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Joshua WRIGHT Sr.

Orange Beads

Joshua Wright Sr. was one of three brothers who emigrated from England to West New Jersey, Joshua coming in 1679. He emigrated from Ashford-in-the-Water, Bakewell parish, Derbyshire, England with wife Elizabeth Empson and three children, Elizabeth, Joshua Jr., and Robert. Joshua's brother, Thomas Wright, apparently came over sooner on the "Flie Boat Martha" arriving "at the end of summer 1677" with 114 passengers. Thomas wrote home to his wife 28 October 1677, having just arrived. Another brother, Samuel Wright, came over also in 1679, as one of his daughters was born at sea on 25 October 1679. (Mt. Holly Monthly Meeting Records.)

Originally, Joshua Wright Sr. was not of the Quaker faith. He was baptized 4 October 1633 in England, born Howden, East Riding of Yorkshire, England, the son of Robert and Alice (Lawtie) Wright. Robert Wright was a butcher, who made his will 27 March 1650 (proved 6 May 1668, but Robert was buried 27 July 1651), in which will he mentions his son "Josua Wright my said second sonne whome I make Executor (along with his mother Alice, executrix) of this my last will and Testament."

About ten years before he came to America, Joshua married Elizabeth Empson, the daughter of William Empson of "gowle Field House", Gole, East Riding of Yorkshire, England. He married her 4 month (June) 10. 1669 and apparently married contrary to Quaker discipline. According to mutilated Friends records 7 mo. 2. 1669 at South Cliffe, East Riding of Yorkshire: "Joshua Wright of Howden having been convinced of... frequented friends meetings: denied the worlds... went from it, paid tithes, forsooke (by little and... he being admonished and warned faithfully by friends... subtiltie) to cover himself, and afterwards proceeded...world, and to be spurr'd and marryed by a drunken p..." Joshua Wright of Howden was disowned 7 mo. 2. 1669 by Cave MM for marrying contrary to Discipline 4 mo. 10. 1669 to Elizabeth Empson. [Cave MM, East Riding of Yorkshire, records]

Before coming to America, Joshua Wright acquired in England (memorandum of deed 16 July 1677) one-sixth of a share of the Province of West Jersey from Thomas Hutchinson of Beverly, Thomas Peirson of Bonwick, Joseph Helmsley of Great Kelke, George Hutchinson of Sheffeld, all of Yorkshire, and Mahlon Stacy of Dorehouse, Derbyshire. Once in America, Joshua settled near the Falls of the Delaware (now Trenton, NJ) on a tract of 400 acres in Nottingham Township, Burlington County. He was one of the five original owners of the Trenton area, the other co-owners being Mahlon Stacy, William Emley, John and Thomas Lambert. He was a member of the West New Jersey General Assembly 1683-1685 and was also one of the signers of the "Concessions and Agreements of Proprietors, Freeholders and Inhabitants of Province of West New Jersey", a portion of which is quoted partially here.

"We do consent and agree, as the best present expedient, that such persons as shall from time to time be deputed, nominated and appointed Commissioners by the present Proprietors.... shall be Commissioners for the time being and shall have power to order and manage the estate and affairs of the said Province of West New Jersey.

And the said Commissioners for the time being are to take care of... dividing all the lands of the said Province as be already taken up, or by themselves shall be taken up and contracted for with the natives... and to divide said lands into 100 parts, to be marked in the register for laying out to be planted and settled upon. And after same is so divided and marked, the said Commissioners are to grant unto Thomas Hutchinson of Beverly, Thomas Pearson of Bonwick, Joseph Helmsley of Great Kelk, George Hutchinson of Sheffeld, and Mahlon Stacy of Hansworth, all of County of York ... for themselves and friends who are a considerable number of people and may speedily promote the planting of said Province, that they may speedily promote the planting of said Province, that they may have free liberty to make choice of any one of the said Tenth Parts of Shares which be first divided and set out,......... that they may plant upon the same as they see meet.......... And it is further expressly agreed to that whereas there is a Contract of Agreement granted by William Penn, Garven Lawry and Nicholas Lucas unto Thomas Hutchinson, Thomas Pearson, Joseph Helmsley, George Hutchinson and Mahlon Stacy, dated March 2nd 1676 wherein they grant unto said persons certain Priviledges for a Town to be built, whereby they have liberty to choose their own magistrates and officers;.........Which said Contract or Agreement is to be held firm and good... and we do by these our Concessions confirm the same..... Etc. to Page 267:

