29 November 1603 – William Clark
Catholic priest William Clarke lost his head for being in cahoots with another priest to try to kidnap King James I.
The plan was to hold the king until he agreed to relax his stance on anti-Catholic laws, in what became known as the Bye Plot.
Bearing in mind James had only just got his hands on the throne, the scheming priests were nothing if not keen.
But other Jesuits got cold feet, fearing that if the plot was discovered the law would come down hard on the already beleaguered Catholics. So they outed the two priests to the authorities and they were promptly dealt with.
Although some sources state that Clark was done as a job-lot alongside fellow priestly plotter William Watson, he was apparently executed on his tod at Winchester on this day in 1603 – the first of three to be strung up, according to RC Bald in his book ‘The Chronology of Middleton’s Plays’.
Watch out for the others in December.
As for the Jesuits, their hope for leniency backfired – James threw all the Catholic priests out in 1604, so they’d shopped the plotters for no reason.