WRIGHT, John (1615-83), of Ipswich, Suff.
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Family and Education
?bap. 9 Apr. 1615, 1st s. of John Wright of Russell’s Rents, Shoreditch, Mdx. by Mary Allin. m. (1) 29 Dec. 1642, Judith (d. 23 Apr. 1677), da. and h. of William Hill, master mariner, of Ratcliff, Stepney, Mdx., 5s. (2 d.v.p.) 8da.; (2) lic. 14 July 1680, Jane. da. of Anthony Lawrence, Leatherseller, of Hackney, Mdx., wid. of Henry Wood of Caistor, Norf. and of Robert Hudson, master mariner, of Bethnal Green, Mdx., s.p.1
Commr. for militia, Tower Hamlets Mar. 1660, capt. of militia horse Apr. 1660; freeman, Ipswich 1662, portman 1663-d., bailiff 1664-5, 1670-1, July-Sept. 1674, 1676-7, Sept. 1683-d.; commr. for assessment, Ipswich 1663-4, Suff. and Ipswich 1673-80, recusants, Suff. 1675.2
Wright bore a name prominent in Ipswich municipal records during the 17th century, but most of the relatives mentioned in his will lived in the East End of London. As his date of birth is approximately established by his epitaph, it seems probable that he was the eldest son of John Wright and Mary Allin, who were married at St. Leonard Shoreditch on 5 June 1614. He was described as a merchant at the time of his own first marriage, and in partnership with William Wood he supplied the Commonwealth navy with masts, in the choice of which he was reputed to have great skill. But he does not appear to have held local office until the return of the secluded Members. Shortly after the Restoration he moved to Ipswich, and was admitted a freeman without fine. In the following year he was chosen portman in place of Thomas Wright, who had been removed by the commissioners for corporations. He acquired considerable property in the town, and bought the Freston estate four miles down the river. He displayed outstanding energy in municipal affairs, purchasing a fire-engine and riding to Bristol to claim a legacy for Ipswich. As bailiff during the second Dutch war, he imprisoned a man for spreading defeatist rumours, and was reappointed under the new charter.3
Wright was returned for the borough at an uncontested election during his second term of office, and probably became an active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, though after 1673 he cannot always be distinguished from the court lawyer Robert Wright. He was certainly appointed to 26 committees, and possibly to 117 more, many of which were concerned with shipping and trade. He probably reported the bill for better regulation of coal, wood and corn measures on 16 Feb. 1674, and a naturalization bill on 8 May 1675. Danby tentatively entered his name on the working lists, but could not find a manager for him, and by the autumn he was clearly in Opposition. On 22 Oct. he came out against the government motion to authorize the building of forty warships on the grounds that
twenty are as many as can be built in three years time; and twenty well-manned will be as many as are necessary to fight with all the world.
He twice intervened in debate on 3 Nov. on the cost of the programme, and the Admiralty suggested that he and Wood with other ‘eminent merchant-builders’ should be consulted about the practicability of maintaining separate building accounts as required by the Act. Shaftesbury classed him as ‘doubly worthy’ in 1677, when he took the chair for the inquiry into the sale of passes for shipping. Among his committees in the later sessions were those to consider ordnance and Admiralty papers, and to prevent Papists sitting in Parliament. It was doubtless Wright who served on the committees to inquire into the Popish Plot and to examine Coleman’s papers, since his namesake was under suspicion of involvement in the Plot.4
Again listed by Shaftesbury as ‘worthy’, Wright continued to represent Ipswich in the Exclusion Parliaments. He made no recorded speeches in any of these but was an active committeeman in 1679, when he was probably appointed to 23 committees, including those for disabling members of convocation for not taking the oaths, for the continuation of the prohibition of Irish cattle and for security against Popery. His committees of commercial interest included those for examining naval miscarriages and for encouraging the export of cloth to Turkey. He voted for exclusion, and after his reelection the Ipswich corporation resolved to give him £60 for his parliamentary services. In the second Exclusion Parliament he seems to have been moderately active, with seven committees, of which the most important were those on the additional bill for burying in woollen, for the inquiry into abhorring and for the prohibition of Scottish cattle, and acting as teller for the motion to give Sir William Spring leave to go into the country. In the Oxford Parliament, he probably served on the committee of elections and privileges. He died on 29 Nov. 1683, aged 68, and was buried at St. Clement’s, Ipswich, where a memorial records that he was ‘freely chosen burgess in four several Parliaments’. His son inherited Freston, but no later member of the family entered Parliament.5
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: Paula Watson / Geoffrey Jaggar
- 1. Guildhall Lib. mss. 7493; East Anglian, n.s. ix. 53; PCC 97 Hare; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 722, 1514; Vis. Glos. ed. Fenwick and Metcalfe, 110; Diary of Wm. Lawrence ed. Aylmer, 60-61.
- 2. East Anglian, n.s. vii. 123, 185, 316; viii. 210; Parl. Intell. 23 Apr. 1660; R. Canning, Principal Charters of Ipswich, 33; information from Miss P. Woodgate.
- 3. Stepney Par. Reg. ii. 32; CSP Dom. 1651, p. 558; 1652-3, p. 508; 1664-5, pp. 353-4; 1670, p. 425; Cal. Ct. Mins. E.I. Co. ed. Sainsbury, iv. 86; PCC 97 Hare; East Anglian, n.s. vii. 266; viii. 31.
- 4. East Anglian, n.s. viii. 270; Grey, ix. 310, 329, 405; Cat. Pepysian Mss (Navy Rec. Soc. lvii), 429.
- 5. G. R. Clarke, Ipswich, 435; East Anglian, n.s. ix. 53; PCC 97 Hare; Copinger, Suff. Manors, vi. 41.