Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Martin Wright (1594–1664)

Mayor of Oxford 1635/6 and 1655/6

Martin Wright was baptised at St Martin's Church on 24 November 1594. He was the son of the Oxford goldsmith William Wright, who became Mayor in 1614, and his first wife Joan Winter. Martin's mother appears to have died soon after his birth, as she was buried at St Martin’s Church on 14 October 1594.

Martin Wright was apprenticed to his father in about 1607, and was admitted free on 12 July 1616, paying 4s. 6d. He immediately undertook work for Christ Church in place of his father.

In about 1618 Martin Wright married Katherine Midhope (or Mydhap or Medhop) of Midhope Hall in Yorkshire (whose sister married the son of another Oxford Mayor, Richard Hannes). They had the following children:

  • William Wright (baptised on 29 June 1619 at St Martin’s Church)
  • Katherin Wright (baptised on 4 February 1620/1 at St Martin’s Church)
  • Jane Wright (baptised on 21 April 1623 at St Martin’s Church)
  • Elizabeth Wright (baptised on 12 March 1624/5 at St Martin’s Church)
  • Martin Wright (baptised on 21 January 1626/7 at St Martin’s Church, buried there on 4 April 1627)
  • Mary Wright (baptised on 23 March 1627/8 at St Martin’s Church)
  • Ann Wright (baptised on 14 April 1631 at St Martin’s Church)
  • Henry Wright (baptised on 6 January 1632/3 at St Martin’s Church, buried there on 8 November 1633)
  • Sarah Wright (baptised on 5 February 1636/7 at St Martin’s Church).

In 1625 Wright produced “twoo faier peeces of plate” for the Mayor to bestow upon King Charles I and his Queen when they came to Oxford, but the King feared the plague and stayed at Christ Church, refusing to see the Mayor. The city paid him £5 to hold on to them in case they were needed later.

Wright took on apprentices in c. 1625

In 1626 Wright came on to the council and was given a Bailiff’s place. In 1627 he was elected Senior Bailiff, and in January 1634 one of the Assistants. In September 1635 he was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1635/6), nominating Thomas Pawling as his Chamberlain. Thomas Crosfield records in his diary how on 28 August 1636 Wright went out to meet King Charles I at Woodstock, together with the Aldermen and bailiffs, riding behind a trumpeter and ahead of representatives of the University. Wright presented the King with “a Sylver Bowle, richly adorned”.

In August 1640 Wright was elected an Alderman, swearing three oaths: “the oathe of Aldermanshippe, the oathe of Supremacie, and the oath of Allegiance”.

His wife Katherine Wright died on 1 August 1643 and was buried at St Martin’s on 3 August: she wass described in the burial register as an “Alderwoman”.

In 1644 Martin Wright, along with two other members of the Council, were imprisoned by Charles I’s government, but were released in December.

At the time of the 1648 Subsidy Alderman Wright paid five shillings in All Saints ward (probably at 120 High Street).

In August 1652 Wright, along with six other members, was fined 4d. for coming the Council in his cloak.

In September 1655 Martin Wright was elected Mayor a second time (for 1655/6), nominating John Bowell as his Child and Nicholas Oram as Senior Chamberlain. His son William Wright took over as Mayor the following year.

† Alderman Martin Wright died on 14 May 1664 at the age of 70. Having no arms of his own, he was buried with those of his wife (ermine a lion rampant blue crowned or) on 16 May in the chancel of St Martin’s Church. A stone with four inscriptions to the Wright family, including the following, used to lie within the altar rails of St Martin’s, but was transferred to All Saints:

Here enterred resteth the body of ye worthy citizen Martin Wright, Alderman and twice mayor of this citie of Oxford. He departed this life May 14 ano Domi. 1664, being of the age of 70 years. He was buried in or by the grave of Katherine Mydh[op], his sometime wife, who died the 1 Augt 1643.

Alderman Martin Wright was still listed as paying tax on eight windows in All Saints parish (120 High Street) in 1665.

In 1896 St Martin's Church was demolished (apart from its tower), and all bones uncovered were transferred to an unknown communal grave in Holywell Cemetery.

Anthony Wood gives the following information on Martin Wright’s daughters who survived to adulthood:

  • Katherine Wright (b. 1620) married Richard Seaman of Painswick, Gloucestershire and died on 28 April 1680. They had only one surviving daughter, Katherine, who married John West of Hampton Poyle but who died when she was only 21 on 1 January 1667.
  • Jane Wright (b. 1623) became the second wife of George Lowe of Calne, Wiltshire, according to Wood (I: 198). She died on 4 September 1655 at her husband’s house in Pennyfarthing (now Pembroke) Street, and was buried at St Martin’s Church. Her only son, Wright Lowe, died in 1672 at the age of 21 when he was a student at the Inner Temple.
  • Elizabeth Wright (b. 1624/5) married Sir Richard Croke (d. 15 September 1683): he was the Recorder of Oxford and the son of the famous Unton Croke of Marston. Three of their sons were buried in St Martin’s: Unton Croke (1 August 1655); Richard Croke (19 August 1655), and a second Richard Croke, who died in 167l aged 16. Their son Wright Croke survived and after gaining his MA from Lincoln College became a barrister of the Inner Temple. He married his maid at the end of August 1684. Elizabeth Croke died of apoplexy (Wood III: 40) on 27 March 1783 and was buried in St Martin’s Church near her father.
  • Mary Wright (b.1627/8) died unmarried on 3 October 1671 and was buried at St Martin’s Church.
  • Anne Wright (b. 1631) died unmarried on 16 February 1554/5 and was buried at St Martin’s Church.

See also:

  • William Wright I, Mayor 1614 (his father)
  • William Wright II, Mayor 1656 and 1667 (his son)
  • Fletcher, Carteret J. H., A History of the Church and Parish of St Martin (Carfax), Oxford (B. H. Blackwell, 1896), “Appendix VI: Monumental Inscriptions, baptisms, and burials of the Wright family”
  • Ann Natalie Hansen, Oxford Goldsmiths before 1800 (At the Sign of the Cock, 1996), pp. 119–25
  • PCC Will PROB 11/314/263 (Will of Martin Wright, Alderman of Oxford, proved 24 June 1664)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 24 November, 2019

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