In Testimony and Witness of our consent to and affirmation of these present Laws, Concessions and Agreements, we, the Proprietors, Freeholders and Inhabitants of said Province of West Jersey whose names are underwritten have to the same voluntarily and freely set our hands, March 3rd, 1676." (Note: William Penn was one of the signers. Also, Mahlon Stacy was actually from Derbyshire.) [From New Jersey State Archives, Vol. I, pp. 241 to 267]

Joshua Wright and Elizabeth Empson supposedly had seven children, one daughter and six sons. However, in an unrecorded will found in Trenton, New Jersey, on file in the Secretary of State's Office,Volume 4, another child is mentioned which may be of interest. - page 231 of unrecorded wills; (Unrecorded wills are now found in the New Jersey State Archives. In the 1940s, the following unrecorded will was transcribed by Laura E. Rogers (1899-1973), my aunt.)

" In the name of God, Amen, the 25th day of the first month 1690, I Joshua Wright of New Jersey near the falls of the Delaware River having often in my mind the uncertainty of our Days here, though at present being in good health and memory - praised be God - do make this my last will and testament.

I give to Matthew Grange and Catteron his sister that farm or plantation whereon they now live during the natural life of them or either of them and after to Richard Wright my son to him and his heirs forever.

I give to Mary, late widow of my brother Samuel Wright, that farm or plantation whereon she now dwells during her life and to Samuel Wright her son to him and his heirs forever.

I give to Peter Fretwell, my son-in-law, and Elizabeth his wife, my only daughter, our lot in the town of Burlington, belonging to the first part-------- to them and their heirs forever.

I give to Robert Wright my son - 100 acres of land and 30 pounds to him and his heirs forever.

I give to Thomas Wright my son - 350 acres of land and 30 pounds to him and his heirs forever.

I give to Joseph Wright my son 350 acres of land and 30 pounds to him and his heirs forever.

I give to Samuel Wright my son 350 acres of land and 30 pounds to him and his heirs forever.

I give to Elizabeth my wife one half of the farm or plantation whereon I now live during her natural life and after to my son Joshua with all the rest of my lands and herby give to him and his heirs forever.

And the rest of my goods to Elizabeth my wife and Joshua my son, whom I make executors of this my last will and testament.

    Joshua Wright LS
    Elizabeth Wright (her mark)
    Joshua Wright LS
    T. Wright

Sealed and delivered in the Presence of us:

    Thos. Revell
    Mahlon Stacy
    John Hollinshed
    Wm. Emley

NOTE: Of probable interest is the fact that a Richard Wright died intestate, and inventory was made of his estate on 30 March 1691. He was of Cooper's Creek, Gloucester County, New Jersey. Letters of administration were granted to his son, John, on 13 April 1691. This puts Richard's death date after the writing of Joshua Wright, Sr.'s will, but before it was proved. Given the fact that Joshua Wright Sr. was born in 1633 and didn't marry Elizabeth Empson until 1669, that would make Joshua 36 years old when he married, perhaps a bit old for a first marriage.   In order for him to have had a son who died in 1691, and who also had a son of age to take care of legal details pertaining to his will when he died circa 1691, Joshua Wright Sr. would have to have had a first wife, or else a child out of wedlock. Or else this is another Richard WRIGHT. Also, please note the Some New Thoughts section below in regards to the will of Joshua Wright Sr.

