In 1804, on this day in Archangel, British merchant broker and export representative John Bellingham had his travelling pass withdrawn because of the debt arising from the alleged sabotage of the Russian ship Soleure which sank in the White Sea the previous autumn.
Spencer Perceval reigns in John Bellingham's terrorsBecause the vessel was insured at Lloyd's of London the owners (the house of R. Van Brienen) raised a claim but an anonymous letter informed Lloyd's that the ship had been sabotaged. Soloman Van Brienen suspected Bellingham was the author, and decided to retaliate by accusing him of a debt of 4,890 roubles to a bankrupt for which he was an assignee.
Bellingham, on the verge of leaving for Britain on 16 November 1804, had his travelling pass withdrawn because of the debt. And then Van Brienen persuaded the Governor-General of the area to imprison Bellingham. A year later, Bellingham secured his release and managed to get to Saint Petersburg, where he attempted to impeach the Governor-General. This provoked the Russian authorities and he was charged with leaving in a clandestine manner, and again imprisoned. He was in prison until October 1808 when he was put out onto the streets, but without permission to leave. In his desperation, he personally petitioned the Tsar. He was permitted to leave in 1809 and arrived back in England in December.
Fortunately for Bellingham, by this time, the United Kingdom had broken off diplomatic relations with Russia and he received a more sympathetic response from the Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval (pictured) who arranged for compensation. His suprising intervention was due to his personal familiarity with the case; he is the only Solicitor General ever to reach the Office of Prime Minister. The outcome was a relief for Bellingham's long suffering wife who had begged him to drop the matter. Fearing for his sanity, she was desperately worried that he might actually be driven by his terrors to actually kill someone in authority.