George Andrew McMahon: attempt on the life of H.M. King Edward VIII at Constitution Hill on 16 July, 1936

George Andrew McMahon: attempt on the life of H M King Edward VIII at Constitution Hill

Document reference: MEPO 3/1713

On the morning of 16 July 1936, George Andrew McMahon (real name Jerome Bannigan) produced a loaded revolver as King Edward VIII rode on horseback near Buckingham Palace. He was spotted by police and apprehended. In the scuffle that followed, the revolver landed in the road, hitting the hind leg of the King's horse.

In the subsequent court case at the Old Bailey in September 1936, McMahon was charged with producing a revolver with intent to alarm his Majesty. In his defence, McMahon claimed he had been approached by 'a foreign power' and paid £150 to assassinate the King. He further maintained that he had reported the plot to MI5 and had deliberately bungled the assassination attempt. His story was rejected as without foundation and McMahon was sentenced to 12 months hard labour.

Throughout his time in prison, McMahon continued to maintain his claims of an international conspiracy. He was released on 12 August 1937 and immediately began a campaign to clear his name. On 14 August, the Daily Express gave prominent publicity to a letter that McMahon had addressed to the Duke of Windsor (as Edward VIII, who had abdicated in December 1936, was now called).

During the war, McMahon was denounced as pro-Nazi. In 1940 he once again came to the attention of the police for possessing a number of important paintings, including The Countess of Chesterfield by Thomas Gainsborough.