Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (Third Series)

Research Article

The Derwentdale Plot, 1663.1

Rev. Henry Gee

Derwentdale is the valley through which the Derwent runs on the north-west side of the county of Durham. In this valley one of the first Anabaptist churches was gathered in the time of the Protectorate, and here, in the early years after the Restoration, a dangerous plot was formed, which presently ramified through the length and breadth of England. The object of this design, in the words of the man who discovered it, was

‘to rise in rebellion against the government, and to destroy Parliament, and murder all Bishops, Deans, and Chapters, and all other ministers of the Church; to break all organs, and further to kill all the gentry that should either oppose them, or not join with them, and to destroy the Common Prayer Book, and to pull down all Churches.’

(Revised March 15 1917)


1 The main original authority for the statements in this paper is the State Papers Domestic of Charles II, and chiefly those dealing with the years 1663 and 1664. The original depositions of many of those examined at York in reference to the plot in 1663 and 1664 survive, and have been preserved in a handsome volume collected by Thomas Thompson of York and given by him to Mr. Ralph Thoresby of Leeds. It is number 33770 in the Additional MSS. Add. 25463, f. 167, contains a list of persons engaged in the plot at Famley ‘to raise war against his Majesty and to subvert his happy government.’ These various documents have been supplemented with the Privy Council Register and the Assize and Gaol Books. A little farther information is contained in some of the Mickleton MSS. in the custody of Durham University, and also in the Hunter MSS. in the Durham Cathedral Library. References to these and to some other sources are given in the notes.