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30th June 1981. Assassination, Murder, Execution.

Today in 1981 a man with a blank pistol fired at the Queen as she was going to Trooping of The Colour, in the Mall. (1) 

Nowadays the modern, largely symbolic figure of a monarch, can expect to die in bed, but in  more turbulent times monarchs only survived by their ability to win battles. They also had to live with the ever-present threat of assassination, murder or execution.

At the last count for England and Scotland, not counting death in battle, the figure was 17: 19 if the dubious deaths of Richard II and Edward V are included. (2)

From the mists of Anglo-Saxon times, history has identified St. Edmund, King and Martyr, last of the East Anglian Saxon kings, killed in 869/70. (3)

Edmund 1st. Late 13thc Genealogical Chronicle of English Kings.

Another King Edmund, (the 1st), as King of England, notable for having expelled Olaf from Northumbria and for supporting Dunstan in the reintroduction of the monastic rule of Benedict, was killed by an outlaw on 26th May 946, at his hunting lodge at Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire.

Edward another Martyr King of England, (canonised in 1001), having succeeded his father Edgar, was to be murdered at Corfe Castle in 978, reputedly by his stepmother Elfthryth. He was succeeded by the monarch everyone has heard of, Ethelred the Unready. 

Victorian engraving of death of Rufus.

William II, known as Rufus, was killed by a crossbow whilst hunting in the New Forest on 2nd August 1100, but the jury is out as to whether he was assassinated, which implies a highly-charged act of killing, often by an unknown.

He was one of three King Williams to have met his death whilst on horseback: His father the Conqueror and William of Orange (III), both accidental.

Edward II was murdered on 21st September 1327 and Richard II met his death imprisonment at Pontefract Castle. How Edward V (and his brother) died in 1483, is still a mystery, some say killed by their uncle the infamous Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III.

Henry VI was murdered in the Tower on 21st May 1471 and commemorated every year in May since 1923, by his foundations: Eton (1440) with lilies bound with blue silk and red roses from King’s College, Cambridge (1447).

In Tudor times, Lady Jane Grey, The Nine-Days Queen), executed along with her husband Lord Guildford Dudley in 1554, preceded by a 100 years, the most memorable death, the execution of Charles I in 1649.

One of the great survivors was Queen Victoria who escaped many assassination attempts.

(1) A year later she found a man called Fagin sitting on her bed at Buckingham Palace.

(2) Of the 8 kings ruling in Northumbria between 600-700 CE., 6 died in battle.

(3) Rex Anglorum last of the Wulfinga Line.




29th June 1905. The Open Road.

The 1835 Highways Act regularised the custom of keeping to the left of the road.

Car owners concerned that popular prejudice against motorists, along with police hostility, particularly against speeding, founded the Automobile Association Today in 1905, after a meeting at the Trocadero, London.

1914 AA cycle patrols.

Among the gathering was the racing driver and general manager of Dunlop Tyres, Selwyn Edge and London Palladium founder Walter Gibbons, with all agreeing to pay an annual subscription of two guineas to support the Association. (1)

An early AA member was No.12086, life-member, George Bernard Shaw the well-known writer elected in 1909.

By 1930 the AA had flourished with one million members now acquiring its badge, which was first issued in April 1906 showing two intertwined capital ‘A’s with the Secretary’s name Stenson Cooke underneath.

1913 early AA phone-box.

Speeding had been an issue since the original Locomotive Act required any powered vehicle in motion to be accompanied by three people, at least one of whom had to walk sixty yards in front, carrying a red flag by day or a red lamp by night.

The speed of the vehicle was to be no more than four mph in the country; half that in town.

1919 Motor Cycling Magazine article.

The Locomotive and Highways Act 1896 removed many restrictions, but until the 20 mph of the 1903 Motor Car Act ,there was a 14.mph limit.

The Act also introduced new penalties for breaking speed limits and reckless driving and required Vehicle Registration Plates.

A Driving Licence with ‘endorsement’ space for  infringement of the law now became compulsory.

In 1907 AA cycle patrols warned against police speed ‘traps’ by saluting, later to be khaki-uniformed AA ‘Scouts’.

