Horrible Histories of Billiards

lord palmerston billiards
Lord Palmerston was a billiards pioneer and British statesman who served as Prime Minister in the mid-19th century.
Sadly, in 1865 at the age of 81, Palmerston suffered a heart attack while in hot pursuit of a pretty housemaid. Indeed it is believed that he was discovered in flagrante delicto upon his billiard table and that precipitated his demise.
Above is a photograph of Lord Palmerston's man cave which is preserved to this day. It is said that a ghastly apparition of the grim reaper holding a billiard cue has appeared to those entering the room.
The fateful words are then heard... "Fancy a game ?"

morgan earp plays pool
Twenty years later in the United States, in another tragic incident, Morgan Earp was shot by an unknown assailant through a door (note the shadowy figure) while playing pool in a Tombstone saloon bar.
The bullet passed through his back and shattered a ball.
As Morgan lay spreadeagled and dying on the pool table he whispered in despair into the ear of his brother Wyatt, unheard by anyone else and forever to remain secret, “That was the last game of pool I’ll ever play.”
Such was his love for the game!

It is well known that Mary, Queen of Scots, regularly enjoyed playing both golf and billiards. This painting of Mary (after Nicholas Hilliard) with one hand resting on her beloved billiard table is an oil on panel. It is inscribed 1578.
It can be viewed in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

mary queen of scots
On the 7th of February, 1587 a representative of Queen Elizabeth of England announced Mary was to be executed at Fotheringhay Castle, where she was imprisoned.
Mary spent the rest of that day and the early hours of the next morning, prior to her execution, writing goodbye letters to friends and relatives, bidding farewell to her ladies-in-waiting, getting in some practise at billiards and praying.
It is recorded that the executioner held high her severed head to display her scalp and hair. Her head was as round and white as an ivory billiard ball.
It was not old age that had turned what remained of her hair white, for Mary was scarcely forty when she met her death, but the misfortune and sorrow suffered throughout her life.
After her execution, it is said that Mary's headless body was wrapped in the cloth from a billiard table.

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