Free Online Bible Library | Samuel Wilberforce

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Samuel Wilberforce

1805-1873. Anglican bishop. Third son of William Wilberforce,* he was educated at Oxford, inherited his father's political skill, strong sense of mission, and charm, but earned the nickname “Soapy Sam.” Brought up an evangelical, he was influenced strongly at Oxford by J.H. Newman* and by H.E. Manning,* to whom he was related by marriage. He broke with both on their conversion to Rome. Ordained in 1828, he spent ten years in parish work (more evangelical than Tractarian* in tone), and became successively bishop of Oxford (1845) and Winchester (1869), being known as a High Church bishop. Prime Minister Gladstone would have made him primate. Wilberforce was killed by a fall from his horse. He is remembered as the pioneer of the modern-style episcopate, organized chiefly for the pastoral care of the diocese; for pioneering the corporate training of ordinands (he founded Cuddesdon Theological College); and for the 1859 debate at Oxford on Darwin's theory, at which his intervention precipitated the later nineteenth-century conflict between science and religion.