John Frith (assailant)

Last updated

John Frith (b. c. 1760 - fl. 1791) was an Englishman who believed himself to be St Paul. [1]

On 21 January 1790, Frith threw a stone at King George III's coach as it travelled to the State Opening of Parliament. [2] As in an earlier case of assault against the King, that of Margaret Nicholson, Frith had sent multiple petitions to Parliament regarding his constitutional rights. [3] He believed that he had been illegally deprived of his livelihood as a lieutenant in the army after he had been forcibly retired by Jeffrey Amherst, who had "fabricated evidence of insanity against him". [4] Frith claimed that Amherst had sent "supernatural agents" to whisper in his ear. [4] As his petitions were ignored, Frith may have lobbed the stone in an attempt to gain the attention that he felt he deserved. [3]

George III of the United Kingdom King of Great Britain and Ireland

George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of the two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death in 1820. He was concurrently Duke and prince-elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg ("Hanover") in the Holy Roman Empire before becoming King of Hanover on 12 October 1814. He was the third British monarch of the House of Hanover, but unlike his two predecessors, he was born in Great Britain, spoke English as his first language, and never visited Hanover.

State Opening of Parliament event which formally marks the beginning of a session of the Parliament of the United Kingdom

The State Opening of Parliament is an event which formally marks the beginning of a session of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It includes a speech from the throne known as the Queen's Speech. The State Opening is an elaborate ceremony showcasing British history, culture and contemporary politics to large crowds and television viewers.

Margaret Nicholson Failed British assassin

Margaret Nicholson was an Englishwoman who assaulted King George III in 1786. Her futile and somewhat half-hearted attempt on the King's life became famous and was featured in one of Shelley's first works: Posthumous Fragments of Margaret Nicholson, published in 1810.

During questioning, Frith denied wanting to harm the King, and claimed he was trying to draw attention to his cause. However, he also claimed that people saw him as a messiah, and that when the moon was in the south its effects were so strong that he was unable to sleep near heavy buildings. [5] He was arraigned at Newgate Prison, but after attempting to explain that his "Christ-like powers" had helped him to defeat the voices in his ear, he was declared unfit to plead by reason of insanity. [6] He was discharged on the condition that he be committed to an asylum, but he remained at Newgate suffering occasional "fits of rage" until December 1791, when he was moved to Bethlem Royal Hospital. [6]

Newgate Prison former prison in London

Newgate Prison was a prison at the corner of Newgate Street and Old Bailey just inside the City of London, England, originally at the site of Newgate, a gate in the Roman London Wall. Built in the 12th century and demolished in 1904, the prison was extended and rebuilt many times, and remained in use for over 700 years, from 1188 to 1902.

Bethlem Royal Hospital Hospital in London

Bethlem Royal Hospital, also known as St Mary Bethlehem, Bethlehem Hospital and Bedlam, is a psychiatric hospital in London. Its famous history has inspired several horror books, films and TV series, most notably Bedlam, a 1946 film with Boris Karloff.

As in the earlier Nicholson case, the King was portrayed as treating an insane person accused of a crime with forgiveness and forbearance. [5] [7]

Related Research Articles

James Tilly Matthews was a London tea broker, originally from Wales and of Huguenot descent, who was committed to Bethlem psychiatric hospital in 1797. His is considered to be the first fully documented case of paranoid schizophrenia.

Maurice Benyovszky Hungarian traveller and writer

Count Maurice Benyovszky de Benyó et Urbanó was a renowned military officer, adventurer and writer from the Kingdom of Hungary, who described himself as a Hungarian and a Pole. He is considered a national hero in Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

John Frith was an English Protestant priest, writer, and martyr.

Daniel MNaghten British Wood-turner & criminal

Daniel M'Naghten was a Scottish woodturner who assassinated English civil servant Edward Drummond while suffering from paranoid delusions. Through his trial and its aftermath, he has given his name to the legal test of criminal insanity in England and other common law jurisdictions known as the M'Naghten rules.

George FitzRoy, 4th Duke of Grafton British politician

George Henry FitzRoy, 4th Duke of Grafton, KG, styled Earl of Euston until 1811, was a British peer and Whig politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1782 to 1811 when he succeeded to the Dukedom.