And now follows an abstract of the will of Joshua Wright, not mentioning any son Richard, as written in the Calendar of New Jersey Wills series.  What happened to son Richard?  (From Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey, Volume XXIII, Calendar of New Jersey Wills, Vol. I, 1670-1730 by William Nelson)

"Written March 25, 1690, executed Oct. 7, 1695. Wright, Joshua, of Nottingham, near the Falls of Daliway River (The Falls of the Delaware River, now Trenton, NJ) will of. Wife Elizabeth. Sons- Joshua, Robert, Thomas, Joseph, Samuel, dau. Elizabeth, wife of Peter Frettwell; Mary, widow of brother Samuel Wright, who has son Samuel. Real and personal estate. Executors - the wife and son Joshua. Proved May 11, 1696.

1695-6 Jan. 30. Inventory of the estate (L171, all personal); made by T. Wright, Peter Frettwell and Wm. Emley.

1696 May 11. Bond of the executors, named in the will. Thomas Wright and William Emley fellow bondsmen.

1696 May 11. Will proved and administration granted to Elizabeth and Joshua Wright. Burlington Records, pg. 27."

One notes that the same people are mentioned in this will except for Matthew Grange and "Catteron" his sister, and no son Richard is mentioned.

There is a will abstract From Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey, Volume XXX, Calendar of New Jersey Wills, Vol. II, 1730-1750, by William Nelson and A. Van Hooren Honeyman, for the following Catherine GRANGE.

"1715, June 17. Grange, Catherine, of Nottingham, Burlington Co., spinster; will of. Elizabeth, dau of Samuel Wright of Nottingham, the latter executor and residuary legatee. Benjamin Davis, servant of Samuel Wright. Wm. Emley, ofNottingham, yeoman, 5 pounds in trust for Women's Meeting of Chesterfield. Witnesses- Caleb Wheatley, Sarah Readford, William Emley. Proved Jan. 19, 1737. Lib. 4, p. 125."

The question remains. Who is Catherine and her brother, Matthew, and how do they relate to the family of Joshua Wright, Sr.?

From a record written by Joshua Wright Jr. we learn the following:

"Joshua Wright of Rouldon[sic] married Elizabeth, daughter of William Empson, "of gould Field house, the 10th day of ye 4th mo. 1669. Three children were born in England - Elizabeth, Joshua, and Robert. Joshua and his family took ship at Hull ye 24 day of ye 6 mo. and came to ye fall of delaware river about ye 20 day of ye 10 mo. 1679. Three more chldren were born to them in New Jersey - Thomas, John and Samuel. Joshua my father died ye 10th of ye 8 mo. 1695 and Elizabeth my mother died 12th day of 1 mo. 1705/06."

If the names of children given in the above record are compared with the names of his children as written in the unrecorded will of Joshua Wright Sr., it will be noted that Joshua Jr. does not mention his brothers Richard or Joseph. Also, no son, John, is mentioned in the will of Joshua WRIGHT, Sr. Were there personal reasons for these omissions, or is the document of Joshua Wright, Jr. inaccurate and unauthentic?

Some New Thoughts

Since the above was written, I have had opportunity to re-check the information above and have made the following observations.

At the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton, New Jersey, the only will of Joshua Wright Sr. is his unrecorded will located on Film #53, Probate, Unrecorded NJ Wills for Burlington County, New Jersey, Volume 4, Pgs. 229, 232-233. This unrecorded will does indeed mention a son Richard and "Matthew Grange and Catteron his sister". In addition, this "unrecorded" will includes an inventory dated 30 January 1695/96 and the bond of the Executors named in the will, dated 11 May 1696. The appraisers of the Inventory are T. Wright, Peter Frettwell and William Emley.

On page 27 of Burlington County records, NJ Colonial Deeds Film #129, also at the New Jersey State Archives, is found the fact that the will was proved on 11 May 1696 and administration granted to Elizabeth Wright and Joshua Wright.

