It is named after the chief conspirator, Sir Anthony Babington (1561 - 1586), a young Catholic nobleman from Derbyshire. John Ballard, a Jesuit priest and Catholic agent, persuaded Babington to become involved in a plot to overthrow and/or murder Queen Elizabeth I of England, replacing her on the throne with the Roman Catholic Queen of Scotland, who had for many years been imprisoned at Fotheringhay in the east of England.
Despite the use of coded messages, the conspirators could not keep their intentions a secret from the spy ring operated by Francis Walsingham. Walsingham ensured that Mary was fully implicated in the plot before pouncing on the conspirators and ensuring their failure and conviction on charges of treason. Babington and his friend were captured and executed in 1586, Mary herself in the following year.