WRIGHT. The family of this name is an early Boston family, which through marriage is allied with some of the historic families of New England, among them those of Adams, Winslow and Wentworth. We give herewith an outline of the earlier generations, beginning with the first ancestor in this country.
(I) Richard Wright, born about 1607, died in Plymouth, Mass., June 9, 1691. In 1644 he married Hester Cook, and they had children:
- Esther and
(II) Adam Wright, born about 1644, died Sept. 20, 1724. He was twice married, having by his first wife, Sarah (Soule), two children, John and Isaac, and by his second wife, Mehitable (Barrows), four children,
- James and
(III) Samuel Wright, born about 1700, died Jan. 5, 1773. He was of Plympton. By his wife, Anna (Tillson), born about 1704, died Nov. 16, 1792, he had children as follows:
- Ruth, born Aug. 12, 1723;
- Ruth (2), March 1, 1725;
- Sarah, June 3, 1726 (married a Hall);
- Samuel, Oct. 6, 1728;
- Edmund, Oct. 28, 1730;
- Jacob, April 17, 1733;
- Lydia, Sept. 22, 1736.
(IV) Jacob Wright, of Plympton, born April 17, 1733, son of Samuel and Anna (Tillson) Wright, died March 30, 1818. He married Deborah Torrey, of Weymouth, born Sept. 18, 1731, died Dec. 31, 1820. Children:
- Ann, born Jan. 1, 1753;
- Zadoc, April 17, 1754 (served in the Revolutionary war);
- Joseph, Oct. 31, 1756;
- Deborah, April 14, 1761;
- Edmund, July 26, 1763;
- Jabez, July 13, 1765;
- Silas, March 7, 1773 (died in Boston).
(V) Edmund Wright, of Boston, born July 26, 1763, died in Boston, Dec. 10, 1837. He was married there April 2, 1789, to Mary Pratt (widow of Joseph Pratt), born April 11, 1756, died Oct. 1, 1845, and they had the following named children:
- Margaret (Peggy) , born March 23, 1791, married Thomas Wiley in 1810, and died in June, 1882;
- Mary, born Dec. 15, 1792, married Winslow Wright in 1821, and died Dec. 29, 1830;
- Edmund, born Oct. 16, 1794, is mentioned below;
- Catharine Landor, born Jan. 7, 1797, married Lewis G. Pray in January, 1823, and died Feb. 12, 1887;
- Thomas, born June 30, 1801, died Aug. 1, 1801.
(VI) Edmund Wright (2), of Boston, son of Edmund, born Oct. 16, 1794, in Boston, married (first) Angeline Standish, of New Bedford, Who died in 1839. There were no children by this union. On Oct. 1, 1840, he was married (second) in Boston to Sarah Augusta, born Dec. 25, 1808, in Boston, daughter of Joab (2) and Kezia (Wentworth) Hunt, and granddaughter of Joab and Sarah (Adams) Hunt, of Boston, the latter a daughter of Thomas and Sarah Adams. Of her father, Joab Hunt (2), a daughter, the late Miss Harriot K. Hunt, M. D., of Boston, a distinguished physician and gifted woman, wrote: “My father was entirely a ‘North-Ender.’ His family always lived, as did his maternal grandparents, in Charter street. A bright, glad, witty man – without a shade of vulgarity – perfectly the master of all those nice little arts and manners which give zest to conversation, enlivening it – with a true, constant and genial benevolence in thought, word and deed – his face always radiant with a pleasure that had its source in his heart – ‘a contented mind is a continual feast’ ” Mr. Hunt was by trade and occupation for many years a ship joiner, but later he went into the business of Eastern Navigation. He died instantly, on the evening of Nov. 15, 1827, at the rooms of the St. Andrew’s Lodge of Freemasons, of Boston. Of Mr. Hunt one of his Masonic brethren said: “Thus died Joab Hunt, one of the oldest members of St. Andrew’s Lodge, a man honored and respected in society, a just and upright Mason and one of the noblest works of God’s creation, an honest man; one who was beloved by all the members of the lodge, who will long lament his loss. He was at all times vigilant, prompt and judicious in guarding the honor and promoting the true interests of the lodge; he was a true friend, a good citizen; blest with a cheerful disposition, he diffused happiness wherever he went; he was generous in his feelings, and always ready to bear his full share in alleviating the troubles of the unfortunate; he was most truly an ornament to our fraternity.” Dr. Hunt, quoted above, concerning her mother said: “My mother was a pet child, the youngest of her family. Before she was ten years old her mother died. But the love that had been breathed on her childhood for those ten years remained forever. Its memory was the glad light that cheered and guided her in the performance of her duties in after life I remember often hearing in childhood of my mother’s usefulness, of her great capacity for doing good to others. It was all reflected back upon her in respect and blessing” Mrs. Hunt died April 21, 1847.
