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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

Henry James O'Farrell's attempt to assassinate Prince Alfred.

In October 1867 Prince Alfred became the first British royal to visit South Australia as part of a worldwide tour with the Navy. The trip itself lasted five months and had been a success until an Irish man, named Henry James 'Farrell, attempted to assassinate the Prince.

The scene of the attack Source: The Dictionary of Sydney

During Alfred's second visit to Sydney, William Manning, President of Sydneys sailors home, invited the Prince to attend a fundraising picnic at Clontarf beachfront on 12th March. Using a revolver, 35 year old 'Farrell shot Alfred in the back of his right shoulder, narrowly missing his spine.

The assassin was immediately tackled by the crowd, who began violently beating the man. In the bustle a bystander was accidentally shot in the foot from a second bullet. As the crowds uproar continued, the police arrived and immediately arrested 'Farrell, who had narrowly escaped with his life.

Luckily for Prince Alfred, his wound was not fatal and he spent two weeks in hospital being cared for by six nurses, who had been trained by Florence Nightingale. Before long, Alfred was able to continue his travels but unfortunately the same couldn't be said for 'Farrell.

Upon investigation 'Farrell falsely claimed to be under orders from the Fenian Brotherhood but despite being anti-British and anti-Royalist, he later denied being a Fenian. On 30th March 1868, he was tried in Sydney. His barrister, Butler Cole Aspinall, tried to get 'Farrell found not guilty on the grounds of insanity and even Prince Alfred tried to get 'Farrell a lighter sentence. However, they were both unsuccessful and the man was hanged a month later, on the 21st April.

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