Guy Fawkes

Education and Influences

As a child of gentlemanly status, Guy started his education at the age of five, attending the free school of St Peters in ‘Le Horse Fayre’ region of York, founded in 1557 by Charter of Philip and Mary. It was during this time he began mixing with prominent Catholics, including Jack and Kit Wright, his later co-conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot, and the future Jesuit priests Oswald Tesimond and Edward Oldcourne. Less than a year before he started St Peters the school’s integrity had been called into question when the headmaster, Fletcher, was dismissed for converting to the Catholic faith. He was replaced by John Pulleyn, a Protestant reverend, with family ties to the Pulleyns of Blubberhouse. He is suspected of having been a closet Catholic whose influence on Fawkes may have attributed to the beliefs that shaped Guy’s actions in later life. It is possible that Guy attended university at Cambridge, as suggested by his answers to questioning after his arrest in 1605, but that cannot be proven. As a Catholic, he would, in any case, have been unable to obtain a degree.

Edward Fawkes died when Guy was only seven, and was buried on 17 January 1578. Edith Fawkes remained a widow for over nine years before marrying Denis Bainbridge, a Catholic gentleman from the nearby village of Scotton, sometime between 1587 and 1589. Contemporary sources are critical of Bainbridge, a man described as ‘more ornamental than useful’ and ‘unthrifty’. It was around this time that Guy became a Catholic.