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The Attempted Assassinations of Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria became the monarch of the United Kingdom on the 20th of June 1837, less than a month after her 18th birthday. She remained as the British Queen until her death on the 22nd of January 1901.

Queen Victoria married in 1840 to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, her first cousin. She hated being  pregnant leading up to the birth of their first child, viewed breast feeding with disgust and thought that all new born babies were ugly. Despite this they had 9 children.

 

Her reign as Queen lasted 63 years and 7 months, making her the longest reigning British monarch and the longest female monarch in world history. During her long reign she survived 8 attempts on her life.

 

Attempt number 1 happened when the young queen was pregnant in the first few months of her marriage. Eighteen year old Edward Oxford’s attempted assassination occurred when she was riding in a carriage with her husband and they were on their way to visit her mother. Oxford fired his gun twice but both bullets missed their target. He was found guilty of high treason but acquitted after it was alleged he was insane.

 

Attempts number 2 and 3 occurred within one day of each other and were committed by the same person. In May 1842, Queen Victoria was in her carriage and travelling along the Mall in London when John Francis stepped out, aimed a pistol at her but it failed to go off. The next day, the carriage followed the same route, this time a little faster and with an increased number in her escort party. It was a deliberate attempt to provoke Francis to try a second time. This time the area was also covered by a large number of plain clothes policemen and as Francis prepared to take a shot he was apprehended and arrested. He was convicted of high treason and initially he was given a death sentence, this was later commuted to transportation. He was removed from the country and never allowed to return.

 

The next man in attempt number 4 was John William Bean, he used a pistol  that he fired at the Queen, but it was only loaded with paper and tobacco. Some people felt that the lesser sentence of transportation given to Francis and Oxford’s acquittal gave encouragement to others to make assassination attempts. Bean’s attempt although it was physically harmless was still punishable by death. Prince Albert on feeling that was too harsh a judgment in this case encouraged Parliament to pass a new act. The Treason Act of 1842, made it punishable by flogging and up to seven years in jail. Bean was sentenced to 18 months in jail, nobody was ever flogged for violating this act.

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  1. Terrie Schultz

    On March 2, 2011 at 2:36 am


    Fascinating article! I had no idea all those people tried to assassinate Queen Victoria. I loved the part about the disgruntled poet and the schoolboys with umbrellas.

  2. cacaritalucu

    On March 2, 2011 at 3:16 am


    nice article.

  3. Nikita Phadke

    On March 2, 2011 at 3:54 am


    Wow,The queen was very lucky,I must say.I didn’t knew about it,thanks for sharing.

  4. Baijayanti Pradhan

    On March 2, 2011 at 4:24 am


    interesting.

  5. lapasan

    On March 2, 2011 at 6:03 am


    Queen Victoria seemed to be endowed with luck. Any other person subjected to that assassination attempts couldn’t be as lucky as her.

  6. Freethinking

    On March 2, 2011 at 7:16 am


    Well it was certainly a good thing the guns weren’t accurate or the people good shots during this time in history. One thing about being on top is there are always some who want to knock you down. Great and informative article.

  7. BruceW

    On March 2, 2011 at 8:05 am


    I didn’t realise there had been any assassination attempts, let alone so many. Thanks for bringing this little-known bit of history to my attention.
    You say that several of the would-be assassins were found insane. But what were the motivations of the others? I’m guessing O’Connor’s was over Irish independence, but what of the others? Nationalists? In the pay of foreign powers? Republicans wanting an overthrow of the monarchy? People with a personal grudge against Victoria herself? Just a tiny bit more research could have made this an even more fascinating article.

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