Born: 23 Aug 1560, Thorpe, Surrey
Died: 8 Oct 1647, Hindlip House, Worcestershire
Father: John HABINGTON
Mother: Catherine WYKES
Married: Mary PARKER
1. William HABINGTON
Second son of John Habington, cofferer to Elizabeth I, and Catherine Wykes. At the age of sixteen he entered Lincoln College, Oxford, where he remained for three years, after which he travelled overseas to Paris and Rheims, where it is believed he embraced the Roman Catholic religion.
Upon his return to England, he and his elder brother Edward became involved with a clandestine group of Catholics in London protecting Jesuit missionaries. At the centre of this group was Anthony Babington, the primary force behind the Babington Plot, a conspiracy to murder Queen Elizabeth I and place her rival Mary, Queen of Scots, on the throne of England. Edward not only joined the Babington Plot, but was named later as one of the six conspirators who were charged with the contemplated murder of Elizabeth. Found guilty, Edward was executed on 30 Sep 1586 along with six others.
Thomas was committed to the Tower for his association with the Babington Plot conspirators. There he spent the next six years translating Gildas 'De excidio et conquestu Britaniae' , and writing a history of Edward IV of England. He was perhaps spared execution as he was Queen Elizabeth's godson.
Upon Thomas' release, he was permitted to retire to Hindlip, near Worcester, where his father had built Hindlip House. On Edward's death, Thomas had become the heir to their father's estates. He converted his house into a hiding place for Catholic priests, including Father Henry Garnet, and earned a reputation as a zealous papist. Over the next 20 years, Hindlip House became one of the most celebrated priest shelters in England thanks to the work of Nicholas Owen, a lay brother who was skilled in building priest holes. Edward Oldcorne is said to have resided there for almost 14 years.
After the failure of the Gunpowder Plot, Hindlip House was searched by Sir Henry Bromley, Thomas' neighbour at Holt Castle, at which time a total of 11 priest holes were discovered; Henry Garnet, Edward Oldcorne and two lay brothers, including Nicholas Owen. Thomas Habington was not present when the initial search began, but he returned from business while it was in progress, and told the searchers that he "denied any such men to be in his house", and voluntarily offered to "die at his own gate if any such were found in his house or in that shire".
Although Habington had no part in the Plot, he was arrested for concealing traitors, but was later released owing to the intercession of William Parker Lord Monteagle, his brother-in-law through his marriage to Mary Parker, Lord Monteagle's sister. After his release he was forbidden to leave Worcestershire, and consequently applied himself to further antiquarian research. He lived to the age of eighty-seven, and died at Hindlip House on 8 Oct 1647. He was succeeded by his son William Habington who rose to become a minor poet and author.
Dictionary of National Biography, 1895
Amphlet, John, of Cleat, ed., 'A Survey of Worcester', Worcester Historical Society
Fraser, Antonia, Faith & Treason - The Story of the Gunpowder Plot, 1996
Edwards, Francis, S.J., The Gunpowder Plot: the narrative of Oswald Tesimond alias Greenway, trans. from the Italian of the Stonyhurst Manuscript, edited and annotated, 1973
Edwards, Francis, S.J., Guy Fawkes: the real story of the Gunpowder Plot?, 1969
Hodgetts, Michael, Elizabethan Priest Holes: East Anglia, Baddesley Clinton, Hindlip, ???
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