However in 1910 a Test Case was brought: Betts v Stevens before Chief Justice, Lord Alverston, who ruled that a ‘salute sign’ offended against The Prevention of Crimes Act 1885, resulting in salutes only given to members, and only if there was no ‘speed trap’.

By 1922 a report in the Illustrated London News reported that the increase in car ownership was, ‘a hopeful sign of better days for the automobile, engineering and allied industries’, and with close on 160,000 members the AA was growing 94% faster than in 1914.

It was a Tory Minister of Transport (MOT), Oliver Stanley who re-introduced in 1934, the 30 mph in built-up areas, after its abolition by the 1930 Labour government. (2)

It came into force on 18th March 1935 in the time of MOT, Leslie Hoare-Belisha (to 1937), the same year as speedometers became compulsory. (3)

Wartime 1940 saw a 20 mph limit at night in built-up areas, and on 1st October 1956 30 mph became permanent under the Road Transport Act of that year, having been on trial since 1935.

In 1957 Heavy Goods Vehicles speed limits rose from 20 to 30 mph, so the discs displayed on the rear, could be discarded, but now radar was introduced to catch speeding.

On 12th July in 1967 the 70 mph speed limit was confirmed on Motorways and Dual- Carriageways, having been introduced in 1965.

The AA owned by Centrica in 1999 was later sold to a Private Equity Company having acquired The British School of Motoring. It eventually became independent again as a plc on the Stock Exchange.

(1) The rival RAC were to instigate the first Tourist Trophy Race (TT) in the Isle of Man in September 1905.

(2) 2nd son of the 17th earl of Derby and MOT from 22nd February 1933 to 29th June 1934.

(3a) All limits were removed with effect from 1st January 1931 owing to so many flouting the law..

(3b) Receiving Royal Assent on 31 July 1934 in the Road Traffic Act..


AA Developments Ltd. (GB).


28th June 1816. Littleport Martyrs.

Today in June in 1816 five of the Littleport Martyrs were hanged at Mill Pits, Ely. The rest were either imprisoned or transported to Australia.

List of martyrs at St. Mary’s Ely. The martyrs were all interred in one grave.

They had ostensibly poached and broken open Cross’s bakery on Fore Hill to find bread for their families as well as threatening to destroy the Denver sluice, which even today still controls water levels. 

It was a time of economic dislocation and high unemployment after the Napoleonic Wars, with grievances including the Introduction of the 1815 Corn Laws and enclosure of common land, which had robbed the country folk of their livelihood who had to watch grain being taken away to distant markets while their own children starved.

Then there was the breakdown of Poor Laws and change from yearly hiring to daily, reminiscent of the Zero Hours contracts of today,

Not surprisingly poaching became endemic with the 1816 Game Laws treating the offence with punitive savagery.

As a rioter said in 1816: ‘Here I am between earth and sky so help me God… I would sooner lose my life than go home as I am… bread I want and bread I will have’.

Globe Inn, since demolished.

Rioting started on May 22nd after unemployed men at the Globe Inn had met for a meeting of the village benefit club, which finding funds had run out, fuelled outbreaks of robbery from the local rich.

This was exacerbated by the local magistrate the Rev. John Vachell meting out harsh sentences; ‘Having been convicted of divers Robbery’. Death sentences, imprisonment and transportation resulted.

An angry mob marched from Littleport to Ely taking a cart carrying four, long punt-guns, but never to be fired, as they came up against the Cambridgeshire Militia and 1st (Royal) Regiment of Dragoons.

Eventually appearing before judges in Ely, appointed by the repressive Bishop, vengeance was exercised reminiscent of that against the local hero and rebel Saxon Thegn, Hereward the Wake, 800 years before. Thus the Littleport Martyrs became written into history.

The Church of England was seen at the time as allying with the rich and powerful and so disregarding the plight of the ‘lower orders’, which did irreparable harm to its authority in East Anglia and helped to establish Methodism there as elsewhere. 




27th June 1967. The First ATM?

Today in a north London street in Enfield was a pivotal date in banking for the first Automated Teller Machine (ATM) came into service; now customers no longer had to rely on banks which closed at

Crowds on the first day at Enfield.

