Fenian Fire: The British Government Plot to Assassinate Queen Victoria

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9780007104826: Fenian Fire: The British Government Plot to Assassinate Queen Victoria

A historical investigation into one of the most serpentine attempts on Queen Victoria’s life that reveals for the first time the true instigator at the heart of government.

• There were eight attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria during her long reign; four of them were of Irish origin. The most serious of all was the ‘Jubilee Plot’, a conspiracy apparently hatched in New York by the Fenian Brotherhood to blow up the Queen, her family and most of the British Cabinet with dynamite at the great service of thanksgiving to commemorate the 50th anniversary of her accession, held at Westminster Abbey in June 1887.
• The plot was ‘uncovered’ by Scotland Yard with just a few days to go. Several of the bombers were caught, tried and sentenced to penal servitude for life. But – warned off in time – the master bomber escaped to America…
• Now, using recently declassified Foreign Office Secret files (marked ‘Fenian Brotherhood’), the author discloses for the first time the huge secret at the heart of the British counter-intelligence operation against militant Irish nationalists: the entire conspiracy was masterminded for its own reasons by a clandestine British agency reporting directly to the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury.

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Review:

'Christy Campbell has come up with a genuine historical scoop… In a superb piece of historical detective work, Campbell has pieced together every element of the conspiracy on both sides of the Atlantic, from the prime minister's house in St James's to the Islington garret where the "dynamitards" were arrested in November 1887… It was a classic case of an agent provocateur sting.' Andrew Roberts, The Times

'Campbell has uncovered an extraordinary web of personal and political intrigue… an enthralling tale… the pace never slackens… Particularly good is his account of the origins of Irish revolutionary nationalism… To tell this involved story against the backdrop of bureaucratic bickering, revolutionary intrigue and clandestine meetings between spies and informers is both original and clever. Campbell is making this type of breezy investigative history his own.' Andrew Lycett, Sunday Times

'The "jubilee plot" is such a bizarre episode that I would regard it as the product of a febrile imagination had Christy Campbell not documented sufficient evidence to remove all reasonable doubt… From Mexico City to Liverpool and from the House of Commons to Chicago coroner's court, the story moves at the pace of the best sort of adventure story. All the Boy's Own Paper ingredients are there… colourful characters and compelling story… Its account of Fenian organisation and activity makes a real contribution to nineteenth-century history.' Roy Hattersley, Observer

From the Back Cover:

Of the seven attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria during her long reign, four of them were of Irish origin. The most serious of all was the 'Jubilee Plot', a conspiracy apparently hatched in New York by the Fenian Brotherhood to blow up the Queen, her family and most of the British Cabinet with dynamite at the great service of thanksgiving to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of her accession, held at Westminster Abbey in 1887.

The story was a public sensation at the time. The empire held its breath as Irish-American bombers, who waged a five-year campaign of dynamite attacks against British cities, seemed set to bring off the most spectacular outrage imaginable…

Now in a masterpiece of historical investigation, the author Christy Campbell has unearthed the facts behind the most serpentine of all the attempts on Queen Victoria's life, and – using recently declassified Foreign Office Secret files, among many other archives – reveals for the first time the true instigator at the heart of the government. For the conspiracy's real target was never the Queen. It was one of her turbulent (Irish) subjects.

At the centre of an intricate web of plot and counterplot, involving Irish Home Rule politicians, feuding terrorist organisations based in America, rival British secret policemen and scheming cabinet ministers, was the ambiguous figure of General F.F.Millen – Irish-American rebel, soldier-of-fortune, journalist and informer extraordinaire. But his role in the Jubilee Plot was never revealed in the subsequent parliamentary investigation, and the historic significance of the plot can now be unravelled in all its fascinating detail.

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