William Wilberforce 's Influence On The Social And Moral Life Of England

1827 Words Aug 31st, 2015 8 Pages
William Wilberforce was born in Hull, England in 1759. He received his university education in Cambridge. Described by those who knew him as worldly, wealthy and popular he was known for his wit, good conversation and humour. He enjoyed gentleman’s clubs, drinking and gambling more than study but managed the minimum requirements to pass his exams (Windschuttle 2008). In 1785 at 26 years of age he experienced what he described as his “great change”, and emerged from this period inwardly and outwardly a different person, with a strong Christian faith. Already a politician, Wilberforce considered the priesthood however John Newton advised him to stay in politics. Through prayer Wilberforce discerned that God had set him two tasks; suppressing the slave trade and reforming the social and moral life of England (Lam 2004). Wilberforce moved to Clapham, a village near London. Here he lived amongst an influential group of evangelical Christians who would later become known as the Clapham Sect (referred to here as the Clapham Group). They shared a strong Christian faith and were committed to living this out in their personal lives and in addressing the social issues of their day. Politician, Wealthy Gentleman, Evangelical Christian and leader of the Clapham Group; Wilberforce set about his life’s work.

To understand the tasks Wilberforce had set himself, it is necessary to discuss the moral climate and changing society. In pre-Victorian England, the upper class were by Christian…

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