Though some notion of an ATM had been around for some time, banking wasn’t ready for such a dramatic change, until John Shepherd-Barron, inventor and businessman employed at De La Rue the bank-note printer, met the Chief General manager of Barclays who seemed to like the idea.

Shepherd-Barron said he got the notion from the then prevalent chocolate bar machines after having been one minute late for the bank.

Carole Greygoose then 16 and working in the Machine Room at Enfield, said, ‘people didn’t realise what a huge difference the machines would make to their lives’: how right she was.

‘But there were teething troubles as ATM often ran out of cash and staff had to suffer irate customers next day’, Carole recalled.

However Debit Cards were still in the future and only approved customers were given vouchers, valid for 6 months, to extract cash, to be processed as a cheque.

Customers had to place the voucher in a drawer to withdraw £10 in £1 notes, with the machine checking its veracity by a 6-digit code to match a magnetic strip on the voucher.


The ATM was opened by Reg Varney of ‘On the Buses’ fame.

Now for the ‘spoiler’ for though Barclays has always been credited with introducing the first cash-machine at their Enfield Town Branch on 27th June 1967, commemorated by a Blue Plaque, this was only a single issue machine requiring a token or voucher.

The true ATM as we know it came in December 1972 in the UK, with the IBM 2984 CIT., designed for Lloyds Bank who still hold the ATM registered Trade-Mark.


References: 25.6.2017. Amelia Murray.

Barclays Bank/Pics.

26th June 1974. ‘The Social Contract’.

The 1970.s was a period of familiarity with the faces of Trades Union leaders as they trundled into No.10 Downing Street for beer and sandwiches and from their frequent TV appearances. (1)

The Labour Government had returned to office in 1974 after the disastrous Heath administration, notable for labour unrest and the bitter miners’ strike.

It was thus incumbent that new Prime Minister, Harold Wilson should make noises about reaching some settlement with the Unions as inflation and pay rises were out of control. So it was Today in 1974 that the two sides, the Labour Government and the Trades Union Council (TUC) finalised what was known as, ‘The Solemn and Binding Social Contract’, to restrain pay increases.

In return the Unions persuaded the government to enact The Trades Union and Industrial Relations Bill which repealed the Tories anti union, Industrial Relations Act.

By July ‘rough justice’ according to Wilson, was being applied: wage increases were limited to £6 a week with a total freeze over £8,500. Price controls were extended and cash limits applied to Government spending.

Then came an emergency law to reinforce voluntary pay curbs. Dennis Healey the Chancellor said, ‘something had to be done to bring this mad-man’s merry-go-round of inflation to a stop’. Unemployment rose to 1 ¼ million by August, the highest since 1940.

Early 1975 those employed in the public services received pay rises up to nearly 60 %: the TUC voted to accept the voluntary pay rise limit! (2)

By the mid-1970.s, the car industry was in death throes, with Longbridge a byword for militancy and restrictive practices led by Derek ‘Red-Robbo’ Robinson who 1978/9 was credited with causing 523 disputes.

Bank rate was to rise to 15% and mortgages went up to more than 12%; sterling plummeted and Healey, heading abroad, was forced to return from Heathrow to the Labour Conference, where he was allowed five minutes to shout above barracking, explaining there would have to be cuts.

Labour had lost the battle with the unions, despite Wilson’s commitment to end restrictive practices.

Even Jack Jones and Hugh Scanlon, both left wing trades unionists, went on TV to spread the message that the alternative to restraint was unemployment, but it was the shop stewards now in control. 

1977 saw all pretence of economic control by Labour abandoned along with the Social Contract.

(1) Hughie Scanlon, Jack Jones, Mick McGahy and Clive Jenkins et al.

(2) Early in 1975 pay awards of 74% to hospital workers, the miners 35%. Teachers received over 30% and most rises were over 30%. Electricity prices had risen by a record 33%. Wage inflation had reached 28%.

25th June 1483. Three Kings: Two Chancellors.

The year 1483 was the year of three kings [one not crowned], and two Lord Chancellors.

The execution of the contenders to the throne was described in Richard III. Act 3. Scene 3: ‘O Pomfret, Pomfret! O! though bloody prison/ Fatal and ominous to noble peers’! [Pomfret was the Elizabethan name for Pontefract].

