MySource:WeRelate/Wright, Michael C. E-mail Regarding Genealogy of Deacon Samuel and other Early American Wrights

MySource Wright, Michael C. E-mail Regarding Genealogy of Deacon Samuel and other Early American Wrights
Author Michael C Wright
Year range 1620 - 1720
Surname Wright
Michael C Wright. Wright, Michael C. E-mail Regarding Genealogy of Deacon Samuel and other Early American Wrights.


DNA Update (abt 2002)

DNA Genealogy update. Since Deacon Samuel Wright's parents cannot be proved (believed to be of the Kelvedon Hall Wrights in England), and Thomas Wright's parents are proved, if we could have a male Wright descended from Thomas Wright take the DNA test, then we can compare results to help us confirm Samuel's parentage.

Deacon Samuel Wright of Springfield and Northfield MA - Note to Jeffery (abt 2002)

Hi Jeffery,

I am not sure whether I have contacted you before, but I saw Charlie's request for your new web site and checked out what you have there at the URL you gave him this weekend. I just wanted to let you know that we are very distant cousins. Our common ancestor is your ninth generation Charles Wright of Pownal, VT. I am descended from his son, Josiah Wright, younger brother to your Samuel Wright. I am also in touch with descendants of Samuel and Josiah's sister, Dorcas. I just wanted to extend a good Texas "Howdy" to you cousin, and to discuss our common ancestry through Deacon Samuel Wright!

The reason I wanted to comment on your ancestry of Deacon Samuel Wright of Springfield and Northampton, MA is because for the last five years I have been doing an extensive research project on his parentage. I started by rechecking every original US and English document that has ever been used (or inferred) as a reference in any published work regarding him. What I found is that much of what we thought we knew about this matter is not verifiable and, in fact, can be shown to be untrue, or at least, unlikely.

For instance, Sgt. Samuel Wright, the Deacon's eldest son was not baptized in Kelvedon Hatch in 1632. There is no parish record at all of this event in the St. Nicholas Church register nor is there any record of such a baptism associated with the Kelvedon Hall church which was the original St. Nicholas church building. It is also highly unlikely that Samuel would have been baptized anywhere near Kelvedon Hall because it was a known Catholic church by 1605, when its benefactor, John Wright (of the Elder John Wright line), was converted by William Byrd to the Catholic faith. The very Puritan Deacon would never have personally set foot in the church at Kelvedon Hall, let alone allowed his eldest son to be baptized there!

Another issue we have resolved is whether Nathaniel and Lydia (James) Wright were the Deacon's parents. They were not. Their eldest son, Samuel, was born in 1614. He grew up in London and went into the merchant trade with his father. When the textile/wool trade business tanked in the early 1640's due to the disruption of the civil war, Samuel left that trade, and to avoid conscription into either the King's army or Parliament's army he entered Cambridge University and matriculated as a 29 year old man in 1644. He obtained a divinity degree and can be followed in certain ecclesiastical records, including his later attendance at Oxford to obtain a Doctor of Divinity degree and his problems staying in a living because of his form of worship becoming unpopular at various times in various places in the Commonwealth years. He comes particularly to light after the Restoration in 1660 as he is put out of his living and goes to Oxford for his DD as a means of avoiding problems with Charles II.

He died and is buried in the parish he was ministering to and not in Bishopgate where his mother and all of his other siblings are buried. Incidentally, his father, Nathaniel is not buried at Bishopgate either and may have died abroad. We are still checking that out to try to find out what happened to him.

Also, we have discovered that Bennett Greene was not Nathaniel Wright's mother, but his stepmother. Nathaniel was born in 1581. Lord (to be) John Wright's wife at the time (his first wife) was Elizabeth Linsell. In the 1634 Visitations, Nathaniel did list Bennett as his mother, but by his own baptismal record, the record of Elizabeth's death and the record of John Wright's marriage to Bennett, Nathaniel had to have been about 8 when Lord John married Bennett. Maybe Bennett was all he ever thought of as his mother, or maybe there were ulterior motives. There is good reason to suspect that this slight shading of the truth in his Visitations declaration was not accidental, but designed to insulate him from the King's wrath to a certain degree. In 1634 Nathaniel was likely on the Merchant/ Parliament side of the growing confrontation with King Charles I. As such he would have had need of every scrap of birthright prestige he could muster in the Visitations to try to maintain his economic position. The Greene family connection brought considerably more prestige, back into antiquity, than was offered by the Linsell family name. Between the Wright and Greene family heritage he could claim by birth on both sides of his family to be loyal to the King by tradition.

