Chapter

‘Too precipitate’?: William Wilberforce and Barbara Spooner

Anne Stott

in Wilberforce

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199699391
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739132 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199699391.003.0008
‘Too precipitate’?: William Wilberforce and Barbara Spooner

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This chapter begins with an account of Wilberforce’s Practical View (1797). It then describes his precipitate engagement in Bath to Barbara Spooner. The couple’s honeymoon was spent visiting Hannah More’s Sunday schools in the Mendips. On their marriage they moved to Broomfield on Clapham Common. Much of Wilberforce’s time was taken up with his female relatives. His sister, Sally Clarke, was widowed in 1797 and his mother died in the following year. In 1798, following William Pitt’s duel Wilberforce put down a parliamentary motion (later withdrawn) against duelling. In July 1798 his son, William Wilberforce junior was born, attended by a male accoucheur in accordance with childbirth practices in affluent families. In keeping with the predominant ideologies of motherhood and domesticity he greatly approved of his wife’s decision to breastfeed the child.

Keywords: William Wilberforce; Practical View; Barbara Spooner; Hannah More; Broomfield; William Pitt; duelling; William Wilberforce junior; childbirth; accoucheurs; breastfeeding

Chapter.  7517 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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