Robert Wright, Esq.

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Robert Wright, Esq.

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Plowland Manor, Welwick, East Riding of Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Death: July 18, 1594 (87-96)
Plowland Manor, Welwick, East Riding of Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of John Wright, of Plowland in Holderness; John Wright, Esq. and Alice Wright
Husband of Anne Wright; Anne Wright and Ursula Wright
Father of William Wright; William Wright, of Plowland; Ann Wright; Martha Percy; Alice Readshaw and 7 others
Brother of John Wright; Christopher Wright and Elizabeth Wright

Occupation: Sheriff of Yorkshire, Esquire
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Robert Wright, Esq.

Robert eventually became Sheriff of Yorkshire and was granted Arms by patent under the hand and seal of William Flower, Norroy. He married firstly Anne Grimston of Grimston Garth, the daughter of Thomas Grimston and Ursula Podaton, and secondly Ursula Rudston[e] of Hayton about 1567. Ursula was the daughter of Nicholas Rudston[e] and Jane Mallory.

By his first wife Anne, Robert had issue three children;

1. William Wright of Plowland in co. Eborum. (or York) was born in Plowland, England, and died August 23, 1621. He married Ann Thornton, of E. Newton, daughter of Robert Thornton and by her had issue:

Francis Wright of Sowerby in co. Ebor., (a quo Wright, of Bolton-upon-Swale; see Dugdale's Visitation of Yorkshire in 1584/5 and 1612, p 98.) born in Sowerby, County of York, England; married into the Markham family (cousins) of Yorkshire, England.

Robert Wright of Foston, b. 1572; d. 1620; married Ann Girlington of Sandal and had issue:

Mary Wright who married Ralph Crathorne of Ness, and by him had a son Thomas Crathorne

Anne Wright

William Wright, b. abt. 1560; d. 1648; m. Ann Mills

Nicholas Wright, b. abt. 1550; d. 1648.

John Wright

Anne Wright (Marked "o.s.p." on Visitation of Yorkshire in 1584/5 and 1612, pg. 145)

2. Martha Wright

3. Anne Wright

By his second wife, he had issue five children:

1. John Wright of Twigsmore, bapt. Jan. 16, 1568 d. Nov. 8 1605, Holbeche House, Staffordshire, married Dorothy

2. Christopher Wright, b. 1570 d. Nov. 8 1605, Holbeche House, Staffordshire, married Margaret Ward of Mulwith and had issue:

John Wright, b. abt. 1593, married Miss BUSFIELD of Lincolnshire and had issue:

John Wright

3. Martha Wright, married the conspirator Thomas Percy, who was descended from the Percys of Beverley (and kin to the Earl of Northumberland), and had by him:

Robert Percy who married Emma Mead, 22 October 1615 in Wiveliscombe, Somerset

"Daughter" Percy who married Robert Catesby, son of Robert Catesby the conspirator

4. Ursula Wright, married Marmaduke Ward of the Wards of Mulwith, and by him had a daughter

Mary Ward, b. 23 January 1585, d. 23 January 1645, Heworth, York

5. Alice Wright, of Plowland , secretly married William Readshaw of Oulston in 1593 in the home of her sister Ursula Ward.

Robert initially increased the size of the family estates through the purchase of the manor of Weeton from Robert Rudston[e] in 1555-56, however, his eldest son William conveyed property in Weeton, probably including the manor, to Richard Legard in 1579, as it is not included in the list of properties conveyed to William on Robert's death. Robert was buried 18 July, 1594, in Welwick, seised of the manor of Plowland and lands in Weeton, and Pensthorpe.

Of Robert's younger brother John, we know that "John Wright was granted lands by the crown in Sancton in 1553, also parts of the former Acaster property in Selby".

A curious entry is noted in Catholic Recusancy in the City of York 1558-1791 by J.C.H.Aveling:

"f.6v 19 July Margaret, wife of Jn. Wright of York/suspected in religion/she promised to go to church and was enjoined to do so and certify; no bond".