Edward Oxford failed assassin of Queen Victoria

Edward Oxford was the first of eight people who tried to assassinate Queen Victoria. After Oxford was arrested and charged with treason, a jury found that Oxford was not guilty by reason of insanity and he was detained at Her Majesty's pleasure in the State Criminal Lunatic Asylum and later, in Broadmoor Hospital. Eventually given conditional release for transportation to a British colony, he lived out the remainder of his life in Australia.

James Hadfield or Hatfield attempted to assassinate George III of the United Kingdom in 1800 but was acquitted of attempted murder by reason of insanity.

James Brudenell, 5th Earl of Cardigan English noble and politician

James Brudenell, 5th Earl of Cardigan, styled The Honourable James Brudenell until 1780 and known as The Lord Brudenell between 1780 and 1790, was a British courtier and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1754 to 1780 when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Brudenell.

Jan Dekert Polish merchant and activist

Jan Dekert or Jan Dekiert was a Polish merchant of German descent and political activist. Starting in the 1760s, he rose to become one of the most prominent merchants in the Polish capital of Warsaw. He was an activist arguing for more rights for the burghers in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth while opposing Jewish merchants. As the representative of Warsaw, he was elected a deputy to the Sejms of 1784 and 1786, as well as to the Great Sejm (1788–1792). He was the mayor of Warsaw (1789–1790), during which period he organized the Black Procession on 2 December 1789. This was a major step towards the passing of the Free Royal Cities Act enfranchising burghers, as one of the reforms of the Great Sejm and part of the Constitution of the 3rd May, 1791.

Oliver Bond (1760?–1798) was an Irish merchant and revolutionary, one of the leaders of the Society of United Irishmen.

Walter Haddon LL.D. (1515–1572) was an English civil lawyer, much involved in church and university affairs under Edward VI, Queen Mary, and Elizabeth I. He was a Cambridge humanist and reformer, and was highly reputed in his time as a Latinist: his controversial exchange with the Portuguese historian Jerónimo Osório attracted international attention based largely on the scholarly reputations of the protagonists.

Colonel John Baillie (1772–1833) of Leys, entered the military service of the East India Company in 1790. He proved to be an excellent linguist and took up a professorship at Fort William College in Calcutta, India. In 1807 he resigned his professorship for the position of Resident at the Indian city of Lucknow which he held until 1815. In that year was commissioned a Lieutenant-Colonel of the 4th Native Infantry. He returned to the United Kingdom in 1816 and as well as managing the family estates in Inverness-shire he became Member of Parliament and a director of the East India Company.

Assassination of Spencer Perceval

Spencer Perceval, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, was shot and killed in the lobby of the House of Commons in London, at about 5:15 pm on Monday 11 May 1812. His assassin was John Bellingham, a Liverpool merchant with a grievance against the government. Bellingham was detained and, four days after the murder, was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. He was hanged at Newgate Prison one week later on 18 May.

Bannister Truelock conspired to assassinate George III of the United Kingdom in 1800 along with James Hadfield.

Yousab El Abah, also known as Joseph el-Abbah, originally called Yousef, was a Coptic Christian bishop, theologian and saint.

Francis Cockayne Cust was a British lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1770 and 1791.

Edward Loveden Loveden English politician

Edward Loveden LovedenFRS was an English Member of Parliament (MP), sometimes described as a Whig but often not voting with that party.


  1. Barrell, John (1994). "Imagining the king's death: the arrest of Richard Brothers" History Workshop Journal vol. 37, pp. 1-32, retrieved 6 November 2009 (Subscription required)
  2. Poole, Steve (2000). The politics of regicide in England, 1760–1850: Troublesome Subjects, Manchester University Press, ISBN   978-0-7190-5035-0, p. 91
  3. 1 2 James, David V. et al. (2008). "The Role of Psychotic Illness", J Am Acad Psychiatry Law vol. 36, pp. 59-67, retrieved 6 November 2009 (Subscription required)
  4. 1 2 Poole, p. 90
  5. 1 2 Poole, p. 92
  6. 1 2 Poole, p. 93
  7. Andrews, Jonathan (1997). The History of Bethlem, Routledge, ISBN   978-0-415-01773-2, p. 359