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The Wright Family


List of Wright family members on FamilyLore »

Basic History

"Wright" is a surname shared by many distinct family lines. It has several possible origins, including:

  • an English occupational surname (i.e., deriving from an ancestor's craft, especially in carpentry);
  • an anglicized form of "MacIntyre," from the Scottish Clan MacIntyre (originally "Mac an t-Saoir" – "Son of the Carpenter");
  • the Irish kinship sept Mac an Cheairt (literally, "son of the right or righteous") in County Mayo, whose members would sometimes change their name to "Wright;"
  • several noble lines, including that of John Wryta, the chief weapons smith for William the Conqueror.

The Wrights investigated by FamilyLore comprise a specific family tree in this vast and diverse forest.

The Wright Family currently being researched by FamilyLore is believed to be descended from Nicholas Wright of Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY. Nicholas and his brothers Peter and Anthony Wright helped to found Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY. Peter Wright is called the "Father of Oyster Bay." Immigrants from England, they settled first in Plymouth Colony, MA but eventually moved to Long Island, NY in 1656. They were devout Quakers and their family played a significant role in the early history of this denomination.

Orville and Wilbur Wright biographer Louis Chmiel in his book Ohio, Home of the Wright Brothers discusses one origin of the "Wright" family surname with a likely descent from John Wryta, a highly skilled craftsman who (along with his sons) accompanied William the Conquerer (while Duke of Normandy) to England during the Norman Invasion. The Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company genealogy page has more information.

A Sampling of Ancestors of Historic Interest

Through Gretchen Myrtle Farwell

The following persons are related to the Wright family through the children of Gretchen Myrtle Farwell, in her marriage to John Wright, Jr.. Dates subject to change depending on current research.

Family Heraldry

As would be expected given its diverse origins, the Wright family surname is associated with a number of coats of arms. The right to present armorial bearings was regulated by civil law in Britain, and a source of distinction in itself. A helpful page has compiled examples and histories for a number of Wright family coats of arms (descriptions follow):

(From the link above) There are about 70 associated armorial bearings for Wright and close variant spellings recorded in Reitstap’s Armorial General or Sir Bernard Burke’s General Armory. The additional information, presented below, is offered with regard to the armorial bearings depicted above:

FIGURE 1: These armorial bearings, granted as early as 1767, represent several branches of the Wright families in Essex, England primarily at Bellendon, and Hatfield Priory as well as at Gayhurst in Buckinghamshire. The various crests of these particular arms would be the differentiating factor.

FIGURE 2: This coat-of-arms was granted in 1583 to a Wright of Bickley in Cheshire, and is among the oldest known of this surname. These arms feature a silver shield with two blue bars and three silver leopards' faces on a blue chief. The crest is a silver leopard's face. Similar arms containing a crescent for difference were confirmed in 1662 as the arms of a Wright in the city of Chester.

FIGURE 3: This shield was conveyed to Wright of Longstone Hall, in Derbyshire and Wright of Twayte in Norfolk*. The crest, (not shown) is of a cubit arm holding in the hand a broken spear.

FIGURE 4: This figure represents the shield as sanctioned to Wright of Osmaston Manor in Derbyshire and originally of Stowmarket, in Suffolk. The crest (not shown) features a silver unicorn's head charged upon the neck with three red spearheads. The motto of this Wright is “Ad rem”, see below. This shield design was also utilized by another Wright family branch from Mapperley Hall and Stapleford Hall, in Nottinghamshire, as well as various Wrights’ of Lenton Hall, Rempstone, and Upton in the same county. The difference in the arms of the Nottingham Wrights’ is that their crest displays a silver unicorn’s head coming out of a golden crescent. The motto of this branch is also “Ad rem.”

FIGURE 5: This coat-of-arms was conveyed to a Wright of Sedgefield in Durham. Wright of Kilverstone, in Norfolk has similar arms except the spearheads are blue.

FIGURE 6: These armorial bearings as well as those shown in figure 1 identify the Wrights of Essex county, England. The distinguishing characteristic found in these arms are the three golden leopards’ faces as well as the design of the crest which features a green dragon’s head rising out of a golden ducal coronet (crown). These arms, granted in 1509 to Wright of Dagenham,** are also among the oldest known. This Wright line became extinct in 1681. This coat of arms is also identified with Wright of Cranham Hall in Essex. The Cranham Hall baronetcy became extinct in 1788. Sir Edmund Wright, Lord Mayor of London, was also granted these or similar arms in 1641.

FIGURE 7: These arms were granted to Wright of Kelvedon Hall in Essex. Unlike the other arms of the Wrights of Essex these feature only one gold leopard face and the crest shows a gold, rather than green, dragon head.

FIGURE 8: This Coat-of-arms was granted to a Wright of Hampshire***. Similar to the arms of the Wrights of Durham the shield is blue having a chevron between three golden fleurs-de-lis, and three silver spearheads on a red chief.

FIGURE 9: These armorial bearings were conferred to a Wright of Sigglesthorne Hall, in Yorkshire. The coat-of-arms presents a gold shield with a checkered silver and blue fesse between two silver eagle heads in chief, and a silver feather in base. The crest is a unicorn passant, divided per pale gold and blue gorged with a collar, with a blue feather in its mouth. The motto lf this Wright is “Meritez” meaning “Deserve”.

FIGURE 10: This shield belongs to the arms granted by Sir William Betham the Ulster King of Arms, to John Wright, Esq., of Compsey Cottage, in county Tipperary. John Wright is descended maternally from Sir Richard Shee, Knight, of Uppercourt Manor, in county Kilkenny, and Cloran, in county Tipperary. The crest which is not shown is of a dexter (right) hand grasping a dagger piercing a leopard's face from above. The motto of this Wright is “Per ariua”.

FIGURE 11: This coat-of-arms was confirmed to Thomas Charles Wright of Guayaquil, Ecuador in South America. He is the second son of Joseph Wright Esq., of Queensborough, in Drogheda, Ireland. Similar arms with tilting spearheads were granted in 1691 to James Wright of County Monaghan.

FIGURE 12: This coat-of-arms was conferred to Wright of Bradbury in Durham. The crest, not shown, is a red dragon's head.

FIGURE 13: These armorial bearings are attributed by some as belonging to a Wright of Ireland. It features a blue shield containing three silver axes. Rietstap describes similar arms for Wright with the addition of four gold-toothed spears in the chief.

  • Burke cites location as Suffolkshire.
    • Dagenham was an ancient, and later civil, parish in the Becontree hundred of Essex. Dagenham is now a large suburb in east London, England, forming the eastern part of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.
      • Burke uses the Hants rather than Hampshire.