THE WRIGHT LINEAGE
The Wrights of England, Scotland & Ireland
Within the great island of Scotland and England, the family name WRIGHT is believed to be descended originally from the Boernicians. This ancient founding race of the North were a mixture of Scottish Picts and Angles, a race dating from about the year 400 AD. By 1000 AD, this race had formed into discernable clans and families, perhaps some of the first evidence of the family structure in Britain.
From these fighting clans of the border the surname WRIGHT was found in Berwickshire. They were first settled in Plowland in Holderness where they had been settled from very early times, moving north into Durham, where they were seated at Bradbury and Sedgefield, Northumberland and Berwick. Their estates in Yorkshire were at Bolton-upon-Swale, Botton Hall, and Sigglesthorn Hall. Moving south, branches of the family also acquired Brattleby in Lincoln, and at Mottram and Bickley in Cheshire. Meanwhile, in the north, Thomas Wright of Alnwick was prominent and recorded in 1342 the Wrights of Aberdeen and Berwick. Notable among the family name during the early history was Earl of Elgin and Kincardine.
The clans or families to the north of the border became Scottish after about the year 1000 AD, and to the south they became English. Nevertheless, despite the border, many would still be united clans, but strangely loyal to the defense of their respective countries.
Clan feuds became so intense that in 1246 AD, six chiefs from the Scottish side and six from the English side met at Carlisle and created a set of laws for all the border territory. These were unlike any laws prevailing in England or Scotland, or for that matter, anywhere else in the world. For refusal of assistance when called, a person would be hanged instantly, without a trial. While clans were on this ‘hot trod’ to recover property (from which we get the modern expression ‘hot to trot’) they were protected from almost all eventualities.
In 1603, the crowns of Scotland and England unified under James VI of Scotland who found it expedient to disperse the ‘unruly border clans’. The Border Clans were dispersed to England, northern Scotland and to Ireland. Some were banished to the Colonies.
In Ireland, they were granted lands previously held by the Catholic Irish. They signed an ‘undertaking’ to remain Protestant and faithful to the Crown. In Ireland, they settled in Gola in County Monaghan, Newry in County Down, Compsey Cottage in Tipperary, and Mespil in Dublin.
The Wright family was prominent in England both in civil and spiritual affairs. There were many knights, lords, members of Parliament, judges, etc. Sir William was granted lands in Ireland, and became the progenitor of Wrights of Ireland. Edward of England (same family) was the most eminent mathematician of his day, and published works in 1612 which greatly aided navigation.
Five ancestors of the present day American and English families of Wright were Normans in the Army of William the Conqueror. Victory at the Battle of Hastings made him ruler of England in 1066. These five brothers of the Wryta family of Bayeux, Normandy, were direct descendants of original Viking settlers in Normandy, and were the progenitors of the English and American Wrights of present day.
The New World beckoned and many of the Wright family had become disenchanted. They sailed aboard the armada of sailing ships known as the “White Sails” which plied the stormy Atlantic. Some called them, less romantically, the ‘coffin ships.’ Amongst the first pioneers who could be considered kinsmen of the family Wright was Robert Wright, who settled in Virginia in 1623; John Wright who settled in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in 1730; Richard Wright who settled in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1630 with his wife Margaret and daughter, later settling in Virginia in 1636; and John Wright, who settled in Georgia in 1732. These pioneers became the nucleus of the first settlements from Maine to the Cumberland Gap. They provided much of the stock which produced the early presidents and governors of the United States. In Canada, they settled in Nova Scotia, the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa Valleys.
The family name Wright provided some famous contemporaries: Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect; Sir Dennis Wright, Diplomat; Lady Beatrice Wright of Connecticut; Orville and Wilbur Wright (1871-1948) who built a petrol engine to attach to a glider and made four flights on December 17, 1903; Frederick Wright, Railroad General Manager; Admiral Gerauld Wright, Diplomat; Sir Paul Wright, Diplomat; Admiral Royston Wright; and Sewall Wright, Genetics.
There are four coats-of-arms for the Wright family. The most ancient grant of coat of arms researched was on a gold background a checkered silver and blue stripe between three eagles’ heads. The Crest was a Unicorn.
The ancient family motto for our family was: “Mens Sibi Conscia Recti” meaning “A Mind Conscious of its Own Rectitude.”
