Portrait of Spencer Perceval (1762-1812), Attorney General for England and Wales (1802-1806), Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1809-1812), Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons (1807-1812), 1812
Spencer Perceval (1 November 1762 – 11 May 1812) was a British statesman who 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 murdered. He was also the only Solicitor General or Attorney General to become Prime Minister. The younger son of an 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 before entering politics aged 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 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 solicitor general 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 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 the spring of 1812, when he was assassinated by a merchant with a grievance against his government, who shot him dead in the lobby of the House of Commons. Perceval was born in Audley Square, Mayfair, the seventh son of John Perceval, 2nd Earl of Egmont; he was the second son of the Earl's second marriage. His mother, Catherine Compton, Baroness Arden, was a granddaughter of the 4th Earl of Northampton.
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