|The Right Honourable
The Lord Wilberforce
CMG, OBE, PC
|Lord of Appeal in Ordinary|
|Born||11 March 1907|
|Died||15 February 2003 (aged 95)|
|Alma mater||New College, Oxford|
Richard Wilberforce was a great-great-grandson of the famous abolitionist William Wilberforce, and son of Samuel, a judge of the Lahore High Court.[a] His mother Katherine was the daughter of John Sheepshanks, Bishop of Norwich. He was born in Jullundur, India and attended Norwich School, Sandroyd School, Winchester College and New College, Oxford, and was later elected a Prize Fellow of All Souls College. He also won the Eldon Scholarship at Oxford. He was called to the Bar in 1932 and became a Queen's Counsel in 1954.
During World War II, Wilberforce served in the British Army, fighting in the Norwegian Campaign before being posted to the War Office. In 1944 he was attached to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. He ended the War with the honorary rank of Brigadier. For his wartime service, Wilberforce was appointed an OBE and received the American Bronze Star.
After the War, Wilberforce returned to the bar. He appeared in a number of high-profile International Court of Justice cases, such as the Corfu Channel case and the Norwegian Fisheries case. He was appointed a CMG in 1956.
Wilberforce was appointed to the High Court and assigned to the Chancery Division in 1961, receiving the customary knighthood. He was elevated to the House of Lords as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in 1964, and was made a life peer as Baron Wilberforce, of the City and County of Kingston-upon-Hull. He is the only England and Wales judge in recent times to have been appointed to the House of Lords straight from the High Court Bench, without serving in the Court of Appeal.
His decisions were known for being reserved and cautious. He served as a Law Lord for 18 years, and heard 465 appeals.
Wilberforce gave many important and prescient judgments, including in the following cases: