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
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
Wright existed as an occupational name in its own right, or in
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..

Wright Resources on

England. Some of the early Wrights were from Essex in the
southeast of England. They

  • 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
    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,
    in 1648 another Catholic house in Essex, Cranham Hall at Bishop’s

the Norfolk Wrights, said to have been a prosperous family of flock
(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

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
in Yorkshire and the northeast.

distribution showed the Wright name strongest on the east coast of
England, in
a line running south from Durham through Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, and
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
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
appeared as early as 1296 when
Wright of Stirling and Thomas Wright of
Blakenhall in Lanarkshire rendered homage to Edward I of England in the
Ragman’s Roll.
It later was evident in Berwickshire.

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

America. 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 1630’s 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
    Ketcham’s 1913 book History of the Wright
  • Samuel Wright was there by 1636 and he settled in
    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
    Orville Wright came.
  • while others of the line were also believed to have
    arrived by

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

other Wright Quakers, none more notable than James Wright, a Quaker minister first recorded in
Chester county,
Pennsylvania in the early 1700’s. He
moved with his family to the Quaker Hopewell community in the
Shenandoah valley
of Virginia in the 1730’s.

His son John Wright headed to another Quaker community in Bush
river, South Carolinain the 1760’s.
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.

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.

Canada. 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.

Wright Miscellany

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

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.
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)




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