This is almost certainly a reference to Robert's younger brother and his wife. The entry occured along with entries regarding the arrest of Alice Oldcorne, who we have noted below was imprisoned for recusancy between 1560 and 1580 along with John's sister-in-law. No further details of John are available, but present research is attempting to determine if the Wrights of Skelton, from whom the priests William Wright and his brother Thomas Wright are descended, are descendants of either John or Christopher, the younger brothers of Robert Wright of Plowland.

Robert Wright of Foston's daughter Mary married Ralph Crathorne of Ness as we indicated in the tree above. The estates of the Wright family were eventually devised by Francis Wright (son of Nicholas and great-grandson of Robert) on his death in 1664, to his cousin Thomas Crathorne, and hence passed out of the Wright family, curious indeed as there were several potential male heirs through other lines. These properties included Plowland Hall, the manor of Thorpe (purchased by William Wright from Robert Thorpe in 1608), the manors of Pensthorpe, Welwick Thorpe and Thorpe Garth (the original covenant of sale for these four properties was dated 8 October 1607, but Robert Thorpe must have died soon after as the sale was confirmed on 20 April 1608 by Robert's widow Frances Thorpe), and the manor of Welwick Provost, which was sold in 1623 to John Wright by William Whitmore and Edmund Sawyer, and the rectory estate of Orwithfleet, purchased in 1637 by William Wright, from Francis Braddock and Christopher Kingscote.

Faith and the Tainted Blood

The strength of the Wright's Catholic faith is well documented. Ursula Wright, wife of Robert, was incarcerated for a total of 14 years, chiefly in Hull prison with a number of other recusant wives including one of her Babthorpe cousins, and Alice Oldcorne, a relative of the Jesuit Father Edward Oldcorne. It is said that "the courage and cheerfulness of this forceful old lady provided great moral uplift for the other prisoners". William and his wife Ann were likewise attainted several times for recusancy. An interesting anecdote from The Yorkshire Papists says Ann was considered a "lunaticke person" and subsequently absented herself from church. Whether she was indeed mentally unbalanced, or merely employing thoughtful subterfuge against church services that were contrary to her belief we cannot say, but given her previous record it is not difficult to believe her maintaining some charade to avoid attending church.

John and Christopher were related not only to the Wintour brothers of Huddington through their Mallory grandmother, but also to the Rookwoods and the Keyes' through their Babthorpe and Tyrwhitt connections. In fact, John is occassionally referred to as "John Wright of Twigsmore", a manorial estate in the parish of Manton, Lincolnshire, owned in the latter part of the sixteenth century by the Tyrwhitt family. Ex-school colleagues of Guy Fawkes and the priest Oswald Tesimond, and tied by marriage through their sister to the Percys of Spofforth, this completes the picture of these two young men and helps us in understanding how they became involved in Catesby's plot to kill James I.

John Wright married Dorothy, perhaps a close family friend, and is said to have had a family (Poulson's work The History and Antiquities of the Seigniory of Holderness refers to him thus "John, an unfortunate victim to the Gunpowder Plot, had issue, ut pater Welwick Register", but the source for this entry is still being researched. His younger brother Christopher married Margaret Ward, a sister of Marmaduke Ward, of the Wards of Mulwith, and by her he had issue, a son, John (born abt. 1593), who married into the Busfield family of Lincolnshire, and himself had a son called John (Visitation of Yorkshire 1612). As a point of interest, Christopher Wright's widow then married a noted papist, Sir Henry Curwen of Northumberland (the marriage is reported in Cecil Papers 192/63 HMC Vol. XIX accompanied by the date 8 January 1606). This would indicate that Margaret Wright (nee Ward) remarried less than two months after her first husband's death.