Our Heritage – From Weyta to Wright
In tracing our own Wright lineage, we are led to the ‘tree’ branches called Kelvedon and Kilvestone. The Wrights of the Kelvedon branch trace back to Sir John Wright, Lord of Kelvedon Hall, County Essex, England, born 1488, died in 1551. Those who are of the Kilvestone branch trace their ancestry back to Sir Thomas Wright of Kilvestone Hall, County Norfolk, England. Both of these branches descend from the old Saxon Wryta family of Bayeux, Normandy. Wryta (or Weyta) like the latin ‘faber,’ means a workman of any kind, especially an artisan in wood or hard material – the millwright of a century ago.
John Weyta, founder of the family in Normandy, was skilled in wood carving, manufacture of metallic articles, especially weapons of war. His descendants were experts of the same, referred to Weyta family in recognition of this. All five brothers accompanied King William and fought under his banner in Hastings. Two brothers, Richard and William were knighted for bravery prior to the invasion. The other three brothers, Henry, John, and Thomas were subsequently knighted by the King and given grants of land and manors in the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex. Two principal Wright families of England, many of America, trace ancestry back to the descendants of these brothers. We trace ours back to John Wright of Kelvedon and Thomas Wright of Kilvestone.
The Kelvedon Branch
Sir John Wright, Lord of Kelvedon Hall, County Essex, England (1488-1551) was the progenitor of this branch of the family. William Wright of London, England, Sir John’s great-grandson, was the first to settle in New England, where he landed near Saugus, Massachusetts, in 1621. Several others of the Kelvedon line came to Massachusetts between 1621 and 1640, among them Thomas Wright and family, Anthony Wright, his brother, Richard Wright, Samuel Wright, Edward Wright, George Wright, and others of the Kelvedon branch. William Wright married in England Miss Priscilla Carpenter, sister of Alice (Carpenter) Southworth, who was second wife of Governor William Bradford, and came on the second ship to New England, The Fortune on July 1621. He lived in Scituate, Mass., where he died in 1633, leaving all his property to his wife Priscilla. She later married John Cooper of Barnstable and moved with him to Barnstable in 1639.
William’s daughter Alice Wright, who was born in England about 1614, came over in 1635 at age 21 to join relatives. Her marriage to Peter Wright (of the Kilvestone branch), a distant cousin, brought about the union of the Kelvedon and Kilvestone lines of Wrights in their children, thus the tie we have to both family lines.
The Kilvestone Branch
Sir Thomas Wright of Kilvestone Hall, near Thetford in County Norfolk, is the progenitor of this branch. His son, Nicholas Wright, married Anne Beaupre and had a son named Nicholas. Son Nicholas married Ellen Gylbert on February 18, 1559, the daughter of William Gylbert, Vicar of Barton Turf. One of their five children was also named Nicholas, born in County Norfolk. He and his second wife, Margaret Nelson (married 9/20/1594) had five children. Their three sons, Anthony, Peter and Nicholas were the first from this family branch to immigrate to the New World, to Massachusetts.
The Wrights of America
When Anthony, Peter and Nicholas Wright (the three brothers of the Kilvestone branch) first arrived in America, they resided at Lynn, then called Saugus, in Mass., but shortly after moved to Sandwich, Cape Cod, where they became active leaders, acquiring lands and holding offices there of military and civic trust.
In Spring, 1653, the three brothers joined a company of about a dozen families under the leadership of Rev. William Leverich for the purpose of forming a new settlement on Long Island. They journeyed by water in the sloop Desire of Barnstable, with John Dickenson as Master, ending the voyage at the new Long Island home-site named ‘Oyster Baye.’ Here they were soon deeded lands by Indian Asiapum (alias Mohensis), the consideration being various utensils plus wampum and peake (small change) of value totaling four pounds sterling. Peter Wright has been called the ‘Founder of Oyster Bay’ by historians. Both Samuel Mayo and William Leverich moved away soon after acquiring the land. All three Wrights functioned frequently in early colonial Oyster Bay, and Peter was a sergeant in the train-band (1652). Anthony was the only bachelor brother, who served as a blacksmith until his death in 1680.
