how I look at these IGI entries, I cannot help but believe someone has located some family details that are yet to see the light of day. Whether they themselves are researching the subject and have yet to publish their findings, I cannot say, although all my attempts to locate registered Fawkes genealogists has failed to turn up anyone. Perhaps the details are to be found in a family bible, a letter, or some obscure seminary manuscripts, but to date there is nothing to prove beyond doubt that Guy Fawkes married Maria Pulleyn, and by her had a son, Thomas.


Fraser agrees with the premise that the plausibility of a marriage between the Fawkes and Pulleyn families is certainly well-founded. We only have to look back through the Pulleyn family tree to see that Anne Pulleyn of Scotton married Nicholas Fawkes, heir of Farnley circa 1520 [4]. There are also a series of other marriages that inter-relate Fawkes and Pulleyn through the Arthingtons of Castley and the Vavasours of Weston.

Guy Fawkes most probably moved to Timble Hall in the village of Scotton between 18 April 1587 (the date recorded for the burial of Joan, the first wife of Dionysius Bainbridge) and 2 February 1589 (the date of a conveyance of land from Dionysius to his mother Frances, co-signed by his wife Edith, who was Guy's mother). Between these dates, Edith Fawkes had become the second wife of Dionysius Bainbridge. Also living under the roof of Timble Hall was Frances Pulleyn, born Frances Vavasour, of Weston. Her connections with the Fawkes and Pulleyn families were long and complex. She had married as her first husband Antony Fawkes, the grandson of Nicholas Fawkes, heir of Farnley. He had died young, in 1551 before both his father and grandfather. Her second marriage was to Philip Bainbridge of Wheatley Hall, and finally she married as her third husband, Anne Pulleyn's nephew, Walter Pulleyn of Scotton and Timble.

The Pulleyn family have occassionally been quoted as responsible for the reversion of Guy to the Catholic faith, either through the influences of his schoolmaster, John Pulleyn, descended from the Pulleyns of Blubberhouse, or through the influences of his peers while under the roof of his step-father and his mother. Although it is overlooked that Guy would have been a youth of 17 upon his mothers marriage to Dionysius, it does indicate the degree of faith this family held. It is more likely though, according to Catharine Pullein in her book The Pulleynes of Yorkshire, that his eduction in religious matters came from his Harrington relatives, far more staunch advocates of the faith who were indicted for the harbouring of Edmund Campion in 1581, as well as for providing a number of priests, one of whom accompanied Guy to Flanders in 1592-93 [4].

Walter Pulleyn had previously married Margery Slingsby of Scriven, and by her had three sons and two daughters. His heir, William Pulleyn, married Margaret Bellasis, and by her had a son and two daughters. The second daughter, who according to Catherine Pullein was born before 1564, was called Mary. Walter's marriage to Frances similarly occurred prior to 1564. Interestingly, Mary's brother Edmund married Ann Vavasour of Weston, perhaps another arranged marriage that Frances had a hand in.

Looking through the Pulleyn family trees in Catharine Pullein's book for the entry for Mary Pulleyn, we see that Mary was born before 1564, and married an Edward Rudd of Killinghall. No further information on either of them has been found, although a curious entry in the Recusant Rolls 1581-1592 published by the Catholic Record Society did uncover perhaps another twist.

  • RUDD, Dorothy, wife of Edward Rudd, gent., of Killinghall, Ripley parish, W.R., Yorks. 13 mths recusancy from 3 Sept. 1586;conv. 4 Sept. 1587 - VIII (25v)

If this is our Edward Rudd, then it shows that he was previously married and that Mary Pulleyn was his second wife. It would also indicate that he and Mary would have been married for less than three years if Mary then married Guy in 1590. Mary would have been 26 at the youngest in 1590, and if Edward Rudd did die before this date, she could very well have been a prime candidate for Frances, her step-grandmother to marry off.

With such a distinct web of family connections, it is not difficult to speculate on the position that this great matriarch had in each of these three families (Vavasour, Pulleyn and Fawkes), a position that would have seen her almost certainly try to strengthen the bonds between them through marriage. With this in mind, the chances of a clandestine marriage for a young man now strongly Catholic, seem more plausible, and coupled with the fact that the Pulleyns had themselves participated in--and been witnesses to --such marriages in recent years, the chances are highly probable that if such a marriage took place, it was in a secret chancel or a back room of Scotton Hall, and attended only by close friends and allies of the Fawkes and Pulleyn clans. Official recordings of this union, like those of so many other prominant Catholics of their time, would thus never have existed.

An additional tantalizing piece of information that has come to light as an addendum to the original article is the marriage of a Richard Pulleyn and an Eleanor Rudd. Their grandson James, who married a daughter of Sir William Ingilby being styled James Pulleyn of Killinghall.

What Now ? - The Missing Links

I have written several letters to the Horton-Fawkes family who presently live at Farnley Hall. Although they are not direct descendants of the original Fawkes family, I am sure they have some information that could prove useful, however none of my letters have been replied to. I shall continue to write annually in the hope that one of them will one day come across a sympathetic or curious pair of eyes. I am presently attempting to trace further Edward Rudd of Killinghall to determine whether or not he died prior to 1590, thus making Maria available for another marriage. I am also about to communicate with the main administration department of the Mormon Church, and quiz them about the entries to determine whether a source for them actually exists, which I'm sure must, as it would appear very haphazard for a matter of such critical importance to their faith having no stringent guidelines for acceptance. If new information is uncovered, it will be added to the GPS web site, and may entail a follow-up article.

Where is all this leading?

The life of Guy Fawkes is something that has mystified researchers and historians for a great many years. What we know of him is certainly coloured by religious and political beliefs and idealogies of the day, and therefore the picture we get of him is either that of a dedicated warrior type monk, a religious zealot, or a terrorist whose bloody plans to kill James were thwarted at the last minute. Whether Fawkes was either of these two seemingly extreme stereotypes is the object of this part of my research. To uncover another part of his life, albeit a brief period that lasted perhaps a few years, will add significantly to our understanding of his personality and his character.


[1] Edwards, Francis, S.J., "The Gunpowder Plot: the narrative of Oswald Tesimond alias Greenway, trans. from the Italian of the Stonyhurst Manuscript, edited and annotated", 1973
[2] International Genealogy Index - Records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
[3] Fraser, Antonia, Faith & Treason - The Story of the Gunpowder Plot, 1996
[4] Pullein, Catharine, The Pulleynes of Yorkshire, 1915
[5] Recusant Rolls 1581-1592

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