WILBRAHAM, Roger (1743-1829), of Stratton Street, Piccadilly, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. 1743, 2nd s. of Roger Wilbraham of Nantwich, Cheshire by 2nd w. Mary, da. of Thomas Hunt† of Mollington, Cheshire. educ. Chester; Trinity Coll. Camb. 15 Nov. 1760, aged 16, BA 1765, MA 1768, fellow 1767; I. Temple 1763. unm.
In 1790 Wilbraham’s elder brother George stood down at Bodmin in his favour, so he transferred there from Helston. He was the last representative of the Hunt interest (his mother’s family) in the borough: the head of the family, his uncle George Hunt† of Lanhydrock, had not wished him to come forward, being prepared to abandon his interest.1 He continued to vote steadily with the Foxite Whig opposition, and was counted favourable to repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in 1791; but he did not vote for parliamentary reform, 7 May 1793. He was one of the managers of the impeachment of Warren Hastings, but only occasionally figured in debate. On 14 Dec. 1790 he explained the petition against his return. On 8 Mar. 1793 he was in favour of excusing Edmund Burke for absence without leave and his motion was carried. On 29 Apr. 1793 he opposed, unsuccessfully, Windham’s motion in favour of Mudge’s timepiece, as being a subject fit for investigation by the board of longitude. He suggested on 9 Mar. 1795 that Sunday should be a postday in London as it was elsewhere.
Wilbraham’s prospects of re-election at Bodmin were dashed by his uncle’s indifference to his interest there, which fell into the hands of Sir John Morshead*. On 9 Dec. 1794 he appealed to the Duke of Portland to prevent this from operating to his exclusion from the next Parliament, but the duke declined to interfere, without reference to their political divergence. In November 1795 Portland was informed by Mrs Crewe (who had it from Lady Warburton) that ‘R. Wilbraham would be quiet and not poison us all if he could get his object, an envoyship, but I don’t care what he gets he shall not convert me’.2 He never returned to Parliament, though until 1812 at least he remained interested in Whig politics, keeping his friend Thomas William Coke I* informed.
Writing to Lord Holland, 2 Mar. 1819, he assured him that he would not support John Cam Hobhouse† in the Westminster by-election, after the aspersions that the latter had cast upon Fox: ‘I could as soon have attempted to bear the sad remains of your revered uncle from the grave; from that grave, which I was almost ready to sink in myself, when they were laid there’. He added ‘My political energy towards individuals, with the single exception of yourself is greatly upon the wane ... and the moral and social duties of life have in great measure taken the place of politics’.3
Wilbraham, who remained on convivial terms with his Whig friends at the Club, was ‘well known as a patron of literature and science’ and an ‘active member of the Horticultural Society’. He was a student of Cheshire dialect words. During his travels abroad, he assembled a fine collection of Italian and Spanish belles lettres, which was sold after his death in his 86th year in January 1829.4