Perceval is best known for being the only British Prime Minister ever to be assassinated.
Born in 1762, the second son of the Earl of Egmont, he went through the Harrow and Cambridge route before becoming a lawyer. In 1796 he was elected MP for Northampton. In the House of Commons Perceval became a strong supporter of William Pitt and the Tory group in Parliament. When Henry Addington became Prime Minister in 1801 he appointed Perceval as his solicitor-general. The following year he was promoted to attorney-general.
In 1807 Lord Portland became Prime Minister and Perceval was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. He got on well with the King (George III) and supported his opposition to the emancipation of the Catholics.
Two years later, Portland died and the King invited Perceval to become the PM. It was a period of economic depression and unrest, and Perceval was not a succesful leader. He introduced the very unpopular, repressive Frame Breaking Act as a way of combating the Luddites.
On 11 May 1812, Spencer Perceval was shot when entering the lobby of the House of Commons. His murderer, John Bellingham, was a failed businessman who blamed Perceval for his financial troubles. He was later hanged for his crime.
In Bolton, it was reported that:
The people expressed joy at the news. A man came running down the street, leaping in the air, waving his hat round his head, and shouting with frantic joy, "Perceval is shot, hurrah! Perceval is shot, hurrah!"
though the official line, from a speech made by Stuart Wortley
, was that:
Mr. Perceval had great talents. He was anxious to see an administration formed upon a liberal basis, calculated to comprehend the talents and influences of the country, and to promote its security and honour.
Perceval is also remembered for being one of the least tall Prime Ministers in British history.
Oh, and he was my several-greats-grandfather