Roger Wilbraham (MP)

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Roger Wilbraham
Detail from Tribuna of the Uffizi (1772–1778) by Johann Zoffany, showing Wilbraham (probably on the left) among a group admiring the statue of the Venus de' Medici
Born30 December 1743
Died3 January 1829
EducationTrinity College, Cambridge
Political partyWhig
Venus with a Satyr and Cupids by Annibale CarracciRaphael, Madonna della Sedia (Madonna of the Chair), c.1514Guido Reni, Charity, 1607Raphael, St John the BaptistReni, MadonnaMadonna della seggiolaCorreggio, Madonna and ChildJustus Sustermans, GalileoRaphael, Madonna of the GoldfinchFranciabigio - Madonna of the WellGuido Reni, Cleopatra, 1635–40Holy Family, then attributed to PeruginoRubens, Justus Lipsius with his Pupils, c.1615Portrait of Leo X with two Cardinals by RaphaelTribute Money? by Carravagio?Rubens, Justus Lipsius with his Pupils, c.1615Raphael, Pope Leo X with Cardinals Giulio de’ Medici and Luigi de’ Rossi, 1518Niccolini-Cowper Madonna by RaphaelLarge central paintingHolbein, Sir Richard Southwell, 1536Cristofano Allori, Miracle of St JulianHoly Family, attributed to Niccolò Soggiummm Raphael, Niccolini-Cowper Madonna, 1508, then in Lord Cowper’s possession, having bought it from Zoffany, now National Gallery of Art, Washington, DCTitian, Venus of Urbino, 1538Cupid and Psyche, Roman copy of a Greek original of the 1st or 2nd century BCThe ‘Arrotino’ (Knife-Grinder), a Pergamene original of 2nd or 3rd century BCDancing Faun, marble replica of a bronze of the circle of Praxiteles, 4th century BCThe Infant Hercules Strangling the SerpentsThe Wrestlers, marble copy of a bronze Permamene original, 2nd or 3rd century BCSouth Indian craterEtruscan helmetChimera - Etruscan art8 Oil lampsEgyptian ptahmose, 18th dynastyGreek bronze torsoBust of Julius CaeserRoman silver shieldHead of AntinousSouth Italian craterEtruscan jugOctagonal table with pietra dura top made for the Tribuna, designed by Jacopo Ligozzi and Bernardino Poccetti.Charles Loraine Smith (1751–1835)Richard Edgcumbe, later 2nd Earl of Mount Edgcumbe (1764–1839)George, 3rd Earl Cowper (1738–89)Sir John Dick (1720–1804), British Consul at LeghornOther Windsor, 6th Earl of Plymouth (1751–99)Johann ZoffanyMr Stevenson, companion to the Lord LewishamGeorge Legge, Lord Lewisham, later 3rd Earl of Dartmouth (1755–1810)unknown young manValentine Knightley of Fawsley (1744–96)Pietro Bastianelli, the custodian of the galleryMr GordonHon. Felton Hervey (1712–73)Thomas Patch (1725-82), PainterSir John Taylor Bt., (d. 1786)Sir Horace Mann (1706–86), British Consul in FlorenceGeorge Finch, 9th Earl of Winchilseaprob. Roger Wilbraham (1743-1829)Mr WattsMr Doughty, travelling with Charles Loraine SmithProbably Thomas Wilbraham (b. 1751), brother of RogerThe Medici Venus, Roman copy of a Greek original of the 2nd century BCJames Bruce (1730–94), African explorerUse a cursor to explore or press button for larger image & copyright
The Tribuna of the Uffizi by Johann Zoffany. Place cursor over artworks or persons to identify them.

Roger Wilbraham FRS (1743 – January 1829) was a British Member of Parliament (MP), bibliophile, antiquary, local historian and a patron of science and the arts. He had an extensive library and he published work on the Cheshire dialect.


