The only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated was Spencer Perceval, and The National Archives has marked the 200th anniversary of this event, which occurred on 11 May 1812, by digitising two key documents about the murder.
Among the papers of the Treasury Solicitor is a fascinating plan showing the House of Commons lobby which is where the assassination occurred. It shows all the ‘key players’ at 17:15 on 11 May 1812 by means of a coded system – circle no 1 is Spencer Perceval, having just entered the lobby, and circle No 2 is the assassin, John Bellingham, a merchant from Liverpool with an obsessive grievance against the government. This plan, which is part of the trial papers for John Bellingham, looks strangely ‘modern’ in a sense. Dotted lines show the routes that the assassin took immediately after shooting Perceval at point-blank range: Bellingham returned to the bench where he had been lying in wait earlier, making no attempt to escape. Continue reading »