Professor Ged Martin recalls the claim made by a local that he suffered a blow against Queen Victoria
After 64 years on the throne, Queen Victoria was so revered that it is hard to believe that she was the target of assassination attempts earlier in her reign.
Most would-be attackers were sad characters. Severely handicapped – he could barely walk – the teenager John Bean loaded a pistol with tobacco and shot Her Majesty at close range in 1842. His call for help was answered with a prison sentence with forced labor.
On June 27, 1850, the Queen visited the Piccadilly mansion of her uncle, the Duke of Cambridge. The last of George III’s useless sons, Prince Adolphus, was on his deathbed and Victoria came to say goodbye.
News of their visit spread quickly and a crowd gathered to watch their monarch leave.
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When the Queen was leaving in a Landau, a small open carriage, a tall man with a military posture rushed forward and struck her with his stick.
Although she was visibly injured, Victoria ordered her driver to drive on.
The attacker, Robert Pate, was an eccentric and bitter ex-officer who lived alone and trained goose-step through Hyde Park.
He was sentenced to seven years of transportation and was one of the last convicts sent to Tasmania.
After serving his time, he married an Australian heiress and returned to England. Godfather died in 1895 as a wealthy man.
Four years later, with remarkably bad taste, his cane came up for auction with its brass ferrule that had crushed Her Majesty’s bonnet.
This prompted a Harold Wood resident to reveal the true story of Queen Victoria’s escape.
Reverend William Holder was a pastor in the Congregational Church who had retired to King Alfred Road.
On that fateful day, 49 years earlier, he had headed the Piccadilly crowd waiting to see their ruler. The arrogant godfather had tried to push him aside, but Holder remembered, “I stubbornly refused to move to get a good look at the queen. I wanted nobody to push me out of my position. “
His tenacity probably saved the monarch’s life.
As the Queen’s Landau swept out of the gates, Holder remembered the man behind him “lifting his stick and making a desperate attempt to strike Her Majesty with a terrible blow on the head.”
Even though he was obviously a few inches taller than the teen blocking him, Godfather wasn’t tall enough to lean directly over the young Holder.
“Fortunately, the full force of the blow was put on my head,” explained Holder. The Queen was only slightly injured.
“Happily” is a nice gesture: Reverend William Holder was a royalist and a patriot!
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The “numbing” blow threw him against the queen’s carriage.
Assuming he was the attacker, he was arrested by the police, but someone shouted, “This is the wrong man; it’s the back one, ”and Godfather was arrested.
Although deeply dazed by the blow, Holder retained vivid memories of the incident.
He heard the queen calmly say to her coachman: “I am not injured, keep going”.
An elderly American tourist (yes, we had tourists back then) shouted “God bless your majesty that you are saved”.
The police protected Godfather from the angry crowd who wanted to lynch him.
Half a century later, Holder was still suffering from the occasional headache and even dizziness from the blow he received to protect his queen.
He had retired from service in 1897, but the Congregational Church was not a wealthy organization. His pension was only £ 20 a year. (When the State Pension for Poor Elderly People was introduced in 1909, the rate was £ 13 a year for singles and £ 19.50 for married couples.)
Holder broke his silence in hopes that Queen Victoria might reward him with a job in the royal household.
Instead, he got a nice part-time retirement job, an open-air job with the chance to meet new people. He became a funeral chaplain at Manor Park Cemetery.