Nicholas Wright (born 1609 in England, died November 1682 in Oyster Bay) became a public political figure in Oyster Bay. He and his wife Ann had nine children, Caleb, John, Edmund, Rebecca, Sarah, Deborah, Mary (Mercy), Martha and Tomar. In his will, he divided his extensive land holdings among his three sons Caleb, John and Edmund. Nicholas’ daughter Sarah married Josiah Latting. In 1688, son Edmund and Josiah, his brother-in-law, made purchases of land in Matinecock, after leaving Oyster Bay, from Indians. Later, this became the site of Lattingtown, extending north to Long Island Sound.
Nicholas’ son Edmund married his first cousin Sarah, daughter of Peter. Their son Edmund Wright (1670-1733) married Sarah Townsend in 1695 (she died in 1746). Of their children, our attention is drawn to their sons Nicholas and Edmund, bringing our history to the early 1700s.
Through the process of elimination in searching all Wright records, this is the only lineage that shows the continuation of the names Nicholas and Edmund/Edward. So, the assumption is obvious that this must be our family line to Nicholas Wright (born 1809). But, this leaves us with four generations missing, that we have been unable to account for in our genealogy search. This search continues through Nicholas’ birth records of 1809. We know his father was born in New York and his mother in Connecticut, and we also know he was a stone and brick mason living in Brownsville, Jefferson County, NY, in 1850.
Peter Wright – A Cousin of Interest
Peter and Alice Wright (the cousins who united the Kelvedon and Kilvestone lines with their marriage in 1637) also had a son Adam (1650-1698). His son also was named Adam Jr. (died 1748), who became father to Peter Wright, who left behind an interesting historical legacy from the 1700s.
Peter, along with his brother Thomas, in the spring of 1746, migrated to the Virginia frontier. Thomas settled on the Cowpasture River, and Peter settled on Jackson’s River, holding extensive lands at the mouth of Potts Creek, where Fort Young was built in 1756, and where the City of Covington, Alleghany County, VA, now stands. Brother Thomas died in 1755. Although western Long Island had been settled originally by the Dutch, the Treaty of Hartford in 1650 established the Connecticut River as the boundary between Dutch New York and English Connecticut, a boundary which was extended on southward from Oyster Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. At this early date, the great proportion of Long Island was English territory. Further, the Treaty of Westminster, in 1674, extinguished the Dutch sovereignty in America. So, when Thomas died in 1755, all of Long Island would have been classified as New England.
Peter became one of the leading pioneers of Virginia as a famous hunter, who resided near the present site of Covington. It is for him that Peter’s Mountain got its name. There is a large projecting rock on this mountain known as Peter’s Rock, and tradition tells us that while crossing the mountain one winter, he was overtaken by a snowstorm and took refuge beneath the crest of this rock. The depth of the snow compelled him to spend several days in his rude abode without a morsel of food. His intense hunger induced him to chew his moccasins and the nourishment obtained from them sustained him until a deer could be killed. It was a further matter of tradition that Peter had hidden a quantity of money near this rock, but this was not verified until some 200 years later when Mr. Jourdan Helmintaler, after diligent search, exhumed at the point designated a casket containing some valuable coins. Peter’s Rock is by the side of the road, a mile below Alleghany Station.
According to “History of Middle New River” (1905), David E. Johnston relates, “Peter’s Mountain was also named after Peter Wright, from when in 1776 as a backwoodsman, he explored and hunted along the valleys at its base. Later the City of Bluefield, West Virginia, is located in this valley, which is still called Wright’s Valley, from the same Peter Wright.”
The children of Peter and Jane (Hughart) later in their lives settled in Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Missouri. Daughter Jane married Capt. James Estill, for whom Estill County was named and about whom much has been written. The Boubon County (Kentucky) Wrights and their descendants are of both lineages, the male strain being Kilvestone, female strain is Kelvedon. Three of the daughters settled there.
The Wortman Lineage
Tracing the Wortman lineage from Hattie Wortman Wright proved quite fascinating, too. We were able to trace one line to the early 1200s, and we found lineage to England, Holland and Norway. The poem “William Wortman, Pioneer,” tells you the Wortman family story.
William Wortman was born March 30, 1779, near New Brunswick, New Jersey, and at an early age he and an only sister were left orphans. He came to the town of Hector, now Schuyler County, with one of the pioneers of that town and grew to marry Anna, daughter of Anthony Swarthout. After a few years, they moved to Wayne, and later in 1812, purchased a farm in what was afterwards Barrington, near the Bath road, and bounded south by the County line. There, they remained through life. He died in 1850 at the age of 71 and she in 1860, aged 77. Their children were Fanny, Amos, Charlotte, Mary A., Asa, Joel, Lavinia, Halsey, Sally, William, Andrew and David.
