When Guy Fawkes was eleven, an important visitor appeared at Mount St John, in Thirsk, Yorkshire, the home of his Harrington relatives.
(I'd better add a disclaimer here, considering the surname. As far as I know, there is no genealogical link between my own family and this branch of Harringtons. It is amusing me though.)
The Harrington family were well known on the underground Jesuit circuit. Their house was full of priest holes, which were regularly put to good use. Guy Fawkes would have been very familiar with illegal priests nipping in and disappearing into hiding places.
In the summer of 1581, the priest was just a little more high profile than usual. It was Edward Campion (later made Saint), who was making use of the facilities. His sermons were stirring enough that fifteen year old William Harrington immediately joined the priesthood.
Guy was still only eleven when Campion (pictured above) was seized in Norfolk and taken to the Tower of London. After four months of torture, including three sessions on the rack, Campion was tried and found guilty of High Treason. He was hanged, drawn and quartered.
It was a foreshadowing of precisely what would happen to Guy too. Nor was it his only warning.
The whole Harrington family had been named as harboring him, and they too were indicted, losing property and status in the process. They openly converted to Protestantism to avoid further censure.
However, young William Harrington was in France by now, receiving holy orders. In 1592, he would return to spread the Catholic word around the South of England. He wasn't alone in that and one of his fellow Jesuits was captured. Henry Donne (brother of John) gave Harrington's name under torture. It saved Donne's life, allowing him to take orders in the Church of England instead.
For William Harrington, the cousin of Guy Fawkes, there was a much darker Fate. Also taken to the Tower of London for torture, he refused to name names. In 1594, he was conveyed to Tyburn and hanged.
There's no evidence that Guy Fawkes watched his relative die, but it's possible. He left for Flanders that same year.