The Assassination of the Prime Minister: John Bellingham and the Murder of Spencer Perceval.
The Assassination of the Prime Minister: John Bellingham and the
Murder of Spencer Perceval. David C. Hanrahan. Sutton Publishing.
[pounds sterling]20.00. vii + 214 pages. ISBN 978-0-7509-4400-7. Dr
Hanrahan begins his story of the only occasion on which a Prime Minister
has been murdered with an account of Bellingham's assassination of
the Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval on 11 May 1812 and his subsequent
arrest by officials of the House of Commons. He then turns to
Perceval's background and career as a barrister and in the Commons.
After this he looks at Bellingham's life story and his false
imprisonment when on business in Russia. Bel-lingham felt the British
Government had not come to his aid and his sense of grievance grew. Mr
Hanrahan then recounts the inquest, trial and execution. The final three
chapters deal with aspects of the tragedy: the lives of those affected
by the murder; the debate over the trial (the haste with which it began
and the question of Bellingham's insanity); and the
'legacy' which looks at how Perceval the man was regarded once
people's outrage had declined. Mr Hanrahan writes well, has done
his homework and tells a good story. (G.F.B.)