WTF Fun Fact 12982 – Death By Turnip

On December 19, 1881 a former British Conservative MP (Member of Parliament) named Sir William Payne Gallwey suffered death by turnip.

It’s even more strange since he was out on a shooting trip at his estate, Thirkleby Park. But a gun was not the cause of his death.

How does one die by turnip exactly?

The Northern Echo reported, that Gallwey “was out shooting in the parish of Bagby, and in crossing a turnip field fell with his body on to a turnip, sustaining severe internal injuries.”

He received medical aid after his fall. But already in poor health, he was unable to recover from his run-in with the turnip. He died a few days later.

Gallwey was 73, and he just retired from Parliament a year earlier.

According to Victorian Commons (cited below), “Gallwey is not the only MP whose death involved a turnip.”

A second death by turnip

In November 1833 Whig MP Lewis Fenton died after falling from a window at his home. He

“Press reports suggested that there was ‘considerable mystery’ surrounding the circumstances of his death, hinting at suicide, but the ensuing inquest returned a verdict of accidental death. As Fenton’s widow explained to the surgeon who tended him, Fenton had been in the habit of going into the attic to look at ‘a piece of ground where some turnips were growing, to see that none of his cows were trespassing in it’. He had apparently over-balanced while standing on a chair to look out of the window.”

Assuring people it was not a suicide, Victorian Commons notes that “Other evidence showed that Fenton had been in a cheerful mood the evening before his death, when he had drafted a speech for a forthcoming meeting regarding a testimonial to the anti-slave trade campaigner William Wilberforce.”  WTF fun facts

Source: “Beware the turnip! Unusual causes of death among Victorian MPs” — Victorian Commons

WTF Fun Fact 12692 – The Monarchy Takes A Hostage

The word “hostage” seems a bit harsh, but that’s precisely what a British tradition was meant to imply.

The British monarchy began to share power with a legislative branch of government way back in 1215, with the signing of the Magna Carta. But over the centuries, the royals have become less “heads of state” and more “figureheads.”

Even though relations between the monarchy and the British government are good, Buckingham Palace maintains a centuries-old tradition (going back to 1600) of taking a member of British Parliament “hostage” to ensure the monarch’s safe return when they make a speech at Parliament. Most recently, MP James Morris was taken “hostage” in May 2022 when Prince Charles delivered a speech on behalf of the Queen.

However, that wasn’t the case in the 1600s, when King Charles I argued back and forth with parliament about how much power they should have. The people wanted a constitutional monarchy and the royals…well, they didn’t for obvious reasons.

There’s lots of detail we’re leaving out here (like an entire English Civil War, and a Second English Civil War), but the important part is that, in the end, Charles I was delivered to Parliament, where they proceeded to try him for treason, convict him, and execute him. Then for good measure, they abolished the monarchy.

So, as you might imagine, the monarchy is a little sensitive about the whole thing and while it looks like a nice joke to the rest of the world now, it’s rooted in something much more serious. Still, all the “hostage”-taking is agreed upon in advance and no one is in danger these days.

But the whole reason we’re here is that this tradition came to light on May 2, 2022, when Prince Charles gave a speech at the opening of Parliament on behalf of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen is suffering from intermittent mobility issues, so much of the royal family went in her place. And they did, indeed, take a ceremonial “hostage.” Conservative MP James Morris said he was the designated hostage this time around. Below, you can find him giving an explanation of the whole tradition. – WTF fun facts

Source: “Buckingham Palace has a centuries-old tradition of taking an MP hostage when the Queen or one of her representatives enter Parliament” — Yahoo News

until recently the house of lords parliament

Until recently

Until recently, the House of Lords Parliament building in England had a .22 rifle range in its basement, originally built for the Palace of Westminster Rifle Club in 1916.

WTF Fun Facts