Wright, James

(1798-1863)

Category:  Politics, Agriculture

James Wright was born in Dennington, Suffolk County, England on 17 Nov 1798, and raised in Laxfield, a small village NE of Dennington. It has been suggested that this parents were William Wright and Mary Cooper and that his siblings, among others, included Samuel, Joshua, and Richard, all of whom emigrated to Canada; these relationships have not been proven conclusively.

James and Maria Garrard (1799-1875) married at Laxfield on 10 Apr 1821. Their marriage license records that James was a grocer and a draper. We can only assume that the Wrights resided in Laxfield until they decided to emigrate to British North America in 1832. By then eight of their ten children had been born, three sons and five daughters; two more sons were born after the family arrived in Canada.

The Wrights settled on Canada Company land, the NE1/2 of lot 6, Division B, 2nd Concession of the "Paisley Block", Guelph Township. James Wright was active in agricultural matters and local politics. For many years, he was Secretary and Treasurer of the South Riding Agricultural Society. From 1845 to 1849 and again in 1854, he served as Councillor for Guelph Township, and Warden of the county from 1847 to 1849 and in 1854; he also served as Commissioner of County Roads. To develop the resources of the area, James took special interest in the construction of good roads; he was also one of the first and most vocal of supporters for the building of the Brock Road from Guelph to Dundas. In 1851, he represented the Conservative interests in the parliamentary elections, but lost to Adam Fergusson. At the time of his death, on August 6, 1863, the Guelph Herald eulogized James Wright with these words:

“Possessing much information in agricultural and municipal affairs, and a large share of sound, practical common sense, he was frequently elected as arbitrator in disputes between public bodies, and was not infrequently resorted to for counsel by his neighbours and acquaintances, who respected and esteemed him for his unbiased probity and integrity, his love of truth, his warm sympathy and Christian deportment.”

 Maria Garrard Wright survived her husband by more than eleven years; she died at Guelph on January 26, 1875.