British Executions

John Bellingham

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 18 May 1812

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown


John Bellingham was hanged for the murder of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval.

John Bellingham developed an irrational grudge against authority when a business venture in Russia he was involved in collapsed and the government refused to rescue him from the financial mess he was in.

On 11 May 1812 he entered the House of Commons via the lobby of St Stephens chapel and lay in wait for Lord Leveson Gower who had been an ambassador to Russia. When he saw him enter the house he stepped out from behind some doors and shot him dead. It was only then that he realised that it was not Lord Gower he had shot but the Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval. He made no attempt to get away and blamed the government for denying him justice.

On the 15 May Bellingham was tried at the Old Bailey for murder and made a long, rambling statement about his grievances. It took the jury only 14 minutes to find him guilty. The judge ruled that Bellingham had understood what he had done and sentenced him to death. He was hanged at 8 am on the 18 May 1812 by William Brunskill.

A strange fact about this case is that apparently the night before his murder Spencer Percival is meant to have dreamt that he was to be murdered in the lobby of the House of Commons. It is said that he told his family that very morning about his strange dream.