William Wilberforce and ‘the Saints’
in Making and remaking saints in nineteenth-century Britain
Abstract only
Log-in for full text

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

manchesterhive requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals - to see content that you/your institution should have access to, please log in through your library system or with your personal username and password.

If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/extracts and download selected front and end matter. 

Institutions can purchase access to individual titles; please contact manchesterhive@manchester.ac.uk for pricing options.


If you have an access token for this content, you can redeem this via the link below:

Redeem token

Historians have frequently noted the twin propensities of late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century evangelicals for writing hagiographical and historical narratives. This chapter argues that the interaction of these traditions led to the emergence of a new, distinctively evangelical form of hagiography: that of the ‘practical’ or ‘useful’ saint. This chapter moves beyond the well-worn territory of filial piety to consider how the Clapham ‘saints’ came to be regarded as such. Exploring parallel shifts in the evangelical historiographical tradition and in published funeral sermons, it outlines a set of changing ideals, from the ‘pious philanthropy’ of the 1780s through the middle ground of ‘moral celebrity’ to posthumous ‘practical sainthood’ by the 1830s and 40s. New definitions of sanctity gave rise to new narratives of mediation. The ‘practical saint’ represented the Gospel’s immanent improving power as an historical force, differentiated from the eighteenth-century emphasis on unchanging doctrine. He or she mediated between Providence and the nation, between the domestic and the global, and between industrialising mass society and the individual worker in piety. As Sir James Stephen wrote, concluding his ‘ecclesiastical biography’ of William Wilberforce, recording such a life was an exercise in ‘mémoires pour servir, in the composition of an historical picture – an intertwining of hagiography and historiography.

Editor: Gareth Atkins


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 30 10 1
Full Text Views 15 6 0
PDF Downloads 19 8 0