William Wilberforce, who died at 44 Cadogan Place
If, on your visit to Sloane Street, you find yourself on Cadogan Place, shopping at Hervé Léger, Emilia Wickstead or Walter Steiger, you might like to know that, before it was a shopping destination, Cadogan Place was home to a couple of very noteworthy names.
William Wilberforce, the English politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade, passed away at number 44 Cadogan Place on July 29 1833, in a house just south of Pont Street, overlooking the quintessentially English Cadogan Place Gardens.
Wilberforce was born in Yorkshire, in the North of England, in 1759 and began his political career when he was 21 in 1780. Five years later, he became an evangelical Christian, which resulted in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for reform. Two years later, he met a group of anti-slave-trade activists, including Granville Sharp, Hannah More and Charles Middleton, who persuaded him to take on the cause of abolition, and he soon became one of the leading English abolitionists. He headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for twenty-six years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.
Just down the road, at number 30, lived actress Dorothea Bland, who went by the stage name of Mrs Jordan, even though she was never married. The ‘Mrs’ was a ploy to make her seem more respectable on stage because, you see, she was the mistress of William, Duke of Clarence, who became King William IV in 1830, when he was 64. William had no surviving legitimate children but he was survived by eight of the ten illegitimate children he had with Dorothea. Scandalous, no? Those children took the surname FitzClarence, and William was succeeded to the throne by his niece, Queen Victoria.