John Bellingham Shoots Spencer Perceval

John Bellingham

Late in the afternoon on May 11, 1812, John Bellingham shot and killed Prime Minister Spencer Perceval. A few days after the assassination, at court, his defense attorney tried to use insanity as the reason for what Bellingham did. Bellingham disagreed. He had his own story to tell.

Originally, John Bellingham worked as an accountant in a trading company. Then he chose to go out on his own and represented a group in a trading venture in Russia. Successful, Bellingham decided to do it again. Unfortunately, the venture failed. The ship was lost.

The main businessman filed for insurance. Then he received an anonymous letter claiming that someone had actually sabotaged the ship. The businessman blamed Bellingham and accused him of having a large debt. This debt stopped Bellingham from returning to England, and the authorities put him in jail in Russia.

After a year, finally released, he went on the try and sue the Russian governor-general. Upset at this, they put Bellingham back into prison. Even after his release a second time, he still could not leave Russia. He petitioned for help from the British ambassador, but they refused. Finally, he petitioned the Czar and received permission to return to his family in England.

Leading to the Assassination

Finally home, Bellingham started petitioning the government to give him redress. He felt that since they refused to help, they should pay him. It did not work. They refused. Though he attempted to give up for a short time, ultimately he did not. He strongly felt the government should have helped him.

Finally, on May 11, 1812, he went to the lobby of the House with two concealed pistols and waited. Not long after Spencer Perceval, the Prime Minister arrived. Bellingham walked up the Perceval and shot him. Perceval died. John Bellingham quietly waited in the lobby until the authorities came to find him. In court, he told his tale, but that did not stop his execution a few days after his trial.

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