The two brothers have variously been described as excellent swordsmen, but hot-headed and often spoiling for a fight. Whether this is a legend or merely propaganda to help explain their later actions is unsure, but John Wright is described as one of the finest swordsmen of his day, and is generally regarded as the first of Robert Catesby's recruits for the Gunpowder Plot. John Wright's part in the Gunpowder Plot is somewhat unclear, although his devotion to the cause was clear. He had formed part of the entourage of the Earl of Essex along with his friend Catesby, and after the aborted uprising in 1601, had spent time in solitary confinement for his crime.

His younger brother Christopher (who was brought into the circle of the conspirators along with John Grant and Robert Wintour in March 1605) was selected by Catesby, Garnet, and several other discontented Catholics to plead their case to the King of Spain in 1603 by means of the Jesuit Joseph Creswell, and to proceed with the invasion of England that had been negotiated by Thomas Wintour the previous year. Wright may have met up with yet another old ally in Anthony Dutton, although Father Albert Loomie, S.J., in his work Guy Fawkes in Spain : The Spanish Treason argues that Anthony Dutton was merely an alias of Wrights, much like Thomas Wintour had used the alias Timothy Browne. Unfortunately no example of Christopher Wright's writing exists to prove either way.

Christopher Wright is also acknowledged as the first of the plotters to learn of Fawkes' capture and the discovery of the gunpowder beneath the Parliament building. Escaping from London early on the morning of Tuesday 5 November 1605, the band of conspirators rode north then north-west, eventually arriving at Holbeche House in Staffordshire, where they planned to make their final stand. On Friday 8 November, the Sheriff of Warwick surrounded the house with the intention of arresting the men for a theft of horses from Warwick Castle whilst fleeing, supposedly unaware that within lay most of those who had plotted to blow up the King three days before. After a series of brief skirmishes, the Wright brothers, Robert Catesby and Thomas Percy lay dead. Today, no stone or plaque marks the spot where these men died.

The Venerable Mary Ward

Ursula Wright, the eldest of Robert Wright's daughters by his second marriage, first married John Constable of Hatfield. Secondly she married Marmaduke Ward, Lord of Givendale, who was brother-in-law to her brother Christopher, and they had a daughter, Mary Ward, who was born on 23 January 1585, and died on 23 January 1645 at Heworth, near York.

In 1590, Marmaduke Ward's house was raised by fire, and he took his daughter to live with her grandmother at Plowland, before going on the run to avoid capture by Henry Hastings who had sworn to rid Yorkshire of all papists. Mary then went to live with her cousins, the Babthorpes, who had a household of fifty-two, including two priests. She entered a convent of Poor Clares at St. Omer as a lay sister in 1606 along with her cousin Barbara Babthorpe. The following year she founded a house for Englishwomen at Gravelines where she became a lady of fashion and society and a harbourer of Jesuit priests. In 1609 she and her devotees established themselves as a religious community at St.Omer called the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was based along the lines of the Society of Jesus, and opened schools for rich and poor.

The venture was a success, but it was a novelty, and it called forth censure and opposition as well as praise. Mary advocated things such as freedom from enclosure, from the obligation of choir, from wearing a religious habit, and from the jurisdiction of the diocesan. Moreover her scheme was put forward at a time when there was much division amongst English Catholics, and the fact that it borrowed so much from the Society of Jesus increased the mistrust it inspired. Pope Pius V had declared solemn vows and strict papal enclosure to be essential to all communities of religious women, and this clearly went against what Mary was trying to achieve. As her order gained ground in Flanders, Austria and Italy, she received great praise for her work from a number of quarters, and was allowed to plead her case for formal approbation in front of the congregation of cardinals appointed by Pope Urban VIII. Unfortunately, there was also much opposition to her schemes, and the order was supressed in 1630.


  • The visitation of Yorkshire in the years 1563 and 1564 by Flower, William, ca. 1498-1588; Norcliffe, Charles Best; Harleian Society Publication date 1881. Page 351link

In time, the order gained more momentum, and in 1703 was approved by Pope Clement XI, and became an institute in 1877 under Pope Pius IX.

