i. 246–76). He received a pardon from the queen, but was subject to further annoyance from Hugh Hare, against whom he petitioned the council on 17 Dec. 1581, stating that he had deserved better of his prince and country than to be thus tormented by a cunning and shameless usurer (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1581–90, p. 33). He found sureties for his debts, one of whom was Sir John Conway [q. v.], a connection of his mother's.
In July 1582 he asked leave to travel for three years, and left the country ‘with doubtful mind as to his return;’ he began to ‘mistrust his advancement in England.’ He still pretended to reveal the secrets of the catholics to Burghley, but in reality was seeking to serve their cause. He began by strenuously urging a policy of conciliation towards them in England, and recommending pardon for some of the more distinguished catholic refugees, like John and Thomas Roper, Sir Thomas Copley [q. v.], and Charles Neville, sixth earl of Westmorland [q. v.], who, through the Conways, seems to have been distantly connected with Parry. But by degrees he became persuaded of the necessity for more violent courses; he fell into the hands of Charles Paget [q. v.] and Thomas Morgan (1543–1606?) [q. v.], and the reading of Cardinal Allen's works seems to have suggested to him the lawfulness of assassinating Elizabeth. He sought approval of his scheme in various quarters, but it seems to have been generally discountenanced. At Milan he ‘justified himself in religion before the inquisitor;’ thence he proceeded to Venice, and back to Lyons and Paris. In Paris he had an interview with Thomas Morgan and Paget, who, according to the later account by Robert Parsons, sent Parry to England without Parsons's knowledge, where he revealed their plans (Letters, &c., of Cardinal Allen, p. 392).
Parry landed at Rye in January 1584, and proceeded at once to court, where he disclosed the existence of a plot to murder the queen and organise an invasion from Scotland to liberate Mary and place her on the throne. On the strength of this revelation he demanded the mastership of St. Catherine's Hospital, near the Tower, but was refused. Meanwhile he received a reply from Cardinal Como to a letter he had addressed to the pope from Milan. He considered it a complete approval of his plan to murder Elizabeth, and it was generally accepted as such when published in England. The letter, however, contains no reference to any definite scheme, and merely expresses general approval of Parry's intentions; its significance entirely depends upon what Parry had informed the pope his intentions were, and that is not known.
Parry still hesitated, and resolved to try the effect of a protest in parliament against the persecution of catholics before proceeding to extreme measures. With this object he was elected, on 11 Nov. 1584, member for Queenborough, Kent. Meanwhile another perusal of Cardinal Allen's book seems to have strengthened his original determination, and he had various conferences with Edmund Neville (1560?–1618) [q. v.], whom he terms his ‘cousin;’ according to their confessions they both plotted treason, but each disclaimed any intention of carrying it out.
Parliament met on 23 Nov., and one of its first acts was to pass a bill ‘against jesuits, seminary priests, and other such-like disobedient persons.’ It met with unanimous approval, but on the third reading, on 17 Dec., Parry rose in his place and denounced it as ‘a measure savouring of treasons, full of blood, danger, and despair to English subjects, and pregnant with fines and forfeitures which would go to enrich not the queen, but private individuals.’ The house was astounded, and Parry was committed to the sergeant-at-arms, placed on his knees at the bar, and required to explain his words. He was carried off in custody and examined by the council. The next day he was released by an order from the queen (D'Ewes, Journal, pp. 340–1).
Six weeks afterwards Neville informed against his fellow-conspirator, stating that he had plotted to murder the queen while she was driving in the park. Parry was arrested on a charge of high treason, and placed in the Tower, whence he wrote a full confession to the queen and sent letters to Burghley and Leicester. On 11 Feb. 1584–5 he was expelled from parliament, and on 18 Feb. his trial began. Probably in the hope of pardon he pleaded guilty, but he subsequently declared his innocence, said that his confession was a tissue of falsehoods, and that Como had never given any countenance to the murder. He was condemned to death, and executed on 2 March in Westminster Palace Yard. On the scaffold he again declared his innocence, and appealed to the queen for a more lenient treatment of her catholic subjects. Special prayers and thanksgivings were ordered to be used in churches for the preservation of the queen after the discovery of Parry's plot (cf. An Order of Praier and Thanksgiving … with a short extract of William Parries Voluntarie Confession written with his owne hand, 1584, 4to).
An account of Parry's execution is among the manuscripts of Lord Calthorpe, vol. xxxi.