The Supplement to the Norfolk Chronicle of 28th March 1840 reported that amongst the prisoners at a recent sitting of the County’s Sessions, were Jonathan Wright and Samuel Wright.
They were charged with stealing six fowls the property of James Colman of Great Ellingham. The defendants were found not guilty.
The 1841 census finds 45 year old fowl buyer Jonathan Wright with his wife Ann (also 45) and children Samuel 20, Jonathan 15, John 15, Sarah 12, Ann 7, Lydia 5 and Robert 2.
It is worth remembering that the 1841 census does not always provide the exact ages of individuals as, in the cases of persons over the age of 15, the ages were rounded down to the nearest multiple of 5. Accordingly, Jonathan Wright said to be 15 was actually nearer the age of 17.
Extract from O.S. Map c.1945. Courtesy Ray & Maureen Beales
The Wright family were living in an area of Great Ellingham called Port Wood (Portwood). The arrow on the above map points to the approximate area of Portwood.
Living nearby at Portwood Farm is farmer James Colman.
Although the census gives his age as 20, James Colman’s age may well have been between 20 and 24. With James are two servants: 45 year old Mary Barnard and 15 year old Abraham Warren. The James Colman at ‘Port Wood’ is likely to be the James Colman referred to in the newspaper report.
However we cannot be certain which Jonathan Wright appeared with Samuel Wright at the County Sessions – his father or his brother? I suspect it was the brothers, but I have no evidence to back this up!
Jonathan & Ann Wright
Jonathan and Samuel were two of at least nine children born to poultry dealer Jonathan Wright and his wife Ann. Jonathan Wright (senior) was born about 1794 in nearby Attleborough.
He married Ann(e) Harper on the 27th February, 1816, in the Church of St James, Great Ellingham. They were both single and signed their names in the marriage register. Their son George Harper Wright was born around 1817 in Attleborough.
Great Ellingham & Rocklands
For a while the Wright family lived in Great Ellingham.
Baptisms for sons Samuel and Jonathan appear in the Great Ellingham Parish Registers in 1821 and 1823 respectively. The family may then have moved to Rocklands as their son John was born there around 1825 and daughter Sarah Ann around 1830. However, the family were back living in Great Ellingham by the time Mary Ann was baptised in the May of 1831.
The 1851 census captures the household of 57 year old poultry dealer Jonathan Wright living in Low Common, Great Ellingham. I believe the family to be living in the same place as they were in 1841. Port Wood (or Portwood) is part of the Low Common area.
Jonathan’s wife Ann is absent from the home on census night. The household included children Samuel 30 and Jonathan aged 27 – like their father, they are both described as poultry dealers.
Also in the household is 25 year old John, a tailor; 22 year old Sarah Ann, a dressmaker; Mary Ann 19, Anna Maria 17, Lydia Ann 14 and Robert 11. In addition, Sarah Ann Wright aged 7, born in Southery, is also with the family. Although the census states that Sarah Ann is a niece of Jonathan Wright senior, I believe this is an error and that Sarah Ann was a grandchild, being the daughter of Jonathan and Ann’s son George.
Death of Jonathan Wright
Jonathan and Ann Wright with some of their children are still living in Low Common in 1861.
Jonathan Wright aged 75 years was buried in the churchyard at St James on July 9th, 1869.
The 1871 census finds widow Ann Wright still living in Low Comon with unmarried children, poulterer Samuel 49, Sarah Ann aged 39 and 30 year Robert, described as a dealer in poultry.
Completing the household is 15 year old granddaughter Maria Elizabeth Wright and visiting grandsons James Wright aged 29 and Jonathan Wright 20.
Born in Southery, James and Jonathan were the sons of Jonathan and Ann’s son George Harper Wright. He married Jane Long and lived in Southery since at least 1851.
Death of Ann Wright
Ann Wright died at the age of 84. She was buried in the churchyard at Great Ellingham on 9th May, 1878.
Brothers Samuel and Jonathan Wright
Samuel Wright junior continued to live at Low Common.
The 1881 census captures 59 year old unmarried Samuel living at a farm in Low Common. The census describes Samuel as a farmer of 40 acres employing two men as well as being a fowl dealer.
Samuel is head of an large extended family consisting of his unmarried sister, 51 year old Sarah Ann, his 49 year old brother Robert (also unmarried), his nephew 28 year old Jonathan Wright (born in Southery) and his wife Maria E aged 24 and children Violet 8 and Sarah Jane 5. Samuel’s married sister 44 year old Lydia A Warren is also with the household together with her children Samuel W aged 12, Sarah M aged 10, George aged 9 and six year old Alice.
Death of Samuel Wright
Samuel Wright died at the age of 62. He was buried in the churchyard at Great Ellingham Parish Church on 18th June 1884.
Jonathan Wright married Elizabeth Lincoln in 1853. Their marriage was registered in the Wayland District betweeen October and December of that year. Jonathan would have been around the age of 30 years and his wife Elizabeth around 22.
A daughter of Robert and Esther Lincoln, Elizabeth was baptised in the parish church on 24th April, 1831.
The 1861 captures poulterer Jonathan Wright with his wife Elizabeth and children Ann aged 7, Alvina 6, Arthur 4 and one year old Angelina living in Penhill Road, Great Ellingham.
A notice of an Auction of property in Great Ellingham appearing in the Norwich Mercury dated 17 June 1863, includes a messuage with stables, sheds, fowl and other out-houses together with a yard, gardens and arable land abutting the road to Rockland in the occupation of Richard Drake and Jonathan Wright. The road to Rockland was, of course, Penhill Road.
Death of Elizabeth Wright
Sadly, at the age of 34, Elizabeth died. She was buried in the parish churchyard on May 29th, 1865.
By 1871, widowed Jonathan Wright (and now a labourer) had moved with his children to Stalling Common. An 18th century plan held at the Norfolk Record Office shows the same area to be called Stalland Common. Other census returns refer to the area as Strolling Common.
A marriage between Jonathan Wright and Maria Reeder was registered between the months of July and September 1874.
The 1881 census reveals 59 year old Johnathan Wright with his wife Maria, his unmarried daughter Albina (now aged 26), his step-son 11 year old Abram Reeder and six year old grandson Albert G Wright at Strolling Common.
Jonathan and Maria continued to live at Stalland Common, Great Ellingham. However, at some point after the 1901 census, they moved to The Green, Deopham to live with their grandson, Albert George Wright and his wife Anne Marie.
Death of Jonathan Wright
Jonathan Wright died in Deopham a few months after the 1911 census. He was buried in the churchyard of St James’ Church, Great Ellingham on August 23rd, 1911.
Free BMD website.
https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=vpnV6qb2l%2BwcnqCN3a9law&scan=1 Accessed 31.12.2019
https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=W9rp9wNMszr8twAZAW2dBA&scan=1 Accessed 31.12.2019
Norfolk Chronicle (Supplement) 28th March 1840
Norwich Mercury 17 June 1863
Great Ellingham Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office. PD/609. Also available at FamilySearch.org https://www.familysearch.org/search/image/index?owc=4J8C-CB7%3A29627201%3Fcc%3D1416598
1841 census HO107/781/8
1851 census HO107/1823/123
1861 census RG9/1237/97, RG9/1237/81
1871 census RG10/1841/94
1881 census RG11/1974/94, RG11/1974/95
1891 census RG12/1549/82
1901 census RG13/1867/81
1911 census RG14/11340
18th Century Plan. Stalland and Bush Green Commons, Great Ellingham. Norfolk Record Office. MC2213/116, 941X7