Gunpowder plot document found in city archives

The fifth of November is a night to remember and the Lord Provost of Aberdeen Barney Crockett was keen to find out if the city’s archives had anything relating to the origins of Guy Fawkes Night.

Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night and Fireworks Night, is an annual commemoration observed on November 5, across the United Kingdom, which relates to the events of November 5, 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords.

To celebrate the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life people lit bonfires around London. Months later the Observance of November 5 Act was introduced and enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure.

A keen historian the Lord Provost was pleased to discover that there is an original document dated November 5, 1605, that relates to Thomas Percy, one of Guy Fawkes co-conspirators, which urges the King's "Officers and loving Subjects" to search for Thomas Percy.

The proclamation describes Thomas Percy as "a tall man with a great broad beard, a good face, the colour of his beard and head mingled with white haires, but the head more white than the beard, he stoupeth somewhat in the shoulders, well coloured in the face, long footed, small legged".

The Lord Provost of Aberdeen Barney Crockett said: “It’s fascinating to think that we have an original document which was issued on the very day of the Gunpowder Plot. The description of Thomas Percy as a tall man with a broad beard, long footed and small legged suggests if you’d seen him you would definitely remember him.”

Phil Astley, archivist, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives, said: “This compelling document is a tangible connection to the Gunpowder Plot and the events of 1605, which are still a source of public fascination after more than 400 years.”

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