Today in 1483 Sir Richard Grey, English knight and half-brother to Edward V, the younger son of Sir John Grey and Elizabeth Woodville, along with Sir Thomas Vaughan and Earl Rivers were executed at Pontefract by Richard III.

Richard had a murderous streak which brings to mind, among others, the fate of the two Princes in the Tower, one the uncrowned Edward V. (1)

It was on April 9th 1483 that Edward IV died, two days later his son was proclaimed king as Edward V, the Council setting May 4th for his coronation. However by June 17th after much in-fighting between the contenders for the crown.

However preparations were finally abandoned and Edward’s attendants were dismissed and banished along with his brother Richard. After their eventual disappearance, their uncle and ‘Protector’, was crowned King Richard III on July 6th.

Archbishop, Thomas Rotherham. Historic Notices of John Guest. 1879.

In a time when the fortune of the Lord Chancellor was connected with monarchy Chancellor Thomas of Rotherham was dismissed for questionable loyalty and conspiracy by Richard III and condemned to the Tower. He was replaced by Bishop Russell.

Rotherham survived to serve again under Henry VII who defeated Richard at Bosworth in 1485. (2)

(1a) Vaughan was keeper of the Great Wardrobe and Master of the King’s Jewels under Henry VI.

(1b) Elizabeth Woodville was later Queen Consort to Edward IV, the first commoner Queen

(2) Richard stripped Rotherham of the post on May 2nd 1483, (but remained on the Council), to be replaced by Russell on May 13th.

Ref: Year of Three Kings 1483. Edward V Timeline. Edward V.

Ref: Lives of the Lord Chancellors and Keepers of the Great Seal of England. Early Times. Visc. Lord Campbell 7th. Edit. 1878.


24th June 1509. Pursuit of Power.

Henry VIII, who only became King after his brother Arthur predeceased him, was the first English monarch to be addressed as Your Majesty as opposed to Your Grace.

Born in 1491 he lost no time in being crowned Today in 1509 with Catherine of Aragon, (the former spouse of Arthur), well aware of the potential obstacles to his kingship. 

Coronation of Henry VIII.

After the death of his brother the idea of a young boy following Henry VII was not favoured, and indeed there was no shortage of claimants including Edmund de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, born in 1478.

Edmund as the son of the sister of Edward IV, after the execution of Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick in 1499, was now senior male claimant of the House of York. Unsurprisingly Henry had him executed on trumped-up charges of treason in April 1513.

His confiscated lands, which included those, ‘late belonging to the monastery at Durham’, were later granted to Richard Willoughby and his heirs in 1545. (1

The Tudors were desperately unsure of their rights to the throne, as victors in battle against Richard III at Bosworth, the last of the Plantagenets, bearing in mind that Henry VII, was descended from the illegitimate line of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and his mistress Katherine Swynford, and ‘rebellious Welsh princes’. 

The liaison resulted in three sons with the grand-daughter of the eldest, John Earl of Somerset,  being Margaret Beaufort, mother to Henry VII, giving the King some legitimacy back to Edward III.

Lancaster finally married Swynford, with Richard II legitimising the children, but importantly they were forbidden from using the blood line, which didn’t stop Tudor claims, which inevitably sparked threats from the Yorkists.

As if this wasn’t enough, there was also the claim the 23 year old 3rd Duke of Buckingham, (the only Duke at the time), whose ancestry went back to Thomas of Woodstock, youngest son of Edward III.

Buckingham’s father had been instrumental with Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, whom he was to marry, in establishing the Tudor dynasty. He was thus a power in the land and later entrenched as a key member of Henry VIII’s court.

However as time went on Buckingham’s claim to royal blood and his assumed right to eventually succeed to the throne, marked him as a dangerous man; he was executed in 1521.

So ended for a time the complexities ensuing from the large number of claimants from the descendants of Edward III which spawned the conflict between Yorkist and Lancastrian.

(1) A member of the family of Wollaton Hall, Nottingham. Thoroton’s, History of Nottinghamshire 1677.




Ref: Tudor: What’s in a name? C.S.L. Davies. Pub. History Online. 25.Jan.2012.; 24-42 issue 325.

History v 97.