John Wright of Woburn

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John Wright

Birthdate:
Birthplace: West Peckham, Kent, England
Death: June 21, 1688
Woburn, Middlesex , Massachusetts
Place of Burial: Woburn, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert Wright, Esq. and Ursula Wright
Husband of Priscilla Wright
Father of John Wright; Deacon Joseph Wright, of Woburn; Ruth Knight; Deborah Flagg and Sarah Sawyer
Brother of Martha Percy; Alice Readshaw; John "Jack" Wright; Ursula Ward and Christopher "Kit" Wright
Half brother of William Wright, of Plowland and Ann Wright

Occupation: Deacon
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John Wright of Woburn

'John was probably born at Plowland Hall, in Holderness (parish of Welwicke).

The son of Robert Wright of Plowland, Holderness, and his second wife Ursula Rudstone, daughter of Nicholas Rudstone of Hayton (near Pocklington) [1], John (Jack) Wright was probably born at Plowland Hall in Holderness [in the parish of Welwick]. Along with his younger brother Christopher, he was said to have been a school fellow of both Oswald Tesimond and Guy Fawkes at the free school of St. Peters in York, known as "Le Horse Fayre" [1][2][5][6][7].

Robert and Ursula were staunch Catholics who suffered imprisonment in Hull Prison in York for a period of "fourteen years together" during the time which Henry Hastings, the Puritan Earl of Huntingdon, was Lord President of the North [2][8]. They had three daughters also, including Martha, who married Thomas Percy the conspirator, and Ursula, who married firstly John Constable of Hatfield, and secondly Marmaduke Ward of Mulwith, the suspected brother of Thomas Ward, servant to William Parker, Lord Monteagle. By his first marriage to Anne Grimston, Robert Wright also had a son William, and two daughters, Martha and Anne [3][12]. from "Historic homes and places and genealogical and personal memoirs ...", Volume 1 pp 112-113

Very little is known of the early life of the two Wright brothers and a great deal of what is written is often attributed to either or both of them, so accuracy and specifics in detail between the two brothers are often blurred, but later, Father John Gerard described John as a "strong, stout man, and of very good wit, though slow of speech" [4]. Renowned from his youth for his courage, "he was somewhat taciturn in manner, but very loyal to his friends, even if his friends were few" [7].

By all accounts he was an excellent swordsman, considered by some to be the best swordsman of his day. He was purported to be much disposed to fighting [7] until he was reconciled to the Catholic faith, which according to Gerard occurred during, or just prior to, the time of the Essex Rebellion. Prior to the Essex Rebellion however, John, his brother Christopher, and a number of others, including Robert Catesby and Francis Tresham, were arrested as a precautionary measure during an illness of Queen Elizabeth I. This was later dubbed the "Poisoned Pommel" incident [2], although no evidence of a plot or conspiracy was ever truly uncovered that implicated either these four or any others.

Both John and his wife Dorothy then seemed to endure a great deal of harassment and persecution by the authorities, and they appear more than once on the recusancy rolls, for their profession of the Catholic faith [7][10]. John, along with his friend Robert Catesby, had formed part of the entourage for Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex. After the abortive Essex Rebellion of 1601, John spent an amount of time imprisoned in solitary confinement [1]. After his release, he moved his family from the ancestral home of Plowland Hall to Twigmore Hall in northern Lincolnshire, which, even before the Essex Rebellion was noted as a "resort of priests for his [John's] spiritual and their corporal comfort" [4][5], which seems to imply his religious position was established even before Father John Gerard's claim. (Spink also makes the claim that it would be difficult for the son of such devout religionists who suffered persecution for their faith to be brought up with anything other than a Catholic background [2].) A government report put it in less flattering terms: "This place is one of the worst in her Majesty's dominions and is used like a Popish college for traitors in the northern parts" [4]. The house, at the time was owned by the Tyrwhitt family who were considered one of the more notable Catholic families of the area, and claimed as cousins to the Wright's, perhaps through John's marriage to one of them.

Esteemed by Catesby for his valour and secrecy [7], John was the third to be initiated into the Gunpowder Plot, some time in May 1604. Along with Thomas Wintour, he was given the task of officially telling Guy Fawkes of the conspirators' intentions to blow up the Houses of Parliament [5], at which time he removed his family from Twigmore Hall to a house belonging to Catesby at Lapworth in Warwickshire [1][5]. John's official position in the conspiracy is somewhat unclear, although by all accounts he was an active participant in all its events.

On 4 November, the eve of the plot's discovery, John fled London with Catesby to take the news to Sir Everard Digby and the hunting party which had gathered at Dunchurch in Warwickshire. Meeting several of their confederates on the way to the Midlands, their party eventually numbered almost 60 strong [11]. After receiving Mass at Huddington Court on November 6th, they finally reached Holbeche House, the home of Stephen Littleton, in the late evening of 7 November. The conspirators by now were weary, and according to their confessions, had all but given up hope that their plans would succeed.

On the morning of 8 November, the house was surrounded and laid siege to by the Sheriff of Worcester's men. In a brief stand, Christopher Wright was killed outright along with Catesby and Percy. However, according to Tesimond, who was later told by the Wintours' priest Father Hart (alias Hammond) who had administered the Mass two days previous, John was also mortally wounded, but "lingered for a day, if not longer" [2].

After the capture and imprisonment of the conspirators, the bodies of those who had died at Holbeche were exhumed, and the heads removed for display at Westminster Palace.

