Rt. Hon. Spencer Perceval, MP

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About Rt. Hon. Spencer Perceval, MP


Spencer Perceval, KC (1 November 1762 – 11 May 1812) was a British statesman and Prime Minister. He is the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated. He is the only Solicitor General or Attorney General, and one of very few lawyers, to have been Prime Minister. The younger son of an Irish earl, Perceval was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge. He studied law at Lincoln’s Inn, practised as a barrister on the Midland Circuit and became a King’s Counsel, before entering politics at the age of 33 as a Member of Parliament for Northampton. A follower of William Pitt, Perceval always described himself as a ‘friend of Mr Pitt’ rather than a Tory. Perceval was opposed to Catholic emancipation and reform of Parliament; he supported the war against Napoleon and the abolition of the slave trade. He was opposed to hunting, gambling and adultery, did not drink as much as most Members of Parliament, gave generously to charity, and enjoyed spending time with his twelve children.

After a late entry into politics his rise to power was rapid; he was Solicitor and then Attorney General in the Addington Ministry, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons in the Portland Ministry, and became Prime Minister in October 1809. At the head of a weak ministry, Perceval faced a number of crises during his term in office including an inquiry into the disastrous Walcheren expedition, the madness of King George III, economic depression and Luddite riots. He survived these crises, successfully pursued the Peninsular War in the face of opposition defeatism, and won the support of the Prince Regent. His position was looking stronger by the spring of 1812, when a man with a grievance against the Government shot him dead in the lobby of the House of Commons.

Although Perceval was a seventh son and had four older brothers who survived to adulthood, the Earldom of Egmont reverted to one of his great-grandsons in the early twentieth century and remains in the hands of his descendants.

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Rt. Hon. Spencer Perceval, MP's Timeline

November 1, 1762
London, Greater London, UK
Age 29
Age 31
September 11, 1795
Age 32
Elm Grove
Age 33
October 6, 1797
Age 34
August 2, 1799
Age 36
October 22, 1800
Age 37
Age 38
Age 39