Wilberforce Way, SW19

Place Name

William Wilberforce (August 24, 1759 – July 29, 1833) was an MP, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. As an evangelical Christian he made numerous calls for reform including taking a stance against the slave trade in Parliament. After a 20 year campaign he saw the Slave Trade Act of 1807 passed, prohibiting the the buying and selling of slaves across the British Empire. However, the connection to Wilberforce here is the former Lauriston House where Wilberforce lived as a boy, and upon the former grounds of which this street is laid out. Wilberforce came to live with his childless uncle, William, and aunt, Hannah at Lauriston House, originally called Laurel Grove, on Southside, following the death of his father in 1768. He lived there for four years until his mother recalled him to Hull. When his uncle died in 1777, he left the house to his nephew, who used it as a country retreat when he became MP for Hull in 1781. William Pitt, the Younger, a close friend, stayed there on many occasions. He sold the property in 1786 to move closer to town. The passing of the 1807 law did not stop him campaigning against all aspects of slavery, although the trade was now outlawed he wanted to see the practice brought to a complete end. He continued to fight for the abolition of slavery in a campaign that ultimately brought about the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. He is buried in Westminster Abbey, close to Pitt. All that remains of the house today is the former coach house which bears a blue plaque.


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