The Wilberforce family originally came from Wilberfoss near York, which was on the outskirts of the ancient forest of Galtres. The forest was occupied by herds of wild boar, from which the village got its name Wild Boar Foss, which later became Wilberfoss and the family name went from Wilberfoss to Wilberforce.

The family tree dates back to Ilger, son of Osbert of Eggleston who at the Battle of Alnwick in 1174 fought under the banner of Willian de Kyme (Lord Wilberfoss).

Ilger of Eggleston was of Saxon descent, and there is a family tradition that his great-grandfather was the man responsible for Harold Hardrada’s overthrow at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066. Eggleston unobserved launched a salting –tub and sailing beneath the bridge thrust his spear upwards to kill the giant Norseman.

Ilger married Margert de Kyme and the manor of Wilberfoss was part of his wife’s dowry. Ilger changed his name to Wilberfoss.

From 1175-1710 Wilberfoss was the family seat.