Though our research is not yet completed on the matter of the Deacon's parentage, the best alternative candidate at this time remains John, Esq., Martha (Castell) Wright of London/ Havering/ Wrightsbridge, whom others (don Wright's group) have previously proposed. John Wright, Esq., born in 1569 to Lord John Wright and Elizabeth Linsell and was Lord John Wright's eldest son. He attended Cambridge University and then studied the law after admission to Grays Inn. By all accounts John Wright Esq. was a Puritan leaning Protestant. Lord John Wright was no doubt also a Protestant sympathizing Peer in the House of Lords (peerage granted by Elizabeth I, June 20, 1590). In 1612 John Wright, Esq. was appointed a clerk to the House of Commons and was no doubt a Puritan leaning Protestant who would perhaps have been a bit at odds with his father in the House of Lords over how to deal with the refusal of King James I to share any power of governance with Parliament. There is an existent Parliamentary document protesting some actions of King James I with John Wright's signature on it in his capacity as clerk of the House of Commons. Such a prominent display of animosity with the King by a recognizable family member would no doubt have disturbed even a Protestant Peer of the House of Lords! It is not possible to tell how well Lord John Wright and his eldest son got along. Because Lord John lived to a ripe old age, the fact that John Wright, Esq. never inherited the estates of Wrightsbridge and Dagenhams could perhaps mean only that John Wright Esq. was already too well established and advanced in years to be considered a suitable heir for such a large estate, or it could mean that there was a rift between them or it could have been that John Esq. simply disdained the family estate and its landed gentry style of living. In any case, he had homes in London and Havering and seems only to have been a visitor at Wrightsbridge, never its Lord.

His sons with Martha Castell were John (1599) Nathaniel (1604) Samuel (1606) and Robert (1609). Martha died in 1610 and he did not remarry until about 1618 to Fortune (Garaway) Blount, widow of Sir Edward Blount. By Fortune he had at least one known child, James. It is the Samuel baptized on June 29 or 30 (the Roman numerals look like they could be either XXIX or XXX) 1606, in the South Weald parish church of St. Peters. Just before this baptism we see in the parish record that Samuel's uncle, Samuel Wright (bapt. 1571), son of John Wright of the Bridge (Lord John Wright) and younger brother of John Wright, Esq. died and was buried in South Weald. It is very likely that Samuel was named after this uncle who had just died.

Another tidbit we have picked up is that the Margaret Wright's maiden name was almost certainly not Stratton. We think we know who she was, but we are searching for a missing parish register. If we can find that register, we think we will not only find her marriage to the Deacon, but also the baptisms of their first five children, Samuel, Margaret, Hester, Lydia, and Mary. We believe they were married in about 1625/26 and Margaret may have actually been the eldest child. We are also quite certain that Hannah and Benjamin Wright of Springfield records were not the children of Deacon Samuel Wright and Margaret. They may have been niece and nephew or cousins. We are still looking into the extended family to see if we can identify any of the other Wrights who might have come with them to New England.

These are just some of the corrections to the Deacon's lineage that we hope to publish within the next two years. Ellen Baker of Washington State is keeping a list of folks that have an interest in this research and maintaining a file of the correspondences that we are aware of pertaining to the subject. If you cannot reach me, you can always contact her at xxxxxxxxxx to get the latest update. You will notice I have copied her on this correspondence. Charlie Wright (the one who asked about your web site) is also aware of the work I am doing as well as the work done by others in recent years. He is working on his own publications as well and has recently published several very nice compilations of Walpole, NH cemetery data.

At any rate, I just wanted to let you know, if you were not already aware, of the work that is going on now, which may someday cause you to want to update your web site with more recent research than is available from publications like that of Curtis Wright!

Speaking of Curtis Wright's book, I have followed (from both sides of the Atlantic) the correspondences of Curtis Wright with a couple of English genealogist he consulted about the Deacon and Thomas Wright of Wethersfield, and another New England genealogist, Rodney P. Wright who was interested in every New England Wright family. From reading their letters sent to England (located in the SOG library in London) and then the English genealogist's responses (located in collections at the NEHGS Library in Boston), you get a real appreciation for how hard it was to access vital records, parish records or any kind of genealogical record in turn of the century England. Curtis did a very good job in his research, but there are a lot of missing references that his text begs to have. I now appreciate why that is so, and why a some of what Curtis ended up writing was just a guess that goes astray (like the Deacon's parents being most likely Nathaniel and Lydia Wright and when and where Sgt. Samuel Wright was baptized). The English genealogists were not too helpful in terms of being able to put a particular record or event into any meaningful historical context if, indeed, they could find anything at all. So, it was very difficult for Curtis to tease out all that he needed to provide proper references. There were also some typos in his text that went uncorrected because he was the preeminent authority of his day on the subject. There was no one qualified to check up on him. For instance, he reports that Rev. Henry Wright was born in 1424 in Upminster, Co. Suffolk. It was actually Co. Essex. There was no Upminster, Co. Suffolk in 1424 and Curtis almost certainly knew that. I assume, therefore, that it was just a typo that did not get fixed before publication because of the huge amount of effort that was undoubtedly required to proof galleys in those days, as well as the fact that his real focus was to provide an enormous amount of good information on the descendant families of Sir John Wright of Kelvedon Hatch and Thomas Wright of Wethersfield. We must all forgive Curtis these problems with his nearly 100 year old publication. There is much to build on in his work, but first we have to fix a few things up. We hope the be able to do that within our publication, at least insofar as the Deacon's ancestry is concerned.

