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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/9

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Garnett
Garnett
3

account of the gunpowder plot on 4 Nov. 1605, a letter was found upon him addressed to White Webbs, where Garnett had resided till within the last six months, and the suspicions of the government were consequently directed to him before three of the lay conspirators had been apprehended. Salisbury was most anxious to discover the priests who had been confessors to the conspirators. Thomas Bates, servant of Robert Catesby [q. v.], stated that his master and another conspirator had been at Lord Vaux's house at Harrowden, with Fathers Garnett, Greenway, and Gerard, and that he had been sent with a letter by his master, `after they were up in arms,' to a house at Coughton, Warwickshire, the residence of the great catholic family of Throckmorton, where Garnett and Greenway then were. Upon this evidence the government,on 15 Jan. 1605-6, issued a proclamation declaring that the three Jesuit fathers were proved guilty of the plot 'by divers confessions of many conspirators.' Gerard and Greenway escaped to the continent. Garnett had addressed to the privy council, on 30 Nov. 1605, from his retreat at Coughton, a protestation of his innocence (Catholic Magazine, 1823, pp. 198, 201). He remained at Coughton till 4 Dec., when he removed to Hindlip Hall, the seat of Thomas Habington [q. v.], near Worcester, by invitation of Father Thomas Oldcorne, alias Hall, who had acted as Habington's chaplain. This mansion contained several of the ingenious hiding-places common in the dwellings of the catholic gentry (see description and engraving of the house in Nash's Worcestershire, i. 584). Sir Henry Bromley, a neighbouring magistrate, was commissioned by the lords of the council to invest the house and conduct a rigorous search. Garnett and Oldcorne retired to one of the numerous secret receptacles, and their respective servants, Owen and Chambers, to another. The house was surrounded, all the approaches carefully watched and guarded, and several hiding-places were discovered, after a rigorous search, but nothing found in them excepting what Bromley described as 'a number of popish trash hid under boards.' In his letter to Salisbury (23 Jan.) he said: `I did never hear so impudent liars as I find hereā€”all rocusants, and all resolved to confess nothing; what danger soever they incur.' On the fourth day of the search the two servants gave themselves up, being almost starved to death. The two Jesuits, overcome by the confinement and foul air, also surrendered. Garnett afterwards said that 'if they could have had liberty for only half a day from the blockade,' they could have made the place tenable for a quarter of a year. A contemporary manuscript states that 'marmalade and other sweetmeats were found there lying by them;' but that they had been chiefly supported by broths and warm drinks conveyed by a reed `through a little hole in a chimney that backed another chimney in a gentlewoman's chamber.' According to Gamett's account, want of air and the narrowness of the space, blocked by books and furniture, made the confinement intolerable. They came out like 'two ghosts.'

On their way to London the prisoners were well treated at the king's charge, by express orders from the Earl of Salisbury. On their arrival they were lodged in the Gatehouse, and a few days afterwards were examined before the privy council. As Garnett was conducted to Whitehall the streets were crowded with multitudes eager to catch a sight of the head of the Jesuits in England. He was sent to the Tower, and during the following days he was repeatedly examined. He made no confession, although threatened with torture, the application of which, however, had been strictly forbidden by the king. The lieutenant of the Tower then changed his tone, expressed pity and veneration for Garnett, and enabled him to correspond with several catholics. The letters were taken to the lieutenant, but contained no proof whatever against the prisoner. The warder then unlocked a door in Garnett's cell, and showed him a door through which he could converse with Oldcorne. Lockerson, the private secretary of Salisbury, and Forsett, a magistrate attached to the Tower, were concealed in a cavity from which they could overhear the conversations on five occasions. The reports of four of these conversations are still preserved.

Garnett was examined twenty-three times before the council. He at first denied the interviews with Oldcorne, but was drawn into admissions which led to charges of equivocation. A manuscript treatise upon this subject by an anonymous author, and annotated by him, was discovered, and has since been printed by Mr. Jardine (see Gardiner, History, 1885, i. 280, 281, and Jardine, p. 204 n.) Writers of his own communion have regarded him as a martyr to the sacredness of the seal of the sacrament of confession. Garnett acknowledged that on 9 July 1605 Catesby asked him whether it was lawful to enter upon any undertaking for the good of the catholic cause if it should not be possible to avoid the destruction of some innocent persons together with the guilty. Garnett replied in the affirmative, but declared that he did not understand the application of the question. He admitted, however, that at