Son Amos married Catherine Herrick of Wayne, and lived in that town. Their children were Ogden, Elizabeth, William and Joel. Ogden alone became a resident of Yates County, marrying Jane Snyder of Milo, and resided in Barrington.
William Wortman (1829-1888) married Mary McGowan (1841-1895) on December 11, 1872. Their daughter, Harriett (Hattie) Belle Wortman married Edward William Wright and had seven children. They lost their twins, who were stillborn, but five children survived. This is the family who is the center of the genealogy website. For more information on William Wortman, read the poem written for the family reunion held in the 1920s.
Eyryk – Herrick
Catherine Herrick, wife of Amos Wortman and grandmother of Hattie Wright, was quite traceable through her father’s lineage all the way to Eyryk of England in the 1200s. He was also called “Eric the Forester.” Catherine’s parents were Nathan and Priscilla Herrick. Her mother, Priscilla, was born June 10, 1768, and died February 17, 1860. Her father, Nathan, was born January 3, 1762, and died February 15, 1840, buried in a grape vineyard with flat markers in North Urbana. We will now trace back fourteen more generations to Eyryk.
Nathan’s father was Capt. Daniel Herrick (born 1742), who was wed twice. Priscilla Marvin and Mary Gile were his wives. In following the paternal lineage, we find Capt. Daniel was the son of Stephen and Phebe Guile Herrick. Stephen was born in 1705 in Preston, CT, of Samuel Herrick and Mehetebel Woodward of Beverly, cT. They were married in 1698 and settled in Preston in 1702. Ephraim Herrick (1638-1693) wed Mary Cross of Salem, Mass. in 1661 and became Samuel’s father soon after.
The first immigrant of the family was Ephraim’s father, Henerie Herick (Hericke or Herrick, depending on the research source), who was born in 1604 in Beau Manor, Leicester County, England. He immigrated to Virginia and then to Salem, Mass. where he met and married Edith Laskin. Beau Manor Park, England, was the home of Henerie’s parents, Sir William and Lady Joan May Herricke. Sir William was a member of Parliament from 1601 to 1630, and died in either 1652 or 1653, at the age of 96!! His father, John Eyrick (or Heyrick) died young, in 1589, seven years before Sir William and Lady Joan were wed. Sir William’s grandfather, Thomas Eyrick, was the first one to settle in Leicester County, where he died in 1518. Robert and Agnes Eyricke of Houghton (circa 1450) were Thomas’ parents. Sir William had been named after his great, great-grandfather Sir William Eyryk, who attended Prince of Wales in Gascony in 1355. His parents were Robert and Joanna Eyryk; his grandfather was john Eyryk; and his great-grandfather was Henry Eyryk of Stretton, England. This brings us back to the 13th century in England, where the name Eyryk (that eventually was changed in the later 16th century to Herricke) came from Eric the Forester, father of Henry of Stretton. Eric, or Eyryk, was Tempelar to Henry III, and lived from 1216 to 1272. That was the end of the Eyryk-Herrick lineage tracings.
Swarthout – Swartwout
Anna Swarthout, who married William Wortman, Pioneer, was born January 4, 1781, the daughter of Anthony Swarthout Jr. (1759-1842) and Elizabeth Lockwood (1758-1845). Anthony was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. Tracing back on the Swarthout family line to the early 1600s proved interesting. Anna’s grandparents Anthony and Mary Armstrong Swarthout lived in Goshen, NY, moving to Ovid in Montgomery County in 1788. Tracking back further through baptismal and census records, we found that the names and spelling began to change.
Antoni Swartwout, Anthony’s father, was baptized October 22, 1699, in Kingston, Ulster County, NY. His parents, Antoni Swartwout (again) baptized May 11, 1664 in Wiltwijck, and Jannetje Coobes, born in Rensselaerwijck (Holland) were married in 1693. This particular Antoni was the son of Roeloff Swartwout (baptized June 1, 1634 in Amsterdam, Holland, and died in May 1715) and Eva Bradt de Hoages, widow of Antoine de Hoages, and daughter of Albert Andriesz and Annetje Barents Bradt from Southeastern Norway.