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The Murder of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval (Hardback)

A Portrait of the Assassin

P&S History > British History P&S History > Social History P&S History > True Crime

By Martin Connolly
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 161
Illustrations: 40
ISBN: 9781526731241
Published: 4th October 2018



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England entered the nineteenth century having lost the American states and was at war with France. The slave trade had been halted and the country was in torment, with industrialisation throwing men and women out of work as poverty haunted their lives. As the merchants of England and America saw their businesses stagnate and profits plummet, everyone blamed the government and its policies. Those in charge were alarmed and businessmen, who were believed to be exploiting the poor, were murdered. Assassination indeed stalked the streets.

The man at the centre of the storm was Prime Minister Spencer Perceval. From the higher reaches of society to the beggar looking for bread, many wanted him dead, due to policies brought about by his inflexible religious convictions and his belief that he was appointed by God. In May 1812 he entered the Lobby of the Houses of Parliament when a man stepped forward and fired a pistol at him. The lead ball entered into his heart. Within minutes he was dead.

Using freshly-discovered archive material, this book explores the assassin’s thoughts and actions through his own writings. Using his background in psychology, the author explores the question of the killer’s sanity and the fairness of his subsequent trial.

Within its pages the reader will find an account of the murder of Spencer Perceval and a well-developed portrait of his assassin.

Connolly tells the story well and he has made a positive contribution to understanding this perplexing crime.

GoodReads, Robert Neil Smith

As featured in

Family and Community Historical Research Society

Martin Connolly’s account of the murder of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval is just one aspect of a book that throws a light on the politics and unrest prevalent as Britain ade its way falteringly into the early years of the nineteenth century. A fine piece of social history.

Read the full review here

Books Monthly

This book was easy to read, covered the information available about John Bellingham and his family, made some effort to understand his state of mind – given that no doctors were consulted or appeared as witnesses at the trial – and used several primary resources to support the author’s claims of delusions and disassociated personality. Connolly is a very persuasive writer. I managed to read the 150+ pages in less than 4 hours. I kept thinking ‘I really must put this down and sleep’ but I was transfixed, I wanted to know what happened next.

Read the full review here

Rosemarie Cawkwell, Blogger

About Martin Connolly

Martin Connolly was born in Belfast in 1951. Married with seven grown up children, he has completed research in Psychology, Theology, Judaism and the Holocaust. He has published in magazines, and produced teaching materials in the three disciplines as well as writing on the origins of the conflict in Northern Ireland. His other books include A Potted History of West Auckland, and The Miners' Triumph: The First English World Cup Win in Football History.

British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval is assassinated by John Bellingham in the lobby of the House of Commons

11th May 1812

Did you know... descendants of both later stand for the same seat in Parliament at the same time but neither win.

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