I will not bother you with additional details here, unless you are interested in some aspect of what we are doing in particular. I just wanted to let you know there is much more to be learned on the subject of the Deacon Samuel Wright and who it is that is bent on learning it.

Best Regards,

Michael C. Wright

Misattribution of Hannah and Benjamin as children of Deacon Samuel Wright - Note to Ellen (abt 2002)


I checked Jane Devlin's posting at the web page you specified and find the usual mistakes, except that she has homed in on the John and Martha (Castell) Wright parentage OK.

One of the older issues on her web page that has largely been debunked by others includes the mistake of putting Hannah and Benjamin in the Deacon's direct line. Unfortunately, I too, can find no supporting evidence for Hannah or Benjamin being the Deacon's daughter and son. Jane references unreliable sources for this information, that were speculative in their own right. For instance, I do not consider Coddington's otherwise excellent Stebbins genealogy accurate with respect to its speculation on Hannah's parentage. Pynchon's record of the marriage does not name her father as Samuel, nor is there any mention of her father in the Clemens compilation of marriage records before 1699 (which he gleaned, in part, from Pynchon's records anyway). Unfortunately, Coddington was willing to voice these speculations (on what I consider very thin evidence) in his American Genealogist publication on the Stebbins family and others have taken his speculation as gospel for long enough that it has taken root as fact in many family trees.

I think it is more likely that Hannah was a niece or other relative of Samuel's or he or Margaret would have provided for her children (Samuel Wright Stebbins and Sarah Stebbens) in their wills as they did for their other grandchildren. Also, there is no record in the parish register of any Hannah Wright being born in Wrightsbridge, Co. Essex, England in 1625, 1626 or 1627 let alone one to a Samuel Wright, as is proposed by Coddington. This speculation on Coddington's part is based on a birth date deduction from Hannah's marriage date and an assumption that she was Samuel Wright's daughter and they both lived in the Wrightsbridge area of Co. Essex, England prior to coming to New England. All this, sad to say, is not likely to have been the truth of the matter. The lack of this birth record (or any other for Samuel and Margaret) to be found where it would most certainly be if it were true speaks the final verdict on that speculation, I am afraid.

Benjamin Wright is a like case where there is not a shred of evidence, except proximity in Springfield, that he and Samuel were in any way related. At least with the Hannah and the Stebbins connection, there is documentation that Samuel Wright and Thomas Stebbins knew one another well and had common cause together on at least some occasions. While that might be considered adequate basis for assuming Hannah was Samuel's daughter, I think the probate record is a better indicator of family ties and it says she and her children were not of Samuel's direct line. (Hannah predeceased the Deacon, so she would not have been mentioned in his will, but her children were alive and Thomas had not remarried at the time Samuel made his will, so I would have expected them to be mentioned as the other grandchildren were.) With Benjamin, there is not mention of him, his wife or children in either Samuel's or Margaret's wills even though all of them were alive at the time of Samuel's death and he named every other child and grandchild alive at the time. Not many researchers of the Deacon believe this connection any more. For instance, Don Wright and his crew do not support this connection.

Well, anyway, I might drop Jane a line just to let her know there is some discussion of these things going on. I can not imagin she isn't already aware of it. If she is actively working on other projects, she may not want to mess with fixing it up or she may consider she is only posting what she can reference, which is OK when you cite the references and they are published. Sort of puts the pressure on to get my act together and publish some of my work, doesn't it!

Again, thanks for thinking of my work and pointing me to yet another site on the Deacon Samuel Wright.

Best Regards,

Mike Wright

Recent Remarks, Permission to Reproduce (2012)

Hi Jeff,

I think most of what I wrote back then, I can still stand behind, except the 2 year promise to publish! This research has blossomed into so much more than I ever imagined. With the advent of genetic genealogy, we have not only been able to show that Deacon Samuel Wright was indeed a Kelvedon Hatch Wright, but that the male line probably originated in England with a 1st century Roman era Thracian/Illyrian mercenary soldier who was brought to England as a member of the calvary auxiliary attached to Roman Legion XX. This new origins theory comes in stark contrast to the Bayeux, Normandy origins theory of George Wright's 1929 publication. Using Y-DNA data from our group, we can not only prove George Wright's theory is not possible, we can prove that the Roman era arrival of our English ancestor is the only theory supported by historical records and genetic genealogy data.

In short, most of what I have learned since I wrote you only adds further details to what I was speculating on at that time and has not altered the basic information I provided then. So, I see no reason to prohibit its use based on it containing gross inaccuracies. I am only struck by how much I have learned since then and how quaint my comments were. Please feel free to forward this to James, if you like or pass on my permission, as you see fit.

Best Regards, Mike