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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

Queen Victoria’s Journal - William Hamilton’s assassination attempt on Queen Victoria, 19th May 1849

On 19th May 1849, William Hamilton fired a blank shot at Queen Victoria and her children as they travelled down Constitutional Hill on their way back from an evening drive around Hyde Park.

William Hamilton was a Bricklayer by trade but was out of work at the time of the attack. Not much is known about him prior to the incident but The Queen described him as ‘A young man who lives with Irish people & associates with them’

William Hamilton pointing his pistol at The Queen © Alamy Ltd.

As there was no bullet in the pistol, it seems William’s only intentions was to startle The Queen instead of actually injuring her. Perhaps the official celebration of The Queen’s birthday on that day may have sparked Hamilton’s erratic behaviour. On the morning of the incident, William attempted to make a sort of pistol out of a bit of wood, with the spout of a tea kettle but afterwards borrowed a small pistol from the landlady, which he fired off twice, then reloaded, & went out at 3 o’clock in the afternoon with it.


The Chief of Justice transported Hamilton “for the term of seven years” where he was sent to a prison colony in Gibraltar to perform hard labor for five years, before disappearing into obscurity in Freemantle, Western Australia.


Queen Victoria’s Journal:


“A dull morning quite early, but it soon became fine. My birthday was kept officially today. — The Augustuses breakfasted with us & brought their 3 dear Children so that there were 9 in the room, Immediately after breakfast our Boys & Philip & Gusty went with Mr Birch & Gen. Bowles to the Horse Guards to see the Parade, & Clém & I with the 5 young ladies, witnessed from the garden the departure of Albert & Augustus with all the gentlemen. The morning was so beautiful, that we remained sitting in the garden for ½ an hour. We afterwards with all the Children saw from the balcony the return from the Parade, amidst great crowds. All, had gone off well. — We lunched early with the Augustuses & then took leave of them with real regret, for I am very fond of both of them.”

"We went a little before 2 to St. James's, where we received the Archbishops & Bishops. I returned the following answer to the appropriate speech of the Archbishop of Canterbury, in which he alluded very nicely to my beloved Albert, "I return you my best thanks for your affectate congratulations, which it is always a great pleasure for me to receive on this occasion. May God's best blessing rest upon the Church & upon you, in the discharge of your sacred & important duties." All the Royal Family, including Mama (except Aunt Gloucester were present. Then followed the Drawingroom, which was immensely full & very brilliant, lasting till nearly 4. The day beautiful. After resting a little, drove out with Alice, Lenchen, Affie, & Flora Mc Donald. As we were coming home & going down Constitution Hill, we heard the report of a pistol quite close to us & on turning round, saw a man being seized, meaning a coarse flannel jacket. No one thank God! was hit & Gen: Wemyss & Renwick (who was sitting behind) are both of the opinion that there was no bullet in the pistol, judging from the slightness of the report."



© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2012

© Bodleian Libraries © ProQuest

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