She was a direct descendant on her father’s side of Elder William Wentworth, ‘the immigrant who came to Boston as early as 1639, and after several removals finally settled and died in Dover, N. H.; from whom her descent is through John, Edward and Edward Wentworth (2); while on her mother’s, side she descended from Kenelm Winslow, a native of Droitwitch, Worcestershire, England, who came to Plymouth, New England, and later settled as an original proprietor in Freetown, from whom her lineage is through Kenelm (2), Josiah, Josiah (2) and Susannah Winslow.
Edmund Wright (2) died April 24, 1874, in Boston, Mass., aged seventy-nine years. “The end of that man is peace.” In this connection, again quoting from Dr. Hunt: “In October, 1840, my sister was married to Mr. Edmund Wright, the son of the revered man of that name who came forward after my father’s death and became my mother’s bondsman; he knew nothing of our business at that time, he only knew that we were honest and desired nothing but justice. He trusted us. These words are full of import. Trust arouses hope to action, stimulates the mind, and induces trust in God. She did not leave her home; her mother and sister were still as dear to her as ever; we were not displaced in her heart; it had widened to receive another guest. We had gained a son and brother. Her love nature enlarged and beautified all her relations. Her companion was one fitted to appreciate these relations. His own unselfish devotion to his mother and family rendered my sister’s position clear to him… ” Edmund Wright (2) published at Boston The Daily Patriot. His wife Sarah Augusta (Hunt) Wright died in Boston July 8, 1867. Their children were:
- Harriot Augusta, born Jan. 9, 1843, in Boston, died there Oct. 10, 1845.
- Edmund Wentworth, born April 23, 1844, in Boston, was graduated at Harvard College in 1866, later lived in Duxbury, Mass., where he was principal of the academy, and is now living at Old Orchard, Maine. He married at Providence, R. I., Sept. 5, 1870, Eliza Jane Davis, and in 1881 married (second) Mary E. Spencer, of Sterling. They have had three children, born as follows:
- Eleanor May, Jan. 12, 1886;
- Wentworth Spencer, Jan. 19, 1889;
- Lawrence Hunt, March, 1895.
- Theodore Francis, born Aug. 3, 1845, is mentioned below.
- Augustus Hunt, born Dec. 23, 1846, is mentioned below.
- Rev. Horace Winslow was born June 21, 1848.
- Miss Mary Angeline, born Feb. 11, 1850, in Dorchester, Mass., is a resident of Boston.
