What Happened in May 1812

Historical Events

Assassination of a British Prime Minister

May 11 British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval is assassinated by John Bellingham in the lobby of the House of Commons, London. Ironically, descendants of both later stand for the same seat in Parliament at the same time but neither win.

  • May 11 Waltz introduced into English ballrooms. Some observers consider it disgusting and immoral.


May 18 John Bellingham, a Liverpool merchant who assassinated British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval on May 11, is hung for the crime at the Old Bailey in London

Famous Birthdays

  • May 6 Martin Delany, African-American abolitionist and physician (1st African American major in US Army), born in Charles Town, Virginia (d. 1885)

Robert Browning

May 7 Robert Browning, English poet (Pied Piper), born in London, England (d. 1889)

  • May 12 Edward Lear, English landscape painter and poet (Complete Nonsense Book), born in London, England (d. 1888)
  • May 12 Louis Ludwig Blenker, German-American Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Worms, Germany (d. 1863)
  • May 14 Emilie Mayer, German composer of Romantic music, born in Friedland, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (d. 1883)
  • May 17 Joseph Warren Revere, American Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Boston, Massachusetts (d. 1880)
  • May 19 Felix Kirk Zollicoffer, Brigadier General (Confederate Army), (d. 1862)
  • May 20 Gustav Adolf Mankell, composer
  • May 23 Henri-François-Alphonse Esquiros, French poet and writer (Les Vierges Folles), born in Paris (d. 1876)
  • May 30 John Alexander McClernand, American politician and Major General (Union Army), born in Breckinridge County, Kentucky (d. 1900)

Famous Deaths

AssassinationSpencer Perceval

May 11 Spencer Perceval, British statesman and Prime Minister (1809–1812), assassinated by John Bellingham at 49

  • May 13 Johann Matthias Sperger, Austrian double bassist and composer, dies at 62

AssassinationJohn Bellingham

May 18 John Bellingham, English merchant who assassinated British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval, executed by hanging at 42 or 43

  • May 21 Joseph Wolfl, Austrian composer, dies at 38