Select Wright Miscellany

Here are some Wright stories and accounts over the years:

The Wrights and the Gunpowder Plot

Sometime in the 1530ís John Wright of Kent, a steward to Henry VIII, moved to Holderness in the North Riding of Yorkshire and started to acquire land there.  He and his wife Alice made their home at Plowland Hall.  It is significant that John Wright was Catholic.  His will of 1540 made mention of a number of well-known recusant families in the Yorkshire area.

Robert, his son and heir, eventually became Sheriff of Yorkshire and was granted a coat of arms.  He reached this position despite being Catholic.  His second wife Ursula was in fact was incarcerated for a total of fourteen years, chiefly in Hull prison and with a number of other recusant wives.

The Catholic faith extended to the next generation.  John Wright was described as one of the finest swordsmen of his day, but was hot-headed.  He had formed part of the entourage of the Earl of Essex along with his friend Robert Catesby and, after the aborted uprising in 1601, had spent time in solitary confinement for his crime.  He was one of Robert Catesby's first recruits for the Gunpowder Plot.  His younger brother Kit was later brought into the plotting.

After the failure, the conspirators escaped north from London, eventually holing up in a house in Staffordshire.  There, after a series of skirmishes, Catesby and the Wright brothers lay dead.  The Wright line in north Yorkshire continued through their half-brother William.

Wright Estates in the Northeast

John Wright
Plowland Hall
Holderness, Yorkshire
Rev. Francis Wright
near Richmond, Yorkshire
Richard Wright
Sedgefield, Northumberland
Sir William Wright
Sigglesthorne Hall
near Hull, Yorkshire
Samuel Wright
Brattleby Hall
Brattleby, Lincolnshire

James Wright, Drunk in Wheathampstead

One day in 1838 James Wright, extremely inebriated, sat in his cottage armed with a pig knife and threatened to do dreadful things.  His daughter, fearing the worst, ran out onto the common and sought the assistance of a clergyman who was passing by in his carriage.  The Reverend, who was the curate of Wheathampstead, went to assist and was injured by the knife.

Up before the Hertfordshire magistrate, James Wright was sentenced to 15 years transportation.  He did spent some time in Hertford jail.  But sanity prevailed.  Following a recommendation from the prison surgeon, he was pardoned - because of his age (he was 72 years old!) and because of his poor health

Wrights in the 1891 Census

Wrights (000's)
East Anglia

James Wright the Quaker

The Wright name was well-known along frontier settlements in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia in the early 1700ís.  Perhaps the best-known and most recounted of these Wrights at that time was the Quaker minister James Wright. 

He was said to have come to Pennsylvania with Pennís fleet in 1682, although that may have been too early a date.  The Quaker community at East Nottingham in Chester county was not formed until 1702 and James Wright was first recorded there in 1716. 

In 1735 James Wright moved with his family to the Opeckon settlement in the Shenandoah valley in Virginia.  This colony was situated along what was known as the Great Wagon Road, the road that wound its way through the Shenandoah valley into the Carolinas.  James Wright was an elder at the Quaker Hopewell monthly meetings there.  He was described as follows:

ďA sober honest man, grave in manners, and solid and weighty in his conversations.  He was diligent in the attendance of religious meetings, exemplary in humble waiting therein, and of a sound mind and judgment.  He was cautious of giving just offence to any one and was earnestly concerned for the unity of the brethren and the peace of the church.Ē 

He seemed to show more concern about matters of the church than about his own affairs and landholding (which remained relatively modest).

He was an old man by the time the French and Indian War broke out in the 1750ís.  Wave after wave of well-armed Indian warriors came into the Shenandoah valley, massacring men, women and children in their way.  In 1759 the Quaker colony where the Wrights lived was attacked.  Some reports had James and his wife Mary fleeing their home for sanctuary elsewhere; others had them being killed and scalped during the attack.  In any event James Wright was dead by the end of the year. 

Soon afterwards, his son John Wright and wife and children, in frustration and in grief, moved to the Quaker colony in Bush river, South Carolina.

Philemon Wright's Trek to Canada

Philemon Wright was a descendant of the Puritan John Wright who had come with Winthropís party in 1630 and settled in Woburn, Massachusetts. 

In the winter of 1800, he set out from Woburn by sleigh with his brother Thomas, Elijah Allen, Amos and Solomon Childs, Daniel Wyman, Henry Kendrick, Harvey Parker, Ebenezer Hadley and Joel Adams, their women and children and enough household goods and tools to take up life in the wilderness.  They had in fact left Woburn in February so that they could take advantage of the frozen rivers where no roads existed. 

Progress was slow as it was necessary that men should go ahead with axes to try the strength of the river ice over which the party would be travelling; the fear being that the loss of animals and a sleigh with all its valuable load of humans and settlers' effects would be disastrous in the extreme. 

The party eventually came to the north side of the Ottawa river.  Wrightstown, now part of the new city of Gatineau, was chosen as a better locale than the south side of the river. The portage route past the Chaudiere Falls was better on the north side as there was more sun and a longer stretch of favorable shoreline. 

Once arrived Philemon Wright established his Utopian agricultural settlement.  His group comprised the first permanent settlers in the Ottawa area.  They received the land grants to what became Hull township in 1802.

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