Wilberforce, Samuel [key], 1805–73, English prelate; son of William Wilberforce. In 1845 he became bishop of Oxford. He did not support the Oxford movement; instead, he attempted to hold a middle course between the High Church and Low Church factions. As a signer of the remonstrance against the appointment of R. D. Hampden to the bishopric of Hereford and as a participant in other controversies, he was at times an unpopular figure, sometimes referred to by his detractors as “Soapy Sam.” A man of oratorical powers and of marked administrative ability, Bishop Wilberforce greatly improved the organization of his diocese and was instrumental in restoring to the English church convocations some of their earlier ecclesiastical authority. In 1869 he was made bishop of Winchester. With his brother Robert he wrote a biography (1838) of his father; his work includes History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America (1844).
See biographies by A. R. Ashwell and R. G. Wilberforce (3 vol., 1879) and S. Meacham (1970).
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