Treasury Solicitor document (catalogue reference: TS 11/947 (10))

08 May 2012

The National Archives has published documents relating to the assassination of the British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval online, ahead of the 200th anniversary of his death.

Spencer Perceval was shot in the lobby of the House of Commons on 11 May 1812 by the Liverpudlian merchant John Bellingham and died from his injuries shortly afterwards. He remains the only British Prime Minister to have died this way.

Papers at The National Archives, available to view online for the first time, include letters and court documents from the trial of John Bellingham at the Old Bailey.

Eye witness testimonies, such as that of Henry Burgess, a Mayfair solicitor, paint a vivid picture of the assassination: 'He saw a gentleman coming forward towards the door of the house staggering and at the same time he heard a cry of "murder, murder!" This gentleman had his hand to his breast and exclaimed "oh!" faintly and fell forward on his face.' (TS 11/224)

Bellingham was tried and found guilty of the murder and executed on the 18th May, 1812, just one week after the assassination.

Spencer Perceval's will, completed only a month before his death, is also available to view online.

Read more

Records specialist Mark Dunton has blogged about the assassination and the related documents we hold.