Grave of Robert Wilberforce

Robert Wilberforce's grave

Robert Wilberforce’s grave

One aspect of William Wilberforce’s life that has always intrigued scholars is his failure to pass on his evangelical beliefs to his surviving children. Samuel, the third son, became a High Churchman, bishop first of Oxford and then of Winchester. The other three sons, William, Robert Isaac, and Henry all became Roman Catholics.

Robert, possibly the most intellectually gifted of the sons, became a Catholic in 1854 and though he was twice widowed, he was allowed to take minor orders. He died at Albano  in February 1857 and was buried in the chapel of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome.

The grave location, looking west along the south aisle.

The grave location, looking west along the south aisle.

I have not seen his grave myself, but the historian, writer, and teacher, Guy de la Bedoyère, has kindly sent me a couple of photographs he has just taken.

For more on the Wilberforce sons, see David Newsome’s marvellous book, The Parting of Friends: A Study of the Wilberforces and Henry Manning (London: John Murray, 1966).

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