(VII) Theodore Francis Wright was one of the most notable leaders of the New Jerusalem Church of his generation. Born Aug. 3, 1845, in Dorchester, Mass., he lived there until his seventeenth year, meantime attending the public schools. His religious training began early. Coming of a family of thinkers, he was imbued from childhood with the sense of personal responsibility which seemed to be the guiding factor in his busy and useful life. His grandparents on both sides had adopted the teachings of the Universalist faith, and his father was an earnest and regular attendant at the Unitarian Church in Dorchester, where Theodore was a member of the Sunday school and also attended church. Under his mother’s guidance he began the reading of the Bible when a mere child, and, living in a home where every influence for the uplift of mankind received the most sincere support, and in a day when many of the most vital questions of the present were beginning to attract the attention of men and women of intellect and high purpose, with a heart and mind open to such impressions and a disposition to labor for the realization of his ideals, his environment was most favorable for the development that resulted in a life of the utmost consecration and usefulness. In his youth he became interested in the temperance question, and during his fifteenth and sixteenth years he attended lectures at the Mechanics’ Institute, in Roxbury, by such men as Phillips, Curtis, Beecher, Chapin, Higginson, Schurz, Whipple, Sumner, Emerson – leaders of thought well calculated to influence one of his nature. The last two years of his college preparatory work were spent at the private school of Mr. W. H. Brooks, in Boston. The family moved to Boston in April, 1862, and in July he entered Harvard, beginning his studies there Aug. 29th, a member of the class of 1866. He continued his studies faithfully, but the war spirit called him to the service of his country, and he prepared himself to enter the army with the same fore-thought which characterized everything he undertook, so that on April 4, 1864, he received a certificate of rank as first lieutenant of infantry, and on June 22d was appointed to the 108th Regiment, U. S. Colored Infantry, with orders to report at Louisville, Ky. He served until July 23, 1865, and after a six weeks’ vacation returned to his studies, graduating with his class in spite of the interruption. Meantime he had become interested in the doctrines of Swedenborg, reading and studying faithfully during his absence at the front, and immediately upon graduation from college presented himself as a member of the entering class of the Theological School then opening at Waltham. The term was a summer one of two months, and in October he became a member of the Boston Society. From this time on his record is one of struggle for the attainment of high ideals, and practical work of such value as to seem almost too great for the accomplishment of one man. And though he died at a comparatively-early age, in his sixty-third year, his broad sympathies and ceaseless activity led him into fields of usefulness where he himself, with his modest conception of his own powers, would hardly have dared to venture except at the call of duty. In 1867 began his connection with The Magazine of the New Church, which ultimately, mainly as the result of his influence, developed into The New Church Review, and with which he was identified to the close of his life; from 1893 until his death he was the editor in chief.
From a long and successful pastorate in Bridgewater he was called to take a chair in the Theological School, and in 1889 was called to take charge as resident professor of the school then opened at Cambridge and to become pastor of the Society just beginning there. He was at Cambridge the remainder of his life, during his early years not only attending to his pastoral duties but also doing the work for his Ph. D. degree, conferred upon him in 1891. The history of his life from this time on is the history of the progress of the ‘church itself. He not only kept pace with that progress, but was a leader in much of what constitutes the best development of the New Church. As writer, lecturer, preacher, teacher, secretary of the Association for the long period of forty years continuously, dean of the Theological School at Cambridge, honorary general secretary and lecturer of the Palestine Exploration Fund of England to represent the Society in America, member of the missionary board of the Society, representative at important conventions of the denomination here and abroad, he had a place in the church which few men would have undertaken to fill. Yet with all this, he found time to be a useful citizen in general, and his work as a temperance advocate, as president of the East End Christian Union, as vice-president of the Associated Charities, in the Young Women’s Christian Association, and in other relations, was a distinct factor in the successful promotion of all their efforts. While in Bridgewater he had originated the movement which resulted in the foundation of the public library and acted as chairman of the building committee for the Memorial Hall, in which it was housed. And so wherever he was located, he was a leader in thought and action who set in motion activities which still bear the impress of his influence. All his life, too, he was interested in the cultivation of the soil, and from boyhood to the end of his days had his garden. While in Bridgewater he became a member of the Plymouth County Agricultural Society, and he always maintained his interest in its objects and exhibitions. In his boyhood and young manhood he was an ardent lover of baseball and outdoor sports generally, and so on through his life he continued to be wholesome and human. His religion was a very real thing to the many who knew him and. were helped by him.
Dr. Wright traveled considerably, and he died while abroad, on the Mediterranean, Nov. 13, 1907. He was twice married, the first time in Boston April 6, 1868, to Harriet Susanna Chapman, born Aug. 15, 1844, in Cambridge, Mass., daughter of Edmund Augustus and Harriet (Brown) Chapman, of Cambridge. She died Sept. 15, 1877, and he married (second) Dec. 4, 1879, Pamelia Keith, of Bridgewater, Mass., daughter of Edwin and Saba (Hooper) Keith, who is now living at No. 42 Quincy street, Cambridge. There were no children of either marriage.
(VII) Augustus Hunt Wright, son of Edmund (2) and Sarah A. (Hunt) Wright, was born Dec. 23, 1846, in Boston, Mass. After attending the public schools of Dorchester, he took a special course at the Agricultural College at Amherst, Mass. On came the Civil war with its call to arms, with its demand for the youth of the land, and ere it had progressed far, though but a boy of sixteen, young Wright laid aside his books for the tented field, casting his lot in the fall of 1863, as an enlisted man, with the 2d Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry. Suffice it to say that he gave two years of his boyhood to the service of his country, serving later as a first lieutenant in the 24th U. S. Colored Troops.
