This article is from the May 2012 issue of Total Politics
The only assassination of a British prime minister took place on 11 May 1812, when Spencer Perceval was shot dead in the House of Commons lobby. The perpetrator, John Bellingham, was a disgruntled and mentally unstable merchant who had spent five years in various rat-infested prisons in Russia. On his release and return to England he failed to get compensation from the government or have the matter brought before Parliament.
On the afternoon of 11 May 1812, Bellingham waited at the entrance to the Commons chamber with a pistol in a secret pocket inside his greatcoat. Spencer Perceval died almost immediately from a fatal chest wound. Bellingham was tried three days later and went to the gallows on 18 May. These hastily scribbled notes contain the announcement to the House of Lords by the Lord Chancellor, hours after the shooting, who requested “that an humble address be presented to express to his Royal Highness the Prince Regent the Horror which this House feels at the atrociousness of the fact of the assassination of the Right Honourable Spencer Perceval within the walls of Parliament and humbly to entreat the HRH to direct all proper measures to be taken without delay for bringing the offender to Justice”.
For more information, visit www.parliament.uk/archives