It is from William Wilberforce, MP and abolitionist, that we take our name. While a student at St John’s College, Cambridge from 1776 to 1781, he became close friend to future Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger. With other great men including William Grenville, they formed a circle of friends that proved to be a powerful force in British politics between the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Though he never became Prime Minister, as the two aforementioned men did, Wilberforce established a formidable reputation in his early parliamentary career as a great independent member and a leading orator of his day. The first of these qualities is our foremost reason for adopting his name. But we take it also to honour his extraordinary achievement in leading the work towards the abolition of Britain’s slave trade, the first of any major slave-trading nation to make such a reform.
While we are not constrained by the often very conservative positions that Wilberforce was to adopt in his later career, we strive to devise proposals that encompass compassion and understanding akin to that which he espoused.