In light of the above, I do not know where researchers are obtaining the abstract for Joshua Wright's will that does not include son Richard. The name "Richard" is practically obliterated or smeared on the copy I have, but it is nonetheless readable and there. There is also another page included with this docket that is unreadable, but looks like a page on which administration is granted. Three signatures can be discerned - Mahlon Stacy, John Hollingshead and Thomas Revell, the same three men who were witnesses to the will of Joshua Wright Sr.

If anyone can shed any additonal light on the above information, it would be greatly appreciated.   Any clues would be most appreciated and I can be reached at DRistenbatt@dejazzd.com.

The following children of Joshua Wright Sr. and Elizabeth EMPSON will be recorded as found in the Unrecorded Wills. Please be aware, though, that Richard may not be a son of Elizabeth's, but rather of a different wife or woman. One cannot be certain that the Richard of Coopers Creek belongs to Joshua Wright Sr.

Children of Joshua Wright and Elizabeth Empson:

Elizabeth WRIGHT, born England 9 April 1670, married Peter FRETTWELL, died 17 January 1733 Burlington, NJ. Two known children: John and Elizabeth.

Joshua WRIGHT, born England 3 mo. (May) 16. 1672, will 8 mo. (October) 7. 1740 of New Hanover Twp., Burlington Co., NJ. Probate 31 March 1741. Married 4 mo. (June) 7. 1705 [Chesterfield MM records] to Rebecca Stacy, daughter of Mahlon and Rebecca (Ely) Stacy

Richard WRIGHT, position of this son not certain. If this is the Richard as found in the New Jersey Calendar of Wills series, then he died at Coopers Creek, Gloucester County, NJ before 30 March 1691, (Date of Inventory) but would probably not be a son of Elizabeth's. In fact, in light of the unrecorded will above, it seems that this son, Richard is set apart from the other children, thus making one wonder if this son did indeed belong to another woman. And also, one wonders if Catherine or Matthew Grange were connected in any way with this son.  One known son of the Richard of Coopers Creek is John.

Robert WRIGHT, born 1 August 1678 England (Mt. Holly Meeting Record), Will 27 June 1742, probate 15 July 1742, Chesterfield Twp, Burlington County; married 1st Elizabeth HYERTON 1711, m. 2nd Jane(----) WARE 1732; Four known children by Jane: Robert, Joshua, James and Jane.

Thomas WRIGHT, born 2 September 1681 Chesterfield Twp., Burlington Co., NJ; died before 12 April 1769 (inventory) New Hanover Twp., Burlington Co., NJ; married Elizabeth PARKER 1706; Eleven known children: Elizabeth (died young), Sarah, Jacob, Amos, Thomas, Lydia, Margaret, Deborah, Elizabeth, Ezekial, Jemima.

John WRIGHT, born 8 October 1783 Chesterfield Twp., Burlington Co., NJ; died before 5 January 1733 (Inventory) Wrightstown, Burlington Co., NJ; Not mentioned in father's will. Married Abigail CRISPIN circa 1718 Springfield Twp., Burlington Co., NJ. Five known children: Samuel, John, Joseph, Mary, and Rebecca.

Joseph WRIGHT, born circa 1685 Chesterfield Twp., Burlington Co., NJ; died same place before 8 April 1715 (Inventory); married Mary SCHOLEY 1710. Two known children: Sarah and Mary.

Samuel WRIGHT, born 12 February 1689 Chesterfield Twp., Burlington Co., NJ; died before 28 December 1762 New Hanover Twp., Burlington Co., NJ; married 1st Sarah WRIGHT (daughter of Samuel Wright and Mary Starkey); One known child by Sarah: Empson Wright. Married 2nd Rebecca KIRBY. Three known children by Rebecca: Mary, Rachel, and Phoebe.

DIRECT and RELATED lines that connect with my WRIGHT line: Allen, Baker,Budd, Butterfield, Carter, Gregory, Howland, Lamb, Robbins, Stacy, Stockton, and Thorn

More information may be found about the Wright family in Larry C. Wright's book, WRIGHT'S 400 Years-Plus, 13 Generation Family, published by Wright, Inc., 1984, Amarillo, Texas.

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