Wilbraham was born on 30 December 1743 at Townsend House in Welsh Row in Nantwich.[1] Wilbraham had an elder brother George and another brother named Thomas. His father and his mother, Mary, sent their son to Trinity College, Cambridge.[2] Wilbraham gained a BA, joined the Inner Temple, gained an MA and became a fellow of the college by 1767.[3]

Wilbraham spent a number of years abroad in France, Spain and Italy.[1] He is believed to be one of the British tourists in Florence who were included in Johann Zoffany's painting of the Tribuna of the Uffizi,[4] a royal commission painted in the 1770s. Roger's younger brother, Thomas, is also thought to be in the painting.[4] The Royal Collection, who still own the painting, identify the Wilbraham brothers as probably being in the group on the right who are admiring the statue of the Venus de' Medici.[4]

Wilbraham was elected fellow of the Royal Society on 28 February 1782.[5] In 1784 he stood unsuccessfully to be the Member of Parliament for Truro in Cornwall representing the interests of Sir Francis Bassett. He and Sir Christopher Hawkins, 1st Baronet received an identical number of votes at an election in the Mitchell constituency but Hawkins was awarded the seat.[6] The Mitchell constituency was a rotten borough and Hawkins was involved in this disreputable business of selling seats in parliament. Two years later Wilbraham was elected for the nearby constituency of Helston, representing his mother's family's interests. From 1790 to 1796 he succeeded his brother George Wilbraham as the Member of Parliament for Bodmin.[3] He made eight speeches in parliament and helped to manage the mistaken impeachment of Warren Hastings following his recall from India.[6] Wilbraham also spoke in defence of Edmund Burke and he was also a strong supporter of Charles James Fox.[3]

The head of his mother's family, George Hunt, withdrew his support for Wilbraham's place in parliament and, in an unreformed parliament, Wilbraham failed to be re-elected. His uncle's support had always been lacklustre and Wilbraham was left with his interests in shooting, book collecting and horticulture, although he maintained an interest in politics via correspondence.[3] He had become a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1802 and in 1819 he joined their council. In 1817 he wrote a paper of the dialect of Cheshire which was published by the Society of Antiquaries.[1][7]

Roger Wilbraham FSA MP FRS an engraving from 1828

Wilbraham was known as a healthy large man of over 20 stone in weight. When out shooting he was known for wearing a red velvet jacket and a white hat. He made good company and he would host parties where guests could admire his knowledge and his library of leather-bound books. Unusually, he fell out with the Italian poet Ugo Foscolo at his own house. Despite Foscolo's further provocation, Wilbraham refused to use harsh words to his own guest, but did promise to speak more freely the following day.[8]


Wilbraham was known as an antiquary and for his fine collection of books which included novels, plays, poetry and texts in both Spanish and Italian.[9] After he died in 1829 there was a six-day sale[9] by R. H. Evans (10 June & five following days) of his Belles-lettres.[3] A copy of the sale catalogue is held at Cambridge University Library (shelfmark Munby.c.136(1)). The British National Archives reports that he still has correspondence stored in the Bodleian Library and by Bedford Library archives.[10]


  1. ^ a b c Journal of the Architectural, Archæological, and Historic Society ..., Volume 2. Architectural, Archaeological, and Historic Society for the County and the City of Chester and North Wales. 1843. p. 102. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  2. ^ Roger Wilbraham,, retrieved 18 October 2014
  3. ^ a b c d e Roger Wilbraham,, retrieved 18 October 2014
  4. ^ a b c Zoffany,, retrieved 18 October 2014
  5. ^ "Fellows Details". Royal Society. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  6. ^ a b Roger Wilbraham, History of Parliament, retrieved 18 October 2014
  7. ^ Wilbraham, R. An Attempt at a Glossary of Some Words Used in Cheshire, 2nd ed. (London: T. Rodd, 1826)
  8. ^ Vincent, E.R. (1953). Ugo Foscolo: An Italian in Regency England. p. 10. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  9. ^ a b Obituary, The Gentleman's Magazine, 1829
  10. ^ Roger Wilbraham, National Archives, retrieved 18 October 2014

External links[edit]

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Helston
With: Sir James Burges, 1st Baronet
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Bodmin
With: Sir John Morshead, 1st Baronet
Succeeded by