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 encrypted messages, the conspirators could not keep their intentions a secret from the counter-intelligence operation run by Sir Francis Walsingham. Their courier, Gifford, was a double agent, and Walsingham had a good 'Decypherer' working for him. Walsingham ensured that Mary was fully implicated in the plot before pouncing, thus ensuring the plotters' conviction on charges of treason. Babington and his friend were captured and executed in 1586, Mary herself executed in the following year.
The story of the Babington Plot is dramatised in the novel "Conies in the Hay" by Jane Lane. (ISBN 0755108353).