John Frith (assailant)

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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]

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References

  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