Show ContentsWilberforce History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Wilberforce reached England in the great wave of migration following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Wilberforce family lived in Yorkshire, at Wilberfosse.

Early Origins of the Wilberforce family

The surname Wilberforce was first found in Yorkshire where they were Lords of the manor of Wilberforce, and descended from Phillip of Kyme, Lord of Wilberfosse. The parish of Wilberfoss(e) in the East Riding of Yorkshire was home to the family. "This place, from the time of the Conquest, was the property of the Wilberforce family, from which was descended the late William Wilberforce, the distinguished philanthropist; but the ancient family mansion and the estates were sold in 1710, and the lands are now divided among several proprietors, of whom Col. Wyndham is lord of the manor." [1]

Early History of the Wilberforce family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wilberforce research. Another 109 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1797 and 1833 are included under the topic Early Wilberforce History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Wilberforce Spelling Variations

Before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Sound was what guided spelling in the Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Wilberforce family name include Wilberforce, Wilberfoss, Wilberfosse and many more.

Early Notables of the Wilberforce family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was

  • Sir William Wilberforce

Australia Wilberforce migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Wilberforce Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Peter Wilberforce, (b. 1825), aged 23, English convict who was convicted in Lancaster, Lancashire, England for 10 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Bangalore" on 1st January 1850, arriving in Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia [2]
  • Mr. Peter Wilberforce, English convict who was convicted in Lancaster, Lancashire, England for 10 years, transported aboard the ""Blenheim"" on 24th July 1850, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) and Norfolk Island, Australia [3]

Contemporary Notables of the name Wilberforce (post 1700) +

  • Samuel Wilberforce (1805-1873), English prelate, Bishop of Oxford and Winchester, the third son of William Wilberforce [4]
  • Henry William Wilberforce (1807-1873), English Roman Catholic journalist and author, born at Clapham, the youngest son of William Wilberforce, younger brother of Robert Isaac Wilberforce and Samuel Wilberforce [4]
  • Robert Isaac Wilberforce (1802-1857), English clergyman and writer, Archdeacon of the East Riding of Yorkshire, second son of William Wilberforce [4]
  • William Wilberforce (1759-1833), British politician, philanthropist, and abolitionist, leader of the parliamentary campaign against the slave trade [4]
  • Richard Orme Wilberforce (1907-2003), Baron Wilberforce, better known as Lord Wilberforce, was a Law Lord in the House of Lords from 1964 to 1982
  • William Wilberforce Greathed (1826-1878), British major-general, C.B., Royal Engineers, the youngest of the five sons of Edward Greathed of Uddens, Dorsetshire, born at Paris 21 Dec. 1826 [5]
  • George Wilberforce Soulé (1849-1922), American businessman, founder of Soulé Steam Feed Works, descendant of another George Soule, the Mayflower servant and settler
  • James Wilberforce Longley (1849-1922), Canadian journalist, lawyer, politician, and judge
  • Wilberforce Vaughan Eaves (1867-1920), British Olympic bronze medalist tennis player

The Wilberforce Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Nos non nobis
Motto Translation: We not for ourselves.

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 11th September 2020). Retrieved from
  3. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th October 2020). Retrieved from
  4. Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 31 Jan. 2019
  5. Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020 on Facebook