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Wilberforce, William

The Oxford Companion to the Brontes

Christine Alexander

Wilberforce, William (1759–1833), 

prominent in the struggle to abolish the slave trade and slavery in British overseas possessions. An adherent of the evangelical ‘Clapham sect’ and a graduate of St John's College, Cambridge, he responded to Henry Martyn's request for financial help for Revd Patrick Brontë in February 1804 by promising that he and Henry Thornton would each give £10 per annum. In 1810 Mr Brontë secured the release of William Nowell, falsely accused of deserting from the army, and a review of the case against him, by asking Wilberforce to request Lord Palmerston's intervention. Wilberforce helped to found the Church Missionary Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society, causes actively supported by Mr Brontë, and was a subscriber to Cowan Bridge School.