Story: Terrorism and counter-terrorism

Attempted assassination of the Duke of Edinburgh: Henry James O'Farrell (1st of 2)

Attempted assassination of the Duke of Edinburgh: Henry James O'Farrell

Henry James O’Farrell attempted to assassinate Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, during his visit to Australia in 1868. O’Farrell was born in Dublin, but his family migrated to Australia when he was a child. In 1867 he suffered a mental breakdown, probably influenced by alcoholism. The next year the Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Victoria’s second son, made a goodwill tour of the colonies. On 12 March O’Farrell took a pistol to a picnic put on for the duke at Clontarf, in Sydney, and fired at him, wounding him in the back. At first O’Farrell claimed he was part of a Melbourne Fenian (Irish nationalist) conspiracy. He later admitted he had acted on his own after dwelling on 'the wrongs of Ireland.' He was tried, found guilty and hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol on 21 April 1868. The duke attempted to spare O’Farrell’s life on the grounds that he was not in his right mind. In both Australia and New Zealand, O’Farrell's action heightened tensions between Catholics and Protestants.

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State Library of New South Wales
Reference: a128203
Photograph by Montagu Scott

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How to cite this page:

Lance Beath, 'Terrorism and counter-terrorism - Terrorism and New Zealand: the historical background', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/34656/attempted-assassination-of-the-duke-of-edinburgh-henry-james-ofarrell (accessed 26 October 2021)

Story by Lance Beath, published 20 Jun 2012, updated 1 Sep 2021