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The spirit of rebellion does not run in Guy Fawkes’ family

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 November 2012

Keith Fawkes a descendant of Guy Fawkes pictured outside his bookshop in Flask Walk

Keith Fawkes a descendant of Guy Fawkes pictured outside his bookshop in Flask Walk

© Nigel Sutton

Guy Fawkes has become a symbol for dissent in popular culture as a masked anarchist hero of a comic book franchise and adopted by anti-capitalist campaigners who tried to occupy Hampstead Heath, but the spirit of rebellion does not run in the family.

Guy Fawkes and the gun powder plot

n Guy Fawkes was enlisted by Robert Catesby into a band of English Catholics who plotted to kill King James I in 1605.

n The conspirators first met at a pub on the strand called the Duck and Drake to draw up their plans.

n The plotters rented a cellar which sat under the House of Lords and moved gun powder to the undercroft.

n An anonymous letter hinting at plans to blow up Parliament was sent to a peer who alerted the King.

n A search was ordered and Fawkes was discovered as he was leaving his post as watchman.

n Fawkes was tortured and eventually revealed the details of the plan and the names of his co-conspirators.

n He was sentenced to being hung drawn and quartered, but managed to jump from the gallows, breaking his neck and avoiding any further agony.

Keith Fawkes, a direct descender of Britain’s best known terrorist, admits the closest he has come to emulating his ancestor is a spat with his accountant and a run in with Camden Council.

Mr Fawkes, who has owned Fawkes Books in Hampstead for 45 years, said: “It’s pretty hard to live up to, but I am still planning my great moment.

“People say Guy Fawkes is the only honest man to enter Parliament and I would like to try to stick to his principles. On the other hand I don’t want to be hung, drawn and quartered, with my body parts scattered around the country.”

Although the quietly spoken 70-year-old might not be plotting to bring down Parliament any time soon he can claim to have succeeded where his ancestor failed on November 5, 1605.

Occupy London sets up camp on Hampstead HeathOccupy London sets up camp on Hampstead Heath

At one of his family’s popular bonfire parties at their Muswell Hill home, Mr Fawkes surpassed his pyrotechnic predecessor when he singed a historic cedar of Lebanon which the Romans once planted around London.

“We practically burnt the fence and the tree down,” recalls Mr Fawkes, whose classmates often joked they might throw him on the flames.

Over the years the bookseller has been interviewed by Australian and Japanese radio stations about his links to Fawkes.

In recent years the anti-hero has emerged as a symbol of defiance including at Hampstead Heath during the summer when anti-capitalist movement Occupy set up a protest camp.

“He has become a symbol against sleaze, parliamentary sleaze and greed,” said Mr Fawkes, chairman of the Hornsey Historical Society. “If Guy Fawkes had succeeded MPs would probably have sent him the expenses for the gunpowder.”

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