Select Wright Surname Genealogy

Wright comes from the Old English wryhta, meaning a craftsman, and usually described a maker or user of machinery.

The name in England could have a Norman heritage, from John Wryta of Bayeux whose family was expert in the manufacture of wooden and metallic articles and in weapons of war and whose sons may have accompanied William the Conqueror to England in 1066.

Wright existed as an occupational name in its own right, or in compounds such as Cartwright and Wainwright.  Wright was a more generic name in the north of England, taking over trades such as carpenters which appeared as their own surname in the south.  Thus Thomas Wright who worked on the roof of Berwick castle in 1324 was by trade a carpenter

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England.  Some of the early Wrights were from Essex in the southeast of England.  They included:
  • a Le Wright family which was recorded in Hornchurch Priory documents in the late 14th century.  Sir Henry Wright of this family built Dagnam Park nearby in the 1660's.
  • the Rev. Henry Wright who lived in South Weald in the 1450's.  From his line came John Wright who purchased Kelvedon Hall near Brentwood in 1538.  His descendants were to live there for nearly four hundred years.  They stayed Catholic well into the 18th century.
  • while Nathan Wright, a merchant in London, acquired in 1648 another Catholic house in Essex, Cranham Hall at Bishop's Ockendon.
Meanwhile the Norfolk Wrights, said to have been a prosperous family of flock masters (sheep farmers), acquired Kilverstone Hall near Thetford in 1588 and built for themselves a fine new manor house there. Robert Wright married Joan Finse at Wheathampstead in Hertfordshire in 1562.  Wrights have continued to live in Wheathampstead since that time.

John Wright was a steward to Henry VIII in Kent and bought Plowland Hall in north Yorkshire in the 1530's. His family was Catholic and remained so.  Two of its later members, John and Kit Wright, were involved in the 1605 Gunpowder Plot.  A branch of the family moved to Bolton-le-Swale near Darlington.  There were later some other Wright estates in Yorkshire and the northeast.

Later distribution showed the Wright name strongest on the east coast of England, in a line running south from Durham through Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, and East Anglia to Essex and London.  This eastward bias comes out in the 1891 census.

The Wright name moved north across the border and Wrights were recorded as far north as Aberdeen.  Those from the Highland clan named McIntyre (meaning "son of the wright") sometimes anglicized their name to Wright to hide their Highland origins.

Other than Aberdeen, however, Wright has been very much a Border and Lowland name.  The name appeared as early as 1296 when
Ralph Wright of Stirling and Thomas Wright of Blakenhall in Lanarkshire rendered homage to Edward I of England in the Ragmanís Roll.  It later was evident in Berwickshire.

.  Some Scots Wrights migrated to Ireland in the 17th century, settling primarily in Ulster.  Captain John Wright from Yorkshire was with Cromwell's army in 1649 and was granted lands in county Monaghan.

John Wright, a Puritan, came to New England from Kent with the Winthrop expedition of 1630 and settled in Woburn, Massachusetts.  A number of the other early Wright arrivals were from the Wrights of Kelvedon Hatch in Essex:
  • Thomas Wright came sometime in the 1630ís and settled in Wethersfield, Connecticut by 1639.  Grandson Samuel, a sea captain, later moved his family to Lenox, Massachusetts.  His line was covered in Gertrude Wright Ketchamís 1913 book History of the Wright Family.
  • Samuel Wright was there by 1636 and he settled in Springfield, Massachusetts.  A descendant, Dan Wright, fought in the Revolutionary War and moved to Vermont and later to Ohio.  It was from this line, via the Rev. Milton Wright of the United Brethren Church, that the aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright came.
  • while others of the line were also believed to have arrived by 1640.  
Some early Wrights were from the Kilverstone line in Norfolk.  Three Wright brothers - Anthony, Peter, and Nicholas - came in the 1630's and first made their home at Sandwich on Cape Cod:
  • it was said that Peter united the Kilversone and Kelvedon lines by marrying Alice Wright in 1637.  Their grandson Peter moved to Covington, Virginia in the 1740's where he became renowned as a famous hunter and backwoodsman (he is commemorated by Peter's Mountain there).
  • meanwhile Peter and his brothers had become Quakers and settled on Oyster Bay in Long Island in the 1650's.  Anthony died childless.  Nicholas and his wife Ann raised nine children there. 
There were other Wright Quakers, none more notable than James Wright, a Quaker minister first recorded in Chester county, Pennsylvania in the early 1700ís.  He moved with his family to the Quaker Hopewell community in the Shenandoah valley of Virginia in the 1730ís. 

His son John Wright headed to another Quaker community in Bush river, South Carolinain the 1760ís.  There were later family migrations to Tennessee, Ohio, and Indiana.  One line settled at Russiaville in Howard county, Indiana where there was a Wright family reunion in 1908

Captain Nathaniel Wright immigrated to Maryland from England in 1673 and settled in Queen Anne county.  His descendant Robert Wright, who grew up on the Blakeford estate there, was Maryland Senator in 1801 and three times Governor of Maryland.  At Blakeford he was a breeder of racehorses and fine cattle.

In the winter of 1800 Philemon Wright, a descendant of John Wright of Woburn, led a party across frozen fields and rivers from Massachusetts to the Ottawa valley in Canada.  They were the first permanent settlers in that region.

Select Wright Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Wright Names

Edward Wright was a noted English mathematician and cartographer of the 16th century.
John Wright was the London bookseller who published Shakespeare's First Folio in 1623.
Orville and Wilbur Wright, two brothers, were the first to fly in 1903.
Frank Lloyd Wright was the renowned American architect.
Richard Wright was the African American writer of controversial novels dealing with racial themes.
Billy Wright was the English football captain in the 1950's.

Select Wrights Today

  • 171,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 163,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 96,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Select Surname List

Adams Ellis Johnson O'Connor
Allen Evans Jones O'Sullivan Shaw
Anderson Fisher
Kelly Parker Simpson
Bailey Foster Kennedy Perry Smith
Baker Fox King Peterson Stevens
Barnes Fraser 
Lee Phillips Stewart
Bell Graham Lewis Powell Taylor
Bennett Gray Marshall Price Thomas
Brown Green Martin Reed
Griffiths Mason      
Reynolds Turner
Campbell Hall McDonald Richards
Carter Hamilton Miller  Richardson Walsh
Chapman Harris Mitchell Roberts Ward
Clark Harrison
Moore Robertson Watson
Collins Henderson Morgan Robinson White
Cook Hill Morris Rogers Williams
Cooper Howard Murphy Ross Wilson
Cox Hughes Murray Russell Wood
Davis Jackson Nelson Ryan Wright
Edwards James O'Brien 

For other surnames check the surnames2 page where there are to be found the history and genealogy for more than 800 surnames.

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