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Spencer Perceval

Spencer Perceval, statesman and Prime Minister 1809-1812, has a memorial in the nave of Westminster Abbey. It sits on a window ledge and is by sculptor Sir Richard Westmacott. Perceval was shot and killed on 11st May 1812 in the lobby of the House of Commons by John Bellingham, a bankrupt man with a grievance against the Government which had unbalanced his mind. The monument shows a relief of the assassination and a figure of the dead Prime Minister lying on a mattress. Allegorical figures at his head and feet represent Power, Truth and Temperance. The monument was commissioned in 1814 but not unveiled until 21st December 1822 and cost £5,250. The inscription reads:

In memory of the Right Honble. Spencer Perceval Chancellor of the Exchequer - First Lord of the Treasury. This monument was erected by the Prince Regent and Parliament to record their deep sense of his public and private virtues and to mark the nation's abhorrence of the act by which he fell. Born 1 Novr. 1762 - assassinated within the walls of the House of Commons - 11 May 1812

Perceval was born in London, a son of John Perceval, 2nd Earl of Egmont, and his second wife Catherine (Compton). His parents had a manor house at Charlton, near Greenwich, in Kent and he was educated at Harrow school and Trinity College Cambridge. He became a lawyer and a Member of Parliament in 1796. In 1790 he married Jane Wilson and they had six sons and six daughters. The papers on his inquest are preserved in the Westminster Abbey archives. He was buried in the family vault at St Luke's church at Charlton and there is a bust of him in the church.

Further reading for Spencer, his father and brother Charles

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

"Spencer Perceval: the evangelical prime minister" by D. Gray, 1963.

"Sir Richard Westmacott, sculptor" by M. Busco 1994

Born

1st November 1762

Died

11st May 1812

Field

Statesman

Location

Nave

Memorial Type

Tablet

Material Type

Marble

Spencer Perceval
Portrait of Spencer Perceval, Prime Minister (1762-1812) by George Francis Joseph

[Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Spencer Perceval
Spencer Perceval memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2018 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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I’ve worked here for over thirty years and have seen many of the major services - it’s strange to realise that you are in a small way part of history.

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Pamela - Rector's Secretary

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