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Victoria - Assassins

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165507.  Thu Apr 12, 2007 6:51 pm Reply with quote

Somebody mentioned this in a meeting but if it was ever posted I can't now find it, so here we go:

What happened when Queen Victoria met Mr Bean?

F: She wasn't amused.

There were various attempts to assassinate Victoria; she was attacked three times in 1842 alone. The characters involved sound rather like the cast of a Carry On film: the first attempt was foiled by the timely intervention of PC Trounce, while the second was perpetrated by John Bean, who shot at her with a pistol harmlessly loaded with a wad of tobacco. He got 18 months without the option.

All the would-be assassins were treated rather magnanimously, by comparison with modern standards. One got off altogether on the grounds of insanity, and none of them got more than seven years. Just try firing a wad of tobacco at George Bush and see if you're out in seven years.

165534.  Fri Apr 13, 2007 3:31 am Reply with quote

John Bean is also the name of the editor of the BNP magazine "Identity". He was instrumental in the formation of the National Front.


165540.  Fri Apr 13, 2007 3:51 am Reply with quote

Maybe the question should be

What did Queen Victoria think of Mr Bean?

as more likely to get the forfeit.

165554.  Fri Apr 13, 2007 4:35 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
Just try firing a wad of tobacco at George Bush and see if you're out in seven years.

You’d get life for the tobacco, alone.

Frederick The Monk
165644.  Fri Apr 13, 2007 7:08 am Reply with quote

There's a section in my new book about Victoria's assassins (don't all rush, it's not out yet). The attempts were:

1842 when Edward Oxford attacked her as she was riding on Constitution Hill in London. Oxford fired two shots at the Queen both of which missed and he was quickly wrestled to the ground. He was tried for treason but was found to be insane and committed to the Bethlehem Hospital (Bedlam) until 1864 when all that institutions criminal patients were moved to Broadmoor. Two years later he was offered a discharge and agreed to emigrate to Australia.

Two years after this attempt John Francis had another go, firing a pistol at the Queen as she rode in a carriage through St. James’ Park. He was hauled before the law on a charge of treason. In this case Prince Albert was sure that the man wasn’t insane, declaring that he was “a thorough scamp”, which seems like quite a polite way of describing someone who has just tried to murder your wife. The jury agreed that he was a thoroughly bad man and found him guilty. He was sentenced to death but, after much deliberation, this was commuted to transportation for life.

Shortly after this John William Bean fired a gun at the Queen, although it was only loaded with tobacco and paper, making it more of a novelty cigarette than a weapon. By now Prince Albert was bit worried that shooting the Queen was becoming a popular pastime amongst attention seekers who knew that, as the penalty for treason was death, most juries would pity them for trying something so futile and declare them insane rather than see them hang. So the 1842 Treason Act was passed making throwing things at the Queen, hitting her or pointing a gun at her a misdemeanour punishable by up to seven years transportation or three years imprisonment (with or without hard labour) and the option of a good flogging. Young master Bean received 18 months in prison. Neither he, nor any other individual convicted under the Act, was ever flogged.

In 1849 William Hamilton was transported for seven years for firing a powder filled pistol at the queen on Constitution Hill. He claimed he waned to alarm her – which he did.

Then in 1850 it was William Pate’s turn. William was unlike the other potential assassins. They were generally young men, often just boys, hoping to make a bit of a splash. Pate was a former army Lieutenant who fancied himself as something of a dandy and who took the opportunity, whilst walking on Piccadilly, to hit the passing queen over the head with his cane – one of the few occasions when Victoria was actually hurt by one of her assailants. Prince Albert concluded that the man was “manifestly deranged” but the jury disagreed and Pate was shipped off to the colonies.

Two more attempts followed, one in 1872 when Arthur O’Connor tried the old ‘fire an empty pistol at the Queen to alarm her’ routine again. He was promptly leapt on by the ever-faithful John Brown who received a gold medal from Victoria for his trouble. O’Connor received a year in prison. Ten years later the outcome was a little different however. Roderick Maclean fired a loaded pistol at the monarch as she rode through Windsor because, so he claimed in court, he had received a rather curt reply to the poem he had sent her. Such was the public outrage that Maclean was tried for treason. Not surprisingly the jury found him not guilty on the grounds of insanity and he was committed to Broadmoor. The Queen was furious however demanding to know how a man could be found ‘not guilty but insane’ when she had seen him fire the bullet herself so he was clearly guilty regardless of whether he was mad. Despite the pleading of the legal profession, who tried to explain that a crime requires criminal intent, Victoria would not be moved and so the following year the law was changed to allow a verdict of ‘guilty but insane’. The assassination attempt inspired William Mc Gonagall to write “Attempted Assassination of the Queen” which many consider to be the worst poem in the English language and almost certainly worse than the one from Maclean that left Victoria unimpressed.

165662.  Fri Apr 13, 2007 7:46 am Reply with quote

McGonagall agreed about the insanity:

Maclean must be a madman,
Which is obvious to be seen,
Or else he wouldn't have tried to shoot
Our most beloved Queen.


Long may she be spared to roam
Among the bonnie Highland floral,
And spend many a happy day
In the palace of Balmoral.

Because she is very kind
To the old women there,
And allows them bread, tea, and sugar,
And each one get a share.

And when they know of her coming,
Their hearts feel overjoy'd,
Because, in general, she finds work
For men that's unemploy'd.

165742.  Fri Apr 13, 2007 9:47 am Reply with quote



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