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Wilberforce, William (1759–1833)

  1. Alvin J. Schmidt

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc1466

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Schmidt, A. J. 2011. Wilberforce, William (1759–1833). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


William Wilberforce was born in 1759 in Yorkshire, England. As a young man, he enjoyed life and soon gained the reputation of being a worldly, likeable individual. He was elected as a Member of Parliament in 1780, at age 21, and again in 1784. In 1785, he experienced “a deep conversion to Christianity,” prompted in part by reading Philip Doddridge's book The Rise and Progress of Religion and later by reading the New Testament in Greek with his friend Isaac Milner. Previously, he hesitated becoming a serious Christian because he felt he would have to forfeit invitations to elite social gatherings.


  • Wilberforce, William (1759–1833);
  • “a deep conversion to Christianity”;
  • “amazing grace”