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John Wintour

Born : About 1586
Died : 7 April 1606 - Red Hill, Worcester

John Wintour was the son of George Wintour of Huddington Court by his second wife Elizabeth Bourne, daughter of Sir John Bourne of Battenhall.[1] This made him a half-brother of Robert and Thomas Wintour, two of the principal conspirators. John was substantially younger than his two half-brothers, 14 years younger than Thomas and 22 years younger than Robert.

John studied at Oxford University but, like so many of the sons of Catholic gentry at the time, was unable to take his degree because of his religion.

He does not seem to have played a major part in the events leading up to the Gunpowder Plot, and indeed in his confession he claims that he became involved only at the very last minute and even then more or less unknowingly. He had gone to visit his brother-in-law John Grant on the night of Monday, 4 November, and went with Grant to Rugby on the following day to attend a horse race. John joined the gathering at Dunchurch because, according to the messenger who met them at Rugby, "... the jentlemen were at Dunchurch and desired our Company to be merry."[3]

Of the hundred or so who had originally gathered at Dunchurch, many later left after hearing the desperate situation which had befallen the Plot participants, but John stayed with the group and accompanied them on the journey which led eventually to Holbeache House in Staffordshire.

After deciding that he no longer trusted Robert Catesby and the other leaders of the Plot, John left Holbeache House with his manservant, Thomas Edgin, during the night of Thursday, 7 November, before the authorities arrived and the siege began. He initially intended to make his way to the Court in London, but eventually decided to return to Huddington Court, where he surrendered his sword and was taken prisoner by the Sheriff of Worcester's deputy.[3][5]

After his arrest, John was kept in custody at Huddington Court until the following day (Saturday, 9 November), and was then taken to the county gaol in Worcester Castle.[5] Later he was transferred to the Tower of London.

John accompanied the eight survivors of the group of thirteen principal plotters to Westminster Hall for the trial of the conspirators. Despite his plea that "... if I offended the Kyngs Majesty or the state it was through ignorance and not in mallis ..."[3], he was arraigned and condemned for conspiracy.

After the executions of his elder half-brothers, John was kept in the Tower of London for a few more weeks, and was eventually executed at Red Hill, Worcester, together with Father Edward Oldcorne, Humphrey Littleton and Ralph Astley, on 7 April 1606.[2][6] His drawn and quartered body was not put up for public display as was often the case with the victims of this form of execution, but rather he was allowed to be buried in the chancel of the church at Huddington Court.[6]


[1] Stonyhurst Magazine No. 96, March 1898
[2] Durst, Paul, "Intended Treason: What really happened in the Gunpowder Plot", 1970
[3] Confession of John Wintour
[4] Haynes, Alan, "The Gunpowder Plot", 1994
[5] Edwards, Francis, S.J., "Guy Fawkes: the real story of the Gunpowder Plot?", 1969
[6] Fraser, Antonia, "Faith & Treason - The Story of the Gunpowder Plot", 1996

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