Single Wilberforce Eventually Marries


It’s interesting that William Wilberforce was a single man when he started his campaign to abolish slavery. What caught my eye is that even though he was a man consumed by a righteous passion for human freedom, a passion that fueled his life work in politics and social influence, he still found the capacity, and time, to marry and have children. Six of them in fact.

Biographer David J. Vaughan writes in Statesman and Saint:

Wilberforce’s star was rising: he was financially independent, politically well connected, and socially influential. He was, as we might say today, a most eligible bachelor. Notwithstanding, only a few months earlier he had expressed his growing sense of loneliness. At age thirty-seven, he conjectured that his marital status would probably never change. “But I must not think of such matters now,” he wrote, “it makes me feel my solitary state too sensibly.”

As it turned out, the day after his book was released [his friend] Babbington “strongly recommended Miss Spooner for wife for me. We talked about it.” Two days later he dined with her and noted in his journal, “Pleased with Miss Spooner.” The next week was a whirlwind courtship. … Thus, only ten days after Babbington’s prompting, Wilberforce was engaged.

Over the span of thirty-five years, she brought him six children and much joy. One of his chief blessings, he later wrote, was “a domestic happiness beyond what could have been conceived possible.” He never regretted his hasty decision.

I agree with Suzanne, it is noteworthy that Wilberforce began his campaign with all the vigor, determination and focus of unencumbered youth. But he didn’t stop there. As he matured, he coupled his work with the stability and support that a wife and children can supply. Who knows but that their influence on his life enabled him to stay faithful to the cause to his very end.

If ever there was a single who could have claimed the gift of singleness for the purpose of serving wholeheartedly God’s purpose on this earth, it was Wilberforce. But he didn’t. He also fulfilled the call to find a wife and be fruitful and multiply. His was a highly productive life both professionally and personally.


About the Author

Candice Watters

Candice Watters is a wife, mom, and Bible teacher. She is the author of Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen, co-founder with her husband, Steve, of and co-author of Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies. They have four children and blog at