Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Prime Minister Spencer Perceval Assassinated

Former British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval holds the unfortunate distinction of being the only Prime Minister ever assassinated.  Perceval is associated politically, first with Tory William Pitt (the Younger), and after Pitt's retirement with Henry Addington.

Perceval began late in politics, being in his mid-thirties when he took office as MP for Northhampton.  Sir Walter Scott met Perceval, and said that he saw in Perceval a man who "with the advantages of life and opportunity, would certainly rise to the head of affairs."  This quote is found in Denis Gray's "Spencer Perceval: the evangelical Prime Minister, 1762 - 1812".

Scott discusses being at the Honorable Society of Lincoln's Inn in his journal entry of May 11, 1828.  In this entry, Scott notes 'There was only one monument in the chapel, a handsome tablet to the memory of Perceval. The circumstance that it was the only monument in the chapel of a society which had produced so many men of talents and distinction was striking—it was a tribute due to the suddenness of his strange catastrophe.'

Perceval was shot to death by John Bellingham, who was disgruntled over having been denied Government compensation for a period of imprisonment in Russia.  Scott's visit and journal entry occurred 16 years after Perceval was slain; May 11, 1812.

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