THE fate of Guy Fawkes, whose effigy will be burnt on bonfires across the country on Saturday, may well have turned out differently if it hadn’t been for a man from Dodleston.
Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord High Chancellor, Lord Ellesmere and Viscount Brackley, born in 1540, was the prime advocate in the land at the time of the infamous Gunpowder Plot and presided over the trial of Guido (Guy) Fawkes and his fellow plotters who attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament.
The plot to destroy King James I on Tuesday, November 5, was unsuccessful and the perpetrators were all apprehended, jailed and sent for trial.
The trial took place in January 1606 in front of nine commissioners headed by Sir Thomas Egerton in his role as Lord Chancellor.
Sir Thomas had already conducted many trials involving plots against the Crown and had a fearsome reputation for extracting confessions before the trials by the use of the rack.
Fawkes , and others were subjected to this treatment and a record exists of his signature before his torture afterwards. As suspected the latter is barely recognisable.
All the plotters were found guilty and summarily executed by being hanged, drawn and quartered.
Local historian and chairman of the Dodleston Local History Group Bernard Dennis has become an expert on Sir Thomas’s life and regularly gives talks to local groups.
He said: "He was born close to Dodleston in 1540 as an illegitimate child of Sir Richard Egerton and Alice Sparke, a lowly maidservant from Dodleston Hall and his progression to being the second most powerful man of the times is a remarkable story.
"His titles can only suggest his importance but he had dedicated his life to his previous monarch Queen Elizabeth I and the roles he undertook had transferred to the new king after his accession to the throne in March 1603."
Sir Thomas died in March 1617 and his funeral took place on April 6 in the bell tower of St Mary’s Church in Dodleston.
Bernard added: "He chose St Mary’s for his final resting place where he could be close to his first wife, Lady Elizabeth, who died in 1588, and his first born son, also Sir Thomas, who died in action in Dublin in 1599."
Bernard Dennis MBE gives free talks on Sir Thomas Egerton, ‘Keeper of the Queen's Conscience’ and The History of the English Longbow and Cheshire and Flintshire Bowmen. A minimum donation of £25 to the Claire House Children's Hospice Charity is appreciated.
For more information call Bernard on 07966 436073 or email dennis@ bernard20.orangehome.co.uk.