William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce: Biographical Overview

Take an interactive journey through the life of William Wilberforce!


William Wilberforce was born in 1759 in Hull, East Yorkshire. He graduated from university in Cambridge with the intention of following a political career and became Member of Parliament for Hull in 1780, aged 21. Four years later he became MP for the whole of Yorkshire and began to work for the abolition of the British slave trade. 


Wilberforce was a deeply religious man and later became an Evangelical Christian. He was a popular figure and was known to be charming and witty and a great public speaker. He campaigned for a number of causes: for legislation to improve the lives of the poor; education; prison reforms; ending child labour; and he was one of the founders of the Royal Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). 

A Committed Abolitionist

With the backing of his friend William Pitt, who became Prime Minister, Wilberforce became leader of The Society for the Abolition of Slavery. The society campaigned for almost 20 years to bring an end to British involvement in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The abolition campaign made them many enemies, especially among those who had made huge profits from the slave trade.


Wilberforce left Hull in 1792 and moved to Clapham, London to be closer to his work in Westminster. Within the local community he found friends who shared his interests in religion and politics. They became known as the Clapham Sect and they actively supported the anti-slavery abolitionists. 


He married Barbara Spooner in 1797 and they had six children. Wilberforce was a loving and devoted husband and father and was proud that three of his sons became clergyman. 

The Slavery Abolition Bill

Wilberforce attempted several times to bring private members' bills before Parliament to end Britain’s involvement in the slave trade. However, after many years of defeats, he finally achieved his goal on 25th March, 1807. But this did not completely prevent British people from engaging in the slave trade.


He retired from politics in 1825 due to ill health, but continued to campaign for the abolition of slavery. Finally, on 26 July 1833, as Wilberforce lay on his deathbed, he was told that the Slavery Abolition Bill, granting freedom to all slaves within the British Empire, had been passed by Parliament. Wilberforce died three days later. As a mark of respect for his achievements, his body was buried in Westminster Abbey. 


Glossary:

Abolition - officially ending something, making it illegal by law

Committed - devoted to something like a cause

Legislation - the process of making laws
Sect - a close-knit group, usually people who practice a non-mainstream religion
Transatlantic - crossing the Atlantic Ocean


The following pages reveal more information about different aspects of William Wilberforce's life.




 
Document icon Learning article provided by: Wilberforce House, Hull | 

Comment on this page

  • Posted by Selina on 04/02/2017

    This is a cool website with a lot of information. I'm currently researching on him and I think this website provides great information.

  • Posted by Emma on 03/02/2017

    This was very helpful. he was definitely a great man!

  • Posted by lulu on 10/01/2017

    it is cool

  • Posted by Immigrant on 10/06/2016

    Very good

  • Posted by What is that on 27/04/2016

    Cheers yo

  • Posted by Stevo on 27/04/2016

    indeed

  • Posted by leah on 22/03/2016

    this helped me with a school project thank you thid didnt give fast facts but helpful

  • Posted by cece on 21/03/2016

    My life has been saved, not as stressed as I was before. XD

  • Posted by Hello on 24/06/2015

    this helped!

  • Posted by jack on 24/06/2015

    it saved me

  • Posted by ella on 15/06/2015

    this has saved me xD

  • Posted by luca sarkis on 19/05/2015

    this has saved my homework

  • Posted by Roxy on 06/02/2015

    Wow this helps me with my high school homework

  • Posted by will on 03/01/2014

    This is useful for my homework on him. Amazing page about an amazing man!!!

  • Posted by Shannon on 16/05/2013

    I thought that it was wonderful to read about William Wilberforce because it was a brave thing to do to try and abolish the slavery in the world. He is one of the most inspirational prime ministers and all of the ones from these days are just idiots compare to him! William seemed like a wonderful,clever guy and I thought that it was good that he wanted to stop slavery!

  • Posted by james emeka okoroji on 10/05/2013

    late William was a force to humanity

  • Posted by A G Sammons on 07/01/2012

    How nice to read of someone who spent his political live working for the good of all today,s polotitions TAKE NOTE

This content is licensed under Creative Commons BY NC SA

Accessibility Statement | Terms of Use | Site Map

Copyright © My Learning 2017. All Rights Reserved

Website by: Grapple