the end of July he was fully informed of the plot by Greenway, though, as this information was obtained under the seal of sacramental confession, he was bound not to reveal it. Catesby had in confession disclosed the design to Greenway, who represented to him the wickedness of the project, but could not prevail upon him to desist. However, Catesby consented that Greenway should communicate the case, under the seal of confession, to Garnett; and if the matter should otherwise come to light, he gave leave that both or either of the priests might then make use of the knowledge which he thus imparted to them. Garnett declared that he was struck with horror at the proposal, and as he could not disclose the secret, he used every endeavour to prevail upon the conspirators to abandon their undertaking.
Garnett's trial took place at Guildhall on 28 March 1606. There was a crowd of spectators in the court, including several foreign ambassadors and many courtiers. The proceedings lasted from eight o'clock in the morning till seven at night, and the king was present privately during the whole time. Coke, the attorney-general, conducted the prosecution. The proof of complicity was the conversation with Catesby on 9 June. Mr. Gardiner points out that there was no evidence which would have satisfied a modern jury, and that the proceeding was rather political than judicial, the fear of the pope making it impossible that fair play should be given to Garnett's supporters. He holds, however, that there was 'strong corroborative evidence,' from Garnett's apparent 'approval of the plot' at a later period, as shown by his association with the conspirators (Gardiner,i. 277, 278). Nothing was said of the conversation with Greenway, about which no doubt whatever existed. Mr. Gardiner surmises that the government adopted this course because they knew they would be assailed with the most envenomed acrimony by the whole catholic world if they executed a priest for not revealing a secret confided to him in confession. Garnett's defence was that he had never heard of the plot except in confession. He was found guilty, and sentenced to be drawn, hanged, disembowelled, and quartered.
Several weeks elapsed before the sentence was executed, and Garnett was again brought several times before the council, and interrogated as to the teaching of the Jesuits, and his own sentiments respecting the obligation of human laws and equivocation. At length, on 3 May 1606, he was drawn on a hurdle from the Tower to St. Paul's Churchyard, and there executed in front of the Bishop of London's palace. When he was on the scaffold the recorder vainly endeavoured to draw from him an admission of his guilt. He persisted in his denial that he had any positive information of the plot except in confession, though he allowed, as he had acknowledged before, that he had had a general and confused knowledge from Catesby. 'In all probability,' says Mr. Gardiner, `this is the exact truth' (ib. i. 282).
Many catholics sought for relics of a man whom they regarded as a martyr, and within a year of his death wonderful accounts were circulated throughout the Christian world about a miraculous straw or 'ear void of corn' on which a drop of Garnett's blood had fallen. It was said that on one of the husks a portrait of him surrounded with rays of glory had been miraculously formed. Hundreds of persons, it was alleged, were converted to Catholicism by the mere sight of 'Garnett's straw.' Archbishop Bancroft was commissioned by the privy council to call before him such persons as had been most active in propagating the story, and if possible to detect and punish the impostors. Many curious particulars on this subject will be found in Jardine's 'Gunpowder Plot' and Foley's 'Records.' Garnett's name occurs in the list of the 353 catholic martyrs which was sent to Rome by the English hierarchy in 1880, but is significantly omitted from Stanton's ' Menology of England and Wales, compiled by order of the Cardinal Archbishop and the Bishops of the Province of Westminster,' 1887, though in the second appendix to that work he is described as 'a martyr whose cause is deferred for further investigation.' There is a fine portrait of Garnett by John Wierix, engraved by R. Sadler.
His works are: 1. 'A Treatise on Schism,' 2. A manuscript treatise in confutation of 'A Pestilent Dialogue between a Gentleman and a Physician.' 3. A translation from Latin of the ' Summa Canisii,' with supplements on pilgrimages, invocation of saints, and indulgences, London, 1590, 8vo; St. Omer, 1622, 16mo. 4. `Treatise on the Rosary of our Lady.' Several works on the subject were published about this period. Perhaps Garnett's was `A Methode to meditate on the Psalter, or Great Rosarie of our Blessed Ladie,' Antwerp, 1598, 8vo (Gillow, Bibl. Dict. ii. 393). 5. Letter on the martyrdom of Godfrey Maurice, alias John Jones. In Diego Yepes' `Historia particular de la Persecucion de Inglaterra,' 1599. 6. `A Treatise of Christian Renovation or Birth,' London, 1616, 8vo.