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THOMAS PERCY (c. 156o-16os)

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Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 136 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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THOMAS PERCY (c. 156o-16os), one of the Gunpowder Plot conspirators, was a son of Edward Percy of Beverley, who was grandson of Henry Percy, 4th earl of Northumberland. Though brought up a Protestant, he early became well-affected to the Roman Catholics and finally an adherent. He entered the service of his cousin, Henry Percy, 9th earl of Northumberland, and was appointed by him constable of Alnwick Castle and agent for his northern estates, in which capacity he showed himself tyrannical and extortionate. In 1602 he was sent by Northumberland to James in Scotland to secure toleration for the Roman Catholics and returned announcing favourable promises from the king, the extent of which he probably greatly exaggerated; and when James, after his succession to the English throne, did not immediately abrogate the penal laws, Percy, although he had accepted the court appointment of gentleman pensioner, professed himself highly indignant and indulged himself in thoughts of revenge. Some time in May 1603 Percy angrily declared his intention to Catesby of killing the king, and in April 1604 he met Catesby with John Wright, Thomas Winter and Guy Fawkes, and was then initiated into Catesby's gunpowder plot, which met with his zealous approval and support. To Percy was allotted the special duty after the explosion of seizing the infant prince Charles and riding off with him on his saddle to Warwickshire. All the preparations being complete, Percy went to Alnwick in October and collected £3000 of the earl of Northumberland's rents which he intended using in furtherance of the plot, returning to London on the 1st of November. Meanwhile the plot had been revealed through the letter to Lord Monteagle on the 26th of October, and it was Percy's insistence at the last meeting of the conspirators on the 3rd that decided them not to fly but to hazard the attempt. On the news of Guy Fawkes's arrest, Percy with the rest of the conspirators, except Tresham, fled on horseback, taking refuge ultimately at Holbeche, near Stourbridge, in Staffordshire, where on the 8th of November, during the attack of the sheriff's men upon the house, he was struck down by a bullet, fighting back to back with Catesby, and died two days later. Percy married a sister of the conspirator John Wright and left a son Robert and two daughters, one of whom is said to have married Robert, the son of Catesby.
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