Spencer Perceval: Plaque for assassinated prime minister

  • 21 July 2014
  • From the section England
Death of Mr Perceval
Image caption Spencer Perceval was shot as he entered Parliament in the evening to attend a debate

A memorial plaque has been unveiled for the only British prime minister to be assassinated.

Spencer Perceval is said to have uttered "Oh, I have been murdered" after John Bellingham shot him on 11 May 1812 as he entered Parliament.

The plaque at St Stephen's Hall, which is near to where he was killed, was the idea of Michael Ellis, MP for Northampton North.

Mr Ellis said the brass plaque was a "fitting tribute" and long overdue.

Bellingham was a businessman who had built up a grievance with the government headed by Mr Perceval, who had been MP for Northampton, after the British Embassy had refused to help while he was in jail in Russia.

Image caption John Bellingham built up a sense of grievance after being refused help while jailed in Russia

He waited in the lobby of the Palace of Westminster for Mr Perceval, who was on his way to attend an inquiry into Luddite riots.

Descendant of assassin

Bellingham calmly walked up to him and shot him in the chest before sitting down and waiting to be arrested, reports at the time said.

He was taken to Newgate Gaol, tried and hanged in the space of just over a week.

Mr Perceval was given a memorial in Westminster Abbey.

But Mr Ellis started a campaign for another tribute after four patterned floor tiles, thought to mark where Mr Perceval fell, were removed by workmen during a recent renovation of the Palace of Westminster.

"People know more about the assassination of (US presidents) John F Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln than they do about our own prime minister," Mr Ellis said.

"When my constituents visit Parliament from Northampton, they want to see this spot and they are fascinated by this being the spot of an assassination of a former MP for the town that I now have the honour to represent."

North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham, a descendant of the assassin, also attended the unveiling.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow insisted no grudges were held against the current Mr Bellingham as he unveiled the plaque near to the assassination spot.

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