Robert and Thomas Wintour
Robert and Thomas Wintour (Robert 1568 - January 30 1606 and Thomas 1571 - January 31, 1606) were members of the Gunpowder Plot, a failed conspiracy to assassinate King James I. Both were related to other conspirators, such as their cousin, Robert Catesby, and a half-brother, John Wintour, also joined them following the plot's failure. Thomas was an intelligent and educated man, fluent in several languages and trained as a lawyer, but chose instead to become a soldier, fighting for England in the Low Countries, France, and possibly in Central Europe. By 1600, however, he changed his mind and became a fervent Catholic. On several occasions he travelled to the continent and entreated Spain on behalf of England's oppressed Catholics, and suggested that with Spanish support a Catholic rebellion was likely. As a momentum was building behind a peace settlement between the two countries, Thomas's pleas fell on deaf ears. Instead, in 1604 he decided to join with Catesby, who planned to restore England to Catholicism by killing the king, and inciting a popular revolt in the Midlands, during which James's daughter, Princess Elizabeth, would be installed as titular queen. Thomas returned to the continent and again failed to elicit Spanish support, but instead met Guy Fawkes, with whom he returned to England. Robert, a devout Catholic who inherited Huddington Court near Worcester, joined the conspiracy the following year. The plot began to unravel following the delivery of an anonymous letter to William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, warning him to stay away from Parliament. Thomas and Catesby confronted Monteagle's brother-in-law, the recently recruited Francis Tresham, threatening to kill him, but Tresham managed to convince them of his innocence. At that stage Thomas reportedly asked Catesby to abandon the scheme, to no avail. When Fawkes was captured at about midnight on 4 November 1605, Thomas fled to Robert's house at Huddington. Catesby and most of the others spent two days travelling across the Midlands attempting to incite a rebellion, but with an ever-diminishing group of supporters they eventually settled at Holbeche House in Staffordshire, and waited for government forces to arrive. Thomas, by then reintegrated into the group, chose to remain with them, and in the ensuing firefight was shot in the shoulder, and captured. Robert, who had left before the battle, evaded capture until January 1606. Much of what is written about the plot is based on Thomas's confessions, given in the Tower of London in November 1605. The brothers were tried on 27 January 1606, and hanged, drawn and quartered several days later in London.