Leslie Mitchell

Killer in the Commons

Why Spencer Perceval Had to Die: The Assassination of a British Prime Minister


Bloomsbury 296pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

Successful assassinations have not really established themselves as a regular feature of the political repertoire in England. For some, this may be a matter of regret. If, at the back of a politician’s mind, there was always the thought that he or she might suddenly be called away, political life might be a little more responsive to the public mood. But for the most part English history only provides examples of incompetent, would-be assassins and conspiracies that were always exposed by someone with a tender conscience. John Bellingham, however, brought it off. On 11 May 1812, he shot the Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval, in the lobby of the House of Commons.

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