Spencer Perceval
(1762-1812)

Died aged c. 50

Spencer Perceval KC (1 November 1762 – 11 May 1812) was a British statesman and barrister. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from October 1809 until his assassination in May 1812. Perceval is the only British prime minister to have been assassinated, and the only solicitor-general or attorney-general to have become prime minister. The younger son of an Anglo-Irish earl, Perceval was educated at Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge. He studied law at Lincoln's Inn, practised as a barrister on the Midland circuit, and in 1796 became a King's Counsel. He entered politics at age 33 as a member of Parliament (MP) for Northampton. A follower of William Pitt the Younger, 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 Atlantic slave trade. He was opposed to hunting, gambling and adultery; did not drink as much as most MPs at the time, gave generously to charity, and enjoyed spending time with his thirteen children. After a late entry into politics, his rise to power was rapid; he was appointed as Solicitor General and then Attorney General for England and Wales in the Addington ministry; Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons in the second Portland ministry; and became prime minister in 1809. At the head of a weak ministry, Perceval faced a number of crises during his term in office, including an inquiry into the Walcheren expedition, the madness of King George III, economic depression, and Luddite riots. He overcame 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 early 1812, when, in the lobby of the House of Commons, he was assassinated by a merchant with a grievance against his government. Perceval had four older brothers who survived to adulthood. Through expiry of their male-line, male heirs, the earldom of Egmont passed to one of his great-grandsons in the early twentieth century and became extinct in 2011.

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Commemorated on 2 plaques

Spencer Perceval (1762-1812) Prime Minister lived here

59-60 Lincoln's Inn Fields, Camden, WC2, London, United Kingdom where they lived

This church was built in memory of Spencer Perceval born in 1762, appointed Prime Minister 1812, assassinated 1812, lived from 1808 at Elm Grove a house on this site

All Saints Church, Ealing Common, London, United Kingdom where they lived