Sources [1] Dictionary of National Biography, 1895 [2] Spink, Henry Hawkes, "The Gunpowder Plot and Lord Mounteagle's Letter", 1902 [3] "A History of Yorkshire : East Riding Vol. I-VI" (Oxford University Press) [4] Gerard, John, "The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest, tr. Philip Caraman" [5] Fraser, Antonia, "Faith & Treason - The Story of the Gunpowder Plot", 1996 [6] Durst, Paul, "Intended Treason; What really happened in the Gunpowder Plot", 1970 [7] Edwards, Francis, S.J., "The Gunpowder Plot: The narrative of Oswald Tesimond alias Greenway, trans. from the Italian of the Stonyhurst Manuscript, edited and annotated", 1973 [8] Cross, Claire, "The Puritan Earl: Henry Hastings 3rd Earl of Huntingdon 1536-1595" [9] Toyne, S.M., "Guy Fawkes and the Powder Plot', History Today, I, 1951 [10] "Recusants in the Exchequer Pipe Rolls 1581-1592", Catholic Record Society [11] Simons, Eric N., "The Devil of the Vault", 1963 [12] Poulson, George, "The History and Antiquities of the seignatory of Holderness Vol. II"

By William Richard Cutter

...was born in England in 160i. He was one of the earliest settlers in Woburn, Massachusetts, being in Charlestown as early as 1640 and subscribing to the Town Orders of Woburn, which were agreed upon December 18, 1640. He was a selectman of Woburn in 1645-46-47, 1649 to 1658, 1060 to 1664, 1670-80-81, He was deputy to the general court, was commissioner of the rate in 104671 ; commissioner of the general court 1668 for dividing the common lands into proprieties. He was chosen deacon of the church, November 10, 1664, and served until his death, June 21, 1688.

His wife Priscilla, whom he married in England, died April 10, 1687.

Children:

  • 1. John, born 1630, mentioned below.
  • 2. Joseph, born 1631-2, married Elizabeth Hassall; (second) Ruth Cutler; had twelve children.
  • 3. Ruth, born April 23, 1646, married, March 31, 1663, Jonathan Knight ; she died April 13, 1714.
  • 4. Deborah, born January 21, 1648-49.
  • 5. Sarah, posthumous, born February 16, 1652-53, married Joshua Sawyer.

One source shows October 7, 1601 in Woburn, MA. as an adoption date, another marks it as a christening/baptism. John Wright's christening is recorded in England.

Sources

The Family of John and Priscilla Wright


"Historic homes and places and genealogical and personal memoirs ...", Volume 1 pp 112-113

By William Richard Cutter

...was born in England in 1601. He was one of the earliest settlers in Woburn, Massachusetts, being in Charlestown as early as 1640 and subscribing to the Town Orders of Woburn, which were agreed upon December 18, 1640. He was a selectman of Woburn in 1645-46-47, 1649 to 1658, 1060 to 1664, 1670-80-81, He was deputy to the general court, was commissioner of the rate in 104671 ; commissioner of the general court 1668 for dividing the common lands into proprieties. He was chosen deacon of the church, November 10, 1664, and served until his death, June 21, 1688.

His wife Priscilla, whom he married in England, who died April 10, 1687.

Children:

1. John, born 1630, mentioned below. 2. Joseph, born 1631-2, married Elizabeth Hassall; (second) Ruth Cutler; had twelve children. 3. Ruth, born April 23, 1646, married, March 31, 1663, Jonathan Knight ; she died April 13, 1714. 4. Deborah, born January 21, 1648-49. 5. Sarah, posthumous, born February 16, 1652-53, married Joshua Sawyer.


Along with eleven others John Wright and Christopher Wright were part of the plot to assassinate King James I of England and VI of Scotland by blowing up the House of Lords during the State Opening of England's Parliament on 5 November 1605. This act was to be the prelude to a popular revolt in the Midlands during which James's nine-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, was to be installed as the Catholic head of state.

"Mr John Wright was a gentleman of Yorkshire, not born to any great fortune, but lived always in place and company of the better sort. In his youth and for the most of his time very wild and disposed to fighting and trial of his manhood, as I touched before. He became Catholic about the time of my Lord of Essex his attempt, in which he was ; and after that time kept much with Mr. Catesby and some other gentlemen of his friends and acquaintance. He grew to be staid and of good sober carriage after he was Catholic, and kept house in Lincolnshire, where he had Priests come often, both for his spiritual comfort and their own in corporal helps. He was about forty years old, a strong and a stout man, and of a very good wit, though slow of speech ; much loved by Mr. Catesby for his valour and secrecy in carriage of any business, which, I suppose, was the cause why he was one of the first acquainted with this unfortunate enterprise."

Sources:

Steve Wright

https://stevewright.nz/john_wright_plowland.php

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John Wright of Woburn's Timeline

1601
September 15, 1601
West Peckham, Kent, England
September 15, 1601
West Peckham, Kent, England
October 7, 1601
October 7, 1601
West Peckham, Kent, England (?)
1602
August 13, 1602
St. Peter's, South Weald, Essex, Eng
August 13, 1602
St. Peter's, South Weald, Essex, Eng
1631
1631
Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts
1641
March 14, 1641
Woburn, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
1646
April 23, 1646
Woburn, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony
1650
March 21, 1650
Woburn, Middlesex, Massachusetts