Mary eventually returned to England in 1639 with letters of introduction from Pope Urban to Queen Henrietta Maria and established herself in London, before moving north to Heworth near York in 1642, where she died.

Holderness

Holderness was a wapentake and seigniory, over which the family of Constable have resided as lords and chief bailiffs. It was divided into three divisions or chief constableries, middle, north, and south, each of which may be considered as separate wapentakes, and contained the following number of townships, parishes, &c. viz. Middle Division, 36 townships, 15 of which are parishes, 11,942 inhabitants. North Division, 30 townships, 18 of which are parishes, 7577 inhabitants. South Division, 22 townships, 14 of which are parishes, including Sunk Island, 7,007 inhabitants.

"Holderness is bounded on the east by the German ocean, on the south, by the Humber; on the west, by the divisions of Hunsley and Bainton-Beacon; and on the north, by the wapentake of Dickering. Although the general surface of this district, viewed from the Wolds, appears low and flat; when examined upon the spot, it is found to possess a surface capable of being made dry, and every part of it adapted to the purposes of cultivation. The drainages in this district since the year 1762 have been very extensive, and though effected at an immense expense, not less than 190,000L. have proved very beneficial to the country. The seigniory of Holderness was given by William the Conqueror to Drew de Bruerer, a Fleming, on whom William bestowed his niece in marriage; it was afterwards given to Ode de Campania, who had married the King's sister; at his death it devolved upon his son Stephen, whom the King created Earl of Albermarle and Holderness; and after passing through various hands, we find it, in 1682, in the family of the Coniers, Lord Darcy and Coniers, created Earl of Holderness by King Charles II.; in that family it continued many years, and now belongs to Sir Thomas Constable, Bart. for whom the town of Hedon is obliged to find a prison for such malefactors as are taken in this liberty, till they can be sent to the castle of York; and an hall to hold therein a court, called the wapentake court for the trial of actions under 40s. (Source: Magna Brit)

Robert Wright, (b abt 1501-d July 1594- buried 18 Jul 1594 in Welwick), John Wright's son, succeeded as the owner of Plowland (or Plewland). Robert eventually became Sheriff of Yorkshire and was granted Arms by patent under the hand and seal of William Flower, Norroy. Robert initially increased the size of the family estates through the purchase of the manor of Weeton from Robert Rudston[e] in 1555-56, however, his eldest son William conveyed property in Weeton, probably including the manor, to Richard Legard in 1579, as it is not included in the list of properties conveyed to William on Robert's death. Robert was buried 18 July, 1594, in Welwick, seised of the manor of Plowland and lands in Weeton, and Pensthorpe.

Robert married firstly Anne Grimston of Grimston Garth, the daughter of Thomas Grimston, about 1526 in Yorkshire. Anne's ancestry is listed in Collins's Peerage of England, and states of Anne’s father: THOMAS GRIMSTON, Esq. of Grimston, who married the daughter of Nicholas Girlington of Harkfurth, and had (with two daughters, Ann, married to Robert Wright, Esq. of Plowland, county York; and Maud, married to John Thwenge, Esq. of Upper Helmesley) many sons, of whom John was ancestor of the Grimston's of Neswick. His eldest son was another Thomas Grimston. This family is denominated from its possessions in the county of York, and descended from Sylvester de Grimston of Grimston, who attended William, duke of Normandy, in his expedition to England as standard-bearer, and in that station valiantly fought at the battle of Hastings, where the kingdom proved the reward of their victory over Harold, who then possessed the throne; and the year following, on the Conqueror's settling his household, he was appointed his chamberlain, and did homage for Grimston, Hoxton, Tonsted, and other lands, which he held of the Lord Roos, as of his honour of Roos in Holdernesse, Yorkshire.

