33 min

Episode Four: The Bricklayer Killing Victoria

    • History

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The 1840s were a revolutionary decade. France and Italy had been rocked by revolution; Queen Victoria and Prince Albert feared that Britain might be next. In April 1848, a movement demanding universal male suffrage known as the Chartists announced they would march on Parliament.  Lamps outside Buckingham Palace had been smashed by a crowd shouting republican slogans - the Royal Family fled, fearing for their lives. To the relief of the Royal Family, the revolution never happened; Victoria said her people loved order and security too much to allow the ‘promoters of pillage and confusion any chance of success in their wicked designs.’ But the Queen spoke too soon - just 6 months later, in amongst the crowds celebrating her 30th birthday was an out of work bricklayer named William Hamilton. And he was armed. As the Queen’s carriage approached, Hamilton pulled a pistol from the pocket of his tattered corduroy trousers, pointed at his target and fired.
Dr Bob Nicholson digs deep into the historical records and contemporary newspaper accounts to find out why William Hamilton became the fourth man in less than a decade to attack Queen Victoria. Bob’s journey takes him into the world of the Irish community in London, the political unrest of the 1840s, and the infamous floating prisons – the ‘hulks’.

The 1840s were a revolutionary decade. France and Italy had been rocked by revolution; Queen Victoria and Prince Albert feared that Britain might be next. In April 1848, a movement demanding universal male suffrage known as the Chartists announced they would march on Parliament.  Lamps outside Buckingham Palace had been smashed by a crowd shouting republican slogans - the Royal Family fled, fearing for their lives. To the relief of the Royal Family, the revolution never happened; Victoria said her people loved order and security too much to allow the ‘promoters of pillage and confusion any chance of success in their wicked designs.’ But the Queen spoke too soon - just 6 months later, in amongst the crowds celebrating her 30th birthday was an out of work bricklayer named William Hamilton. And he was armed. As the Queen’s carriage approached, Hamilton pulled a pistol from the pocket of his tattered corduroy trousers, pointed at his target and fired.
Dr Bob Nicholson digs deep into the historical records and contemporary newspaper accounts to find out why William Hamilton became the fourth man in less than a decade to attack Queen Victoria. Bob’s journey takes him into the world of the Irish community in London, the political unrest of the 1840s, and the infamous floating prisons – the ‘hulks’.

33 min

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