At the end of the war, returning to his home with an honorable war record, he was appointed an inspector in the United States Internal Revenue service stationed at Boston, a government relation he sustained for three years. For the succeeding three years he was in the employ of Mr. George Curtis in the capacity of superintendent of his lumber yard in Boston. His next experience was as a farmer in West Roxbury, Mass., an occupation he followed until the year 1879. In that year he cast his lot for better or worse with the people of Abington, Mass., with whom he ever afterward remained, and the reading between the lines of this sketch is indicative of his valuable citizenship to this community, and the good account he gave of himself.
During his residence in Abington Mr. Wright served some ten or more years as trustee of the Abington Savings Bank, twenty and more years as chief engineer of the Abington fire department, was member of the board of selectmen, overseer of the poor and assessor, for ten years or more was chairman of the road commissioners, and for about the same length of time was superintendent of the waterworks. It goes without saying that Lieutenant Wright was an active and prominent member of the Grand Army of the Republic, identified for years with the local post – McPherson, No. 73 – in Abington.
On Oct. 21, 1868, Mr. Wright was married to Julia Porter Billings, of Roxbury, born Feb. 10, 1849, daughter of George and Lucy (Parker) Billings, of West Roxbury; she died Nov. 22, 1869, in West Roxbury. He married (second) Oct. 1, 1874, Jane Billings, of West Roxbury, and one child, a son, Edmund, was born to them. Mr. Wright died at his home in Abington, Mass., Dec. 4, 1905, aged fifty-eight years, eleven months, eleven days. He was buried in Mount Vernon cemetery. His widow continues to make her home at Abington, where she has many interests, her sympathetic disposition and earnest nature leading her into active church work and various lines of helpful and benevolent effort. She is a charter member of the local Woman’s Relief Corps, a member of the King’s Daughters and of the W. C. T. U., in which latter she takes special interest, being a strong advocate of temperance. Mrs. Wright is a descendant of old New England ancestry, being a daughter of Joseph H. and Sarah (Keith) Billings, and granddaughter of William and Sarah (Polly) Keith, of Boston.
(VIII) Edmund Wright, only child of Augustus Hunt and Jane (Billings) Wright, was born Aug. 1, 1877, in West Roxbury, Mass., and received the greater part of his education in the public and high schools of Aldington, whither his parents removed while he was an infant. Later he attended a commercial college in Boston, after which he became interested in the leather business, forming a partnership with Wilson E. Blake, under the firm name of Blake, Wright & Co., leather dealers, doing business in Boston. Mr. Wright makes his home, however, in Abington. He was married there, June 16, 1903, to Grace Huntington Nash, of that place, daughter of Joshua H. Nash and granddaughter of Joshua L. Nash, of Abington. They have had two children:
- Helen Billings, born April 11, 1905, and
- Alice Huntington, born Dec. 23, 1907.
(VII) Rev. Horace Winslow Wright, youngest son of Edmund Wright (2), was born June 21, 1848, in Dorchester, Mass., and received his early education in the public schools of that place and of Boston, Mass., and in a private preparatory school. Later he entered Harvard College, where in 1865 he received the degree of A. B., and in 1872 the degree of A. M. After leaving college he took up the study of theology at the New Church Theological School, at Waltbam, in 1870, and after a three years’ course graduated in 1873. He was ordained to the ministry of the Church of the New Jerusalem and went to Abington where he preached for three years, continuing to make his home there a number of years longer, during which time he took an active part in establishing a public library. He was also a member of the school committee, from 1879 to 1882. In 1891 he removed to Boston, where he has made his home ever since and has given much time to study, spending his summers in company with his sister at Jefferson, N. H., where they have had a cottage for the past thirty years. Mr. Wright is a deep student of nature and has taken special interest in bird life, which he has been studying for years, principally on the Commons in Boston. In 1909, he published a book on bird life as seen on the Commons and the migration of birds, this work being the result of fifteen years’ study.