Robert and Anne (our direct ancestors) had three children:

1) William (see below) born about 1526, died Dec 1616 at Ploughland, Welwick, Yorkshire.

2) Anne

3) Martha

Robert married second Ursula Rudston, whose family had been lords of Hayton, near Pocklington, from the days of King John. Robert and Ursula were staunch Catholics, Ursula Wright, wife of Robert, was incarcerated for a total of 14 years, chiefly in Hull prison with a number of other recusant wives including one of her Babthorpe cousins, and Alice Oldcorne, a relative of the Jesuit Father Edward Oldcorne. It is said that "the courage and cheerfulness of this forceful old lady provided great moral uplift for the other prisoners". Ursula Wright was akin to the Mallory (or Mallorie) family, of Studley Royal, Ripon, and so a cousin in some degree to most of the grand old Yorkshire gentry, such as the Ingleby family, of Ripley Castle and of Harewell Hall, Dacre, near Brimham Rocks, in Nidderdale, and the Markenfields, of Markenfield Hall, near Ripon, to mention others beside." Ursula was the daughter of Nicholas Rudston and Jane Mallory, daughter of Sir William Mallory, of Studley Royal, near Ripon.

Robert and Ursula had at least 5 children. This is as far as I have taken their descendants:

1) John WRIGHT (of "The Gunpowder Plot") (b.13 Jan 1568-probably at Ploughland Hall,parish of Welwick,Yorkshire d.8 Nov 1605-Holbeche House,Staffordshire; killed after the Gunpowder Plot was exposed)

| sp: Dorothy 
 |  +- a)  (a daughter) WRIGHT

2) Christopher WRIGHT (of "The Gunpowder Plot") (b.1570-Ploughland Hall,Welwick,Yorkshire d.8 Nov 1605-Holbeche House,Staffordshire,killed after the Gunpowder Plot was exposed)

| sp: Margaret WARD
|  |  a) Edward WRIGHT (a.6 Oct 1589)
|  |- b) John  WRIGHT (b.Abt 1593)
|  | sp: (Miss) BUSFIELD
|  |  +- i)  John WRIGHT
|  |- c)  Eliza WRIGHT (a.23 Jul 1594)
|  |- d)  Francis WRIGHT (a.12 Jul 1596) (possibly buried at Welwick?) 
 |  +-e)  Marmaduke WRIGHT (a.3 Feb 1601)

3) Ursula WRIGHT (b.Abt 1571 d.1588)

| sp: John CONSTABLE (b.Abt 1554 d.1581)
| sp: Marmaduke WARD (2nd husband)
|  |- a) John WARD (d./from wounds received in a duel)
|  |- b) "The Venerable" Mary WARD (b.23 Jan 1585 d.23 Jan 1645-Heworth,near York)  (another interesting descendant!)
|  |- c)  Barbara WARD (b.1586)
|  +-d)  George WARD

4) Martha WRIGHT (b.Abt 1577)

| sp: Thomas PERCY - Gentleman, the Gunpowder Plot conspirator.   (b.1560 d.9 Nov 1605-Holbeach House, Staffordshire)
|  |- a)  Robert PERCY
|  | sp: Emma MEAD (m.22 Oct 1615)
|  +-b)   (daughter) PERCY
|    sp: Robert CATESBY (son of Robert Catesby the conspirator)

5) Alice WRIGHT

  sp: William READSHAW (m.1593)

John and Christopher Wright are well-known instigators of the infamous Gunpowder Plot, now commemorated every year on Guy Fawkes Day in England. The book The Gunpowder Plot and Lord Mounteagle's Letter gives fascinating details about the entire plot and its consequences.

