||13 January 1568 - Welwick, Yorkshire
||8 November 1605 - Holbeche House, Staffordshire
The son of Robert Wright of Plowland, Holderness, and his second wife Ursula Rudstone, daughter of
Nicholas Rudstone of Hayton (near Pocklington) , John (Jack) Wright was probably born at Plowland
Hall in Holderness [in the parish of Welwick]. Along with his younger brother Christopher, he was said to
have been a school fellow of both Oswald Tesimond and Guy Fawkes at the free school of St. Peters in York,
known as "Le Horse Fayre" .
Robert and Ursula were staunch Catholics who suffered imprisonment in Hull Prison in York for a period of
"fourteen years together" during the time which Henry Hastings, the Puritan Earl of Huntingdon, was Lord
President of the North . They had three daughters also, including Martha, who married Thomas
Percy the conspirator, and Ursula, who married firstly John Constable of Hatfield, and secondly Marmaduke
Ward of Mulwith, the suspected brother of Thomas Ward, servant to William Parker, Lord Monteagle. By his
first marriage to Anne Grimston, Robert Wright also had a son William, and two daughters, Martha and Anne .
Very little is known of the early life of the two Wright brothers and a great deal of what is written is often
attributed to either or both of them, so accuracy and specifics in detail between the two brothers are often
blurred, but later, Father John Gerard described John as a "strong, stout man, and of very good wit, though
slow of speech" . Renowned from his youth for his courage, "he was somewhat taciturn in manner,
but very loyal to his friends, even if his friends were few" .
By all accounts he was an excellent swordsman, considered by some to be the best swordsman of his day. He
was purported to be much disposed to fighting  until he was reconciled to the Catholic faith, which
according to Gerard occurred during, or just prior to, the time of the Essex Rebellion.
Prior to the Essex Rebellion however, John, his brother Christopher, and a number of others, including
Robert Catesby and Francis Tresham, were arrested as a precautionary measure during an illness of Queen
Elizabeth I. This was later dubbed the "Poisoned Pommel" incident , although no evidence of a plot
or conspiracy was ever truly uncovered that implicated either these four or any others.
Both John and his wife Dorothy then seemed to endure a great deal of harassment and persecution by the
authorities, and they appear more than once on the recusancy rolls, for their profession of the Catholic
John, along with his friend Robert Catesby, had formed part of the entourage for Robert Devereux, the Earl
of Essex. After the abortive Essex Rebellion of 1601, John spent an amount of time imprisoned in solitary
confinement . After his release, he moved his family from the ancestral home of Plowland Hall to
Twigmore Hall in northern Lincolnshire, which, even before the Essex Rebellion was noted as a "resort of
priests for his [John's] spiritual and their corporal comfort" , which seems to imply his
religious position was established even before Father John Gerard's claim. (Spink also makes the claim that
it would be difficult for the son of such devout religionists who suffered persecution for their faith to be
brought up with anything other than a Catholic background .) A government report put it in less
flattering terms: "This place is one of the worst in her Majesty's dominions and is used like a Popish
college for traitors in the northern parts" . The house, at the time was owned by the Tyrwhitt
family who were considered one of the more notable Catholic families of the area, and claimed as cousins to
the Wright's, perhaps through John's marriage to one of them.
Esteemed by Catesby for his valour and secrecy , John was the third to be initiated into the
Gunpowder Plot, some time in May 1604. Along with Thomas Wintour, he was given the task of officially telling
Guy Fawkes of the conspirators' intentions to blow up the Houses of Parliament , at which time he
removed his family from Twigmore Hall to a house belonging to Catesby at Lapworth in Warwickshire .
John's official position in the conspiracy is somewhat unclear, although by all accounts he was an active
participant in all its events.
On 4 November, the eve of the plot's discovery, John fled London with Catesby to take the news to Sir
Everard Digby and the hunting party which had gathered at Dunchurch in Warwickshire. Meeting several of their
confederates on the way to the Midlands, their party eventually numbered almost 60 strong . After
receiving Mass at Huddington Court on November 6th, they finally reached Holbeche House, the home of Stephen
Littleton, in the late evening of 7 November. The conspirators by now were weary, and according to their
confessions, had all but given up hope that their plans would succeed.
On the morning of 8 November, the house was surrounded and laid siege to by the Sheriff of Worcester's
men. In a brief stand, Christopher Wright was killed outright along with Catesby and Percy. However,
according to Tesimond, who was later told by the Wintours' priest Father Hart (alias Hammond) who had
administered the Mass two days previous, John was also mortally wounded, but "lingered for a day, if not
After the capture and imprisonment of the conspirators, the bodies of those who had died at Holbeche were
exhumed, and the heads removed for display at Westminster Palace.
 Dictionary of National Biography, 1895
 Spink, Henry Hawkes, "The Gunpowder Plot and Lord Mounteagle's Letter", 1902
 "A History of Yorkshire : East Riding Vol. I-VI"
(Oxford University Press)
 Gerard, John, "The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest, tr. Philip
 Fraser, Antonia, "Faith & Treason - The Story of the Gunpowder Plot", 1996
 Durst, Paul, "Intended Treason; What really happened in the Gunpowder Plot", 1970
 Edwards, Francis, S.J., "The Gunpowder Plot: The narrative of Oswald Tesimond alias Greenway, trans. from the Italian of the Stonyhurst Manuscript, edited and
 Cross, Claire, "The Puritan Earl: Henry Hastings 3rd Earl of Huntingdon 1536-1595"
 Toyne, S.M., "Guy Fawkes and the Powder Plot',
History Today, I, 1951
 "Recusants in the Exchequer Pipe Rolls 1581-1592", Catholic Record Society
 Simons, Eric N., "The Devil of the Vault", 1963
 Poulson, George, "The History and Antiquities of the seignatory of Holderness Vol. II"