Fawkes was a good guy claims relative

REMEMBER, remember the 5th of November . . .For Will Horton-Fawkes it's a date he is not likely to forget – with gunpowder, treason and plot firmly entrenched in his family's history.

REMEMBER, remember the 5th of November . . .

For Will Horton-Fawkes it's a date he is not likely to forget - with gunpowder, treason and plot firmly entrenched in his family's history.

But unlike thousands of gatherings across the country, Mr Horton-Fawkes' Bonfire Night celebrations will not be an event where you will find an effigy of Guy Fawkes hoisted onto the flames.

Quite the contrary. For Mr Horton-Fawkes is a distant relative of the famous plotter, who was part of a Catholic conspiracy in 1605 to blow up King James I and Parliament, and sees his forebear as a brave hero rather than traitor.

"There will be no effigy of Guy Fawkes on my bonfire - I stick to the view that he was good guy," said Mr Horton-Fawkes, 47, of Ipswich.

"He stuck with his friends and colleagues and he didn't give them away until he was put on the rack, which was the most severest form of torture, and that gave them time to get away, particularly the Catholic priests.

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"I think he was very brave, possibly foolish, but definitely brave."

Driven underground by Elizabeth I's repression of their faith, Roman Catholics had had high hopes their fellow countrymen would be more tolerant towards their religion when James had taken the throne.

He had earlier hinted of allowing Catholics more freedom in their religion, but this proved not to be with more laws passed forbidding them to worship.

They met in secret, fearful of imprisonment, death and confiscation of their lands, always on the look-out for spies who would report their activities.

It was against this increasingly desperate background that Guy Fawkes became one of the 13 conspirators led by Robert Catesby determined to kill the King in the hope a Catholic would replace him.

Mr Horton-Fawkes, who has brothers Guy and John, said a branch of his family had taken over the Fawkes family home in York hundreds of years ago.

"I have been aware that we were relatives since I was a child - I haven't traced my family tree but I think that would be very interesting," said Mr Horton-Fawkes, who works in the additional learning support team at Otley College.

"From what I understand there probably are not too many of us left - the male side of the family is few in number.

"I am proud to be a part of the Guy Fawkes story. It is a fascinating story and not quite as simple as we are probably taught when we are young.

"I think most people's knowledge of why we celebrate Bonfire Night is very poor. Having researched a bit, I can understand why he felt so passionately and would have got involved - the Catholics were desperate at that time and they felt blowing up Parliament was the only answer."

n Are you related to anyone famous in history? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

factfile: Guy Fawkes

n Guy Fawkes was the son of Edward Fawkes, the proctor of the court of York, and was born at Stonegate in the city in 1570.

n He was educated at St Peter's School, York - a plaque hangs on the building's wall today giving details of its link with history.

n At the age of 21 Fawkes left England for Holland to fight as a soldier for 12 years, becoming highly-skilled in the use of gunpowder.

n Concerned about the plight of Catholics in England, he returned to his homeland in 1604 and within months had been introduced to Robert Catesby and became part of the Gunpowder Plot.

n He was captured on November 4 at around midnight, just hours from fulfilling his mission to detonate gunpowder below Parliament.

n He refused to talk but after four days of torture eventually confessed on the rack. He was hung, drawn and quartered on January 31, 1606.

n Bonfires were lit all around the country in thankfulness for the plot being foiled and have been for 400 hundred years since.