John and Christopher Wright were schoolfellows of Guy Fawkes. John was the third to be initiated into the Gunpowder Plot, some time in May 1604. Their intentions were to blow up the Houses of Parliament. The plan, of course, failed. Dictionary of National Biography states: “He took an active part in all the operations of the conspirators, and on the eve of the actual discovery of the plot (on the afternoon of 4 Nov.) he fled from London with Catesby. At Holbeche on the morning of the 8th, when an accident took place with some gunpowder, he wished in his despair to ignite the rest so as to blow up the house and all. In the fight which followed with Sir Richard Walsh's men, he and his brother fell mortally wounded. Sir Thomas Lawley, who was in this affair assisting the sheriff of Worcester, wrote to Salisbury: "I hasted to revive Catesby and Percy and the two Wrights, who lay deadly wounded on the ground, thinking by the recovery of these to have done unto his majesty better service than by suffering them to die," but the people standing by roughly stripped the bodies naked, and no surgeon being at hand, they soon died." 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. One quote says he was "shot, buried, dug up, beheaded, and head hung on gates of London."

Christopher Wright married Margaret Ward, a sister of Marmaduke Ward, of the Wards of Mulwith, and by her he had issue, a son, John (born abt. 1593), who married into the Busfield family of Lincolnshire, and himself had a son called John (Visitation of Yorkshire 1612). As a point of interest, Christopher Wright's widow then married a noted papist, Sir Henry Curwen of Northumberland (8 January 1606). This would indicate that Margaret Wright (nee Ward) remarried less than two months after her first husband's death.” Much more can be found online about Christopher, who shared his brother’s fate.


The Estate of Plowland came into the Wright family in the reign of Henry VIII., owing to John Wright, Esquire (a man of Kent), having married Alice Ryther, one of the co-heiresses of Sir John Ryther, of Ryther, on the banks of the "lordy Wharfe", between York and Selby.

John Wright's son, Robert, succeeded as the owner of Plowland (or Plewland). Robert Wright married for his second wife Ursula Rudston, whose family had been lords of Hayton near Pocklington, from the days of King John. Ursula Wright was akin to the Mallory (or Mallorie) family, of Studley Royal, Ripon, and so a cousin in some degree to most of the grand old Yorkshire gentry, such as the Ingleby family, of Ripley Castle and Harewell Hall, Darce, near Brimham Rocks, in Nidderdale, and the Markenfields, of Markenfields Hall, near Ripon, to mention none others beside.

Robert Wright (the second Wright who owned Plowland) had been married before his marriage to Ursula Rudston. His first wife's name was Anne Grimstone. She was the daughter of Thomas Grimstone, Esquire, of Grimstone Garth. Robert Wright and Anne Grimstone had one son who "heired" Plowland. His name was William Wright. He married Ann Thornton, of East Newton, in Rydale, a lady who was related to many old Rydale and Vale of Mowbray families in the North Riding of Yorkshire. The names of William Wright and Ann, his wife (born Thornton), are still recorded on a brass in the north isle of Welwick Church.

William Wright was a half-brother to Ursula Ward, the wife of Marmaduke Ward, of Mulwith, Newby, and Givendale, near Ripon, the parents of the great Mary Ward, the friend of popes, emperors, kings, nobles, statesmen, warriors and indeed of the most distinguished personages of Europe during the reigns of James I. and Charles I. William Wright (or Wryght, as the name is spelt on the brass in Welwick Church) was also half-brother to the two Gunpowder conspirators, John and Christopher Wright, who were slain at Holbeach House, Staffordshire, a few days after the capture of Guy Fawkes by Sir Thomas Knevet, early in the morning of November 5th, 1605.

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Robert Wright, Esq.'s Timeline

1502
1502
Welwick, East Riding of Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
1526
1526
Welwick, East Riding of Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
1529
1529
Welwick, East Riding of Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
1560
1560
Welwick, East Riding of Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
1565
1565
Welwick, East Riding of Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
1568
January 16, 1568
Welwick, East Riding of Yorkshire, England
1570
1570
Welwick, East Riding of Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
1570